Tom, a year 10 student, and chair of the Student Council, gave this speech at our Open Day.
My name is Tom Rodgers, and I am a year 10 student at Shimna. This year I have also been elected chair of the Student Council. You will know that Shimna was founded by parents, and that every parent is a member of our Parent Council. In just the same way, every student is a member of the Student Council, and every form class sends their representative to our monthly meetings. The role of the form rep is to keep us all informed of anything new being proposed, and to seek out our views. For example, our next meeting is going to complete a survey to check out student views on some new items on the canteen menu.
Our Student Council has a proud history. In 2011, members of our Student Council travelled to Westminster to be presented with the Speaker’s Award. Shimna was the first, and is still the only, Northern Ireland school to have received the award. Being elected to our Student Council has also been the beginning of further electoral success. The current and past representatives for South Down on the UK Youth Parliament are Shimna students, and the past MYP, Ryan, is now studying politics and parliamentary procedure at the University of Leeds. Shimna has also won a Silver Democracy Award for the level of our participation in the democratic process.
Of course you will want to know whether our Student Council makes any difference! Many of our successes are in the small, day to day things that make student life more comfortable. For example, at our recommendation, new water fountains have been provided. Our Student Council worked closely with the Parent Council, and, with great financial support from BE Aerospace, bus shelters are now in place.
The Student Council plays a key role in our Eco policies and practice, and we are due to meet the Eco committee as part of our bid for our Eco School Green Flag.
I was personally very pleased when we hosted a visit this year from the outgoing Children’s Commissioner, Patricia Lewsley Mooney, who was tremendously supportive of student involvement in the running of their schools.
I was very fortunate to attend All Children’s Integrated Primary, and was delighted to follow my sister and cousins to Shimna. One cousin is now loving every minute of her degree in electronic engineering at Herriot Watt University, Edinburgh, the other cousin is successfully completing her A levels this year in maths, physics and chemistry and my sister is working hard for her GCSEs and making up her mind on the A levels she will choose.
For me, I am just happy here. The opportunity to chair the Student Council has been a big bonus, alongside the chance to stretch myself in my work.