Pupils shape schools’ future while unlocking potential to lead

Every pupil in three village schools in North Yorkshire has taken on a pivotal role in prompting a host of different issues ranging from protecting the environment to supporting the use of modern technology in the classroom.

Children attending the federation of Beckwithshaw Community Primary School, Kettlesing Felliscliffe Primary School and Ripley Endowed Church of England Primary School, near Harrogate, are taking the lead in a multitude of educational areas to nurture their sense of responsibility and develop their teamwork and leadership skills.

Sports leaders are taking on the responsibility for the development of fun and active sessions, digital leaders are improving online safety and exploring how all pupils can be ready for their futures in an ever-developing digital world. Meanwhile, sustainability and change eco-warriors are evaluating how environmentally-friendly their school actually is encouraging everyone to recycle and save energy.

North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for education, learning and skills, Cllr Annabel Wilkinson, said: “Leadership and independent learning are important for our children. It’s fantastic to see all pupils at this federation are role models and are keen to come together and make a difference.”

Executive headteacher Miss Victoria Kirkman explained it is important all pupils are given the opportunity to be listened to when making decisions that affect them in school.

She said: “Instead of having merely a ‘selection’ of pupils for a leadership group, we felt it vital that all pupils were involved in the shaping of an outstanding school experience.

“All pupils are then invested in the success of their school and have the ability to make real change happen. The initiative has also given them opportunities to develop their sense of responsibility.

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“Our pupils begin learning leadership skills as early as reception classes. We want them to flourish throughout their lives and be courageous advocates. Therefore, all our pupils in the federation are now pupil leaders helping to create a positive and inclusive school culture for all regardless of age, need or ability.”

As the end of the year is coming closer, staff and pupils at the schools have had a lot to celebrate in 2023. Earlier this year, Ripley Endowed Church of England Primary School received a good rating from Ofsted inspectors, while in July, Beckwithshaw Primary School also achieved a good Ofsted grading – just 19 months after it was found to be failing.

Inspectors praised the school for its “rapid improvements”, especially the staff for working “swiftly and tirelessly” to bring great improvement in the school.

They said: “There is a feeling of positivity in the school, which pupils share. Leaders and staff are ambitious for pupils. They have high expectations for the future.”

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