Head's Up for the Student Parliament
Mr Mathew answers JHNewsman's questions on the new student parliament
Why did you want to create a School Parliament?
I intended to create greater opportunities for student voice. I believe the school belongs to the pupils and, if that’s the case, then where is their voice? Children would come and talk to me and we needed to do
something that was better organised, involved some training and allowed greater numbers of pupils to get involved – so we’ve got 137 MPs. It means now we’ve set up a forum where things can be discussed. It’s still in its infancy; there’s a lot of work to be done but I’m sure it will get better as the years go on.
What do the Parliament do in and outside of their meetings?
We’ve established sub-committees and they cover a range of topics. I plan to attach staff to every one of those committees and, as it happens in real Parliament, those sub-committees will go off and work in the
background. They will have a conversation about things we want to do, for example, looking at mental wellbeing or uniform – hot topics at the moment. So there are a number of strands that they will talk to their form groups about, but the important bit is that their recommendations will go to the Governing Body, who are the people who decide what happens in the school. The Governing Body will take these recommendations to the parents, who also have a say in what goes on. It means now that there is a clear mechanism and an opportunity for people to work to make changes to the school.
How successful has the Parliament been so far?
The first intention was to get it set up and running, which has been a big job. Ms Timpson and Mrs
Fuller have been fantastic. We’ve got the foundations in place and now we need to start making it
Overall, what changes have you experienced since you became Head Teacher?
Oh, wow, that’s a big question! Well, the Pavilion wasn’t there beforehand; whole school assemblies
with chairs now exist – those are just easy ones. But we’ve made a lot of changes in the way we try to track pupils and students in the school, so we make sure that we don’t let parents and children down.
We’ve got a greater number of support mechanisms in place. So, for example, the Raising Standard
leaders meetings (which you probably don’t know about) where key members of my leadership team
meet with subject leaders and ask them ‘which children in your subject need additional support?’
They then put in place extra support for them in the light of the things discussed. There are a lot of
things in the background going on but it would be interesting for your readers to see what they think
has changed within the school, considering schools change every day. It is a very different place to
what it was six years ago. The students here are fantastic and are really good at coming up with ideas,
as well as looking out for each other.
What recent school achievements have you been most proud of?
I think that we’ve been able to provide a good academic provision for the pupils. To have been in the
Top 100 Schools for a few years running is lovely. But I think the thing that I’m most pleased about is
that when pupils leave here, they tend to come back. We had Jazz Night recently and there must have
been about thirty or forty former students who had returned! I’ve said to parents that we want our
pupils to be able to know how to keep themselves safe, be financially independent and to have an
understanding of who they are, and I think that’s a real strength of the school. If you’ve got those
three things there’s a good chance you’ll be happy in life, and when I bump into students who have
left, they come over and say hello and tell me how they’re getting on. That’s the real legacy of the
school and is the thing that makes the difference.