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Speaker’s School Council Awards – top tips on applying

The Speaker’s School Council Awards 2014 is now open! Get your application in before the closing date on 30 April.

Greg Sanderson, of the charity Smart School Councils Community has contributed a few ideas and tips that will help you with your application to the Speaker’s School Council Awards 2014.

With the launch of the 2014 Speaker’s School Council Awards, it’s a very exciting time for school councils. It says a lot that most of the schools that we’ve visited recently have eagerly showed us their letter from the Speaker inviting them to take part in the Awards.

Since all of these schools that we’ve visited have asked us if their project is good enough, I thought I’d write up a few tips on applying to this great award. So here we go:

How big does the project need to be?

It doesn’t matter too much if your project is big or small. Of course, huge projects that have changed significant things about a school are great, but little projects that have improved small, tangible, important things in a school should also apply.

What should I say about the project?

In your application, be very clear about what the project has changed. Describing this should include information on what the problem was, what the students did to change it, and what things look like now.

Should I talk about our other school achievements?

Don’t just list all of your school’s achievements in the application.

I’m sure that your school has done lots of interesting things, but the judges just want to hear about one great (and discrete) school council project. This award isn’t for your school, or even specifically your school council – it is for a specific project that the school council has worked on. Sadly, a few applications that we’ve seen and which could have included great projects didn’t do too well because it was really hard to pick out one project from the list of achievements that they sent.

Who should lead the project and the application?

The judges really like projects that are clearly led by young people. Projects where it’s clear that the original idea came from a student are great, especially when the project itself was then carried out by other students.It also looks really good when students evaluate and reflect on their project and identify where it could be improved.

Obviously teacher guidance is important to most projects, but even a small project that started after an idea from a pupil and caused a concrete change can be really powerful.

It also helps if a student writes the application as opposed to a teacher. If your students are really young, then a teacher can support this and make sure you include really good quotations from students. When it’s clear the applications are written by teachers using lots of education buzzwords, it doesn’t help your application.

Does the project need to be finished?

The project doesn’t need to be fully finished so even if you’re not quite done with your amazing project, get the application in! You could also apply with a project that was completed a while ago that the school is really proud of.

I’m not sure our project is that good, should I still apply?

Even if you don’t feel your project is the best one in the world, you’ll still get a really cool certificate from the Speaker for applying. This can help to inspire the school council and to show that their projects are being recognised, and that they can improve next time round. The application process is also pretty quick, so it doesn’t have to take a huge amount of time.

I’ve already applied, should I apply again?

If you’ve applied before and you didn’t win, don’t lose heart. Get another application in that has a slightly different approach or aim. You haven’t got anything to lose!

We’ve raised lots of money for charity, will we win?

Fundraising projects can be great and really important to school councils and schools generally, but letting the students decide what charity to support isn’t the most innovative and interesting school council project. I would encourage you to think more innovatively about what your school council can do. Can you look at learning in the school? Can you improve relationships? Can you get more people involved? Looking at the categories will help you with more ideas.

You could also try our great school council case studies to get some help with this, or the information and support on the Speaker School Council Awards website.

Don’t forget to register with the Smart School Councils Community to be able to access loads of great school council resources, which can help your school council to grow.

If you’ve got any further questions, then feel free to ask them by putting a comment below or in the forum post here.

You can also follow Smart School Councils on Twitter @SSCCTY!



I'm an ex-teacher with a real passion for education, politics and teaching. I am also a keen writer and blogger with strong opinions.

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