What is a Student Council?
A Student Council is a representative structure for students only, through which they can become involved in the affairs of the school, working in partnership with school management, staff and parents for the benefit of the school and its students.
Usually the student council works with a teacher, who is the link person between students and staff and management in the school.
Many schools already have excellent student councils.
Role of the Student Council Liaison Teacher
· To promote the interests of the student council
· To assist and advise the student councils
· To be the link between students and teachers and management.
Responsibilities of the Student Council Liaison Teacher
Attending student council meetings and providing guidance, advice and information
· Providing training and team development activities for the student council.
· Assisting the student council in liaising with management.
· Liaising between the student council and staff by putting student council issues
on the agenda at staff meetings.
· Encouraging staff to invite members of the student council to attend staff meetings
and encouraging the student council to invite staff members to their meetings.
· Helping to raise the profile of the student council.
· Helping to ensure the student council becomes part of the structure of the school
and that it is involved in all aspects of school life.
· Ensuring that student council issues are on the agenda at board of management
· Monitoring and evaluating the development of the student council with student
members.(Taken from: Second Level Student Councils Resource Pack: National
Children’s Office, p. 41)
The rules for setting up and running a Student Council
According to the Education Act 1998, the Board of Management of the school is responsible, for drawing up rules for the establishment of a Student Council. These rules must comply with the Department of Education and Science guidelines – Student Councils: A Voice for Students. The Board must give students a copy of the rules if students say they want to set up a Student Council.
The Student Council Constitution
The Student Council may make rules governing its meetings and the business and conduct of its affairs, but it shall consult with the Board of Management before doing so. Such rules may include the drawing up of a Constitution. Where a Student Council does not already have a constitution in place, it should be encouraged to draw one up. When the Student Council have drawn up their Constitution, it should be presented to the Board for formal ratification. You may find the following downloads useful when you are drafting the constitution.
DOWNLOAD: Sample Constitutions and Student Council Contracts
Section 27 of the Education Act, 1998
(1) A board shall establish and maintain procedures for the purposes of informing students in a school of the activities of the school.
(2) The procedures established and maintained under subsection (1) shall facilitate the involvement of the students in the operation of the school, having regard to the age and experience of the students, in association with their parents and teachers.
(3) Students of a post-primary school may establish a student council and, without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1), a board of a post-primary school shall encourage the establishment by students of a student council and shall facilitate and give all reasonable assistance to:
(a) students who wish to establish a student council, and
(b) student councils when they have been established.
(4) A student council shall promote the interests of the school and the involvement of students in the affairs of the school, in co-operation with the board, parents and teachers.
(5) The rules for the establishment of a students council shall be drawn up by the board, in accordance with such guidelines as may be issued by the Minister from time to time, and such rules may provide for the election of members and the dissolution of a student council.
(6) A student council, following consultation with the board, may make rules governing its meetings and the business and conduct of its affairs.
Establishing a Student Council
Where students in a school notify the Board of Management that they wish to establish a Student Council, the Board of Management should provide them, in a timely manner, with a copy of the rules it has drawn up in accordance with these guidelines.
Where students have not yet taken the initiative to establish a Student Council, the Board of Management acting through the school Principal and teaching staff shall encourage, facilitate and assist students in doing so.
Where a Liaison Teacher has been asked to set up a Student Council, all of the students in the school need to be made aware of the role and functions of the Student Council and how the nomination and election process will take place. For students from 1st to 3rd year (and even possibly 4th year), there is a CSPE resource pack which you could draw some materials from or alternatively talk to the CSPE teachers about the possibility of them, maybe teaching some of these materials to the students in order to raise awareness about the Student Council, in advance of the elections. 5th and 6th year students need to be convinced of the worth of getting involved in the Student Council. Quite often, the opportunity to have a say in school policies that are relevant to them can be something that they would be interested in.
DOWNLOAD: Student Councils in Schools (A Module of Work for CSPE)
Size and Composition of a Student Council
The size and composition of a Student Council shall be determined by the Board of Management having regard both to the need for the Council to be representative of all students in the school and the need for it to function effectively.
It may not always be appropriate for each class to have a representative on the Council, for example in a large school. Where a Board of Management decides to allow representation for each year group rather than each class, each class should be allowed to nominate a candidate for election. In large schools consideration may also be given to having two councils, one for Junior Cycle students and one for Senior Cycle students, with Council officers who attend meetings of both Councils.
A Board of Management may, at its discretion or on the advice of the Principal, decide that 1st year students should not be appointed to the Student Council having regard to their relatively recent introduction to second level education. Where a Board of Management takes such a decision, it should provide adequate structures to ensure that the views and concerns of 1st year students are addressed, for example through a mentoring programme.
However, 1st years are very valuable members of the Student Council, as they see the school with fresh eyes and opinions. If you hold your elections towards the beginning of the school year, you might consider not holding the 1st year elections to the council until after the mid-term break and let them join the existing council at that stage.
In a co-educational school, provision should be made to allow for an appropriate gender balance on the Council, either through the selection by each class of two representatives, one of each gender, or through some other method.
A Board may also, at its discretion, provide for a teacher to be included as a non-voting member of the Council.
Nominations and Elections
The Board of Management, or the Principal acting on its behalf, should set a date for the election of representative(s) to the Student Council.
All students in each class or year group having a representative on the Student Council should be entitled to stand for election to the Council.
A Board of Management may, at its discretion, make provision for the Principal or relevant teacher to veto a nomination. As such a right should be exercised with caution and only in exceptional cases, the Board of Management in its rules should clearly state the circumstances in which any veto may be used. Provision should be made that where a veto is exercised, those exercising the veto must explain clearly to students the basis for their decision, and students should be given an opportunity to respond.
Nominations for election should be made within a reasonable period before the election as specified by the Board.
Voting may take place during class time, break or after school. The holding of elections during class time is at the discretion of the Board of Management or Principal as the case may be, having regard to the views of the staff of the school.
All voting should take place by secret ballot.
The counting of votes should take place under the supervision of a member of the staff of the school or a representative of the Board of Management or a parent designated for this purpose. In the case of junior cycle classes, provision may be made for senior cycle students to supervise the counting of votes. However, candidates for the election should not be involved in the counting process as there may be some sensitivity around vote expectations!
The Board of Management rules should specify the manner in which candidates are to be elected. It should also specify the term of office of elected members.
The Board of Management may wish to discuss the merits of different voting systems with students before adopting a particular system.
DOWNLOAD: Sample Nomination Form
DOWNLOAD: Sample Ballot Paper (first past the post)
DOWNLOAD: Sample Ballot Paper (proportional representation)
The work of the Student Council
A Student Council is a representative structure for all the students in the school. It provides students with the opportunity to become involved in the affairs of the school, working in partnership with school management, staff and parents. It should always work for the benefit of the school and its students.
The Student Council has responsibility for
· Working with the staff, Board of Management and Parents' Association in the school;
· Communicating and consulting with all of the students in the school;
· Involving as many students as possible in the activities of the Council;
· Planning and managing the Council's programme of activities for the year;
· Managing and accounting to the student council and Board of Management, for any
funds raised by the Council.
DOWNLOAD: Functions of the Student Council
Student Council activities
The Student Council can be involved in many activities in the school. Here is a sample of some Student Council activities:
Standard Yearly Activities
· Liaising with principal and board of management on issues of concern to students
· Communication and co-operation with school staff
· Working with the parents’ council in school
· Co-operating with management and staff on the development of school rules
· Involvement in school planning
· Having a say in school policies e.g. anti-bullying policy, homework, substance
use, mobile phones, healthy eating, code of discipline, uniform, school tracksuit,
punctuality… Write up student friendly versions.
Making suggestions about improving school facilities: locker areas, changing areas, showers, toilets, cataloguing existing provision e.g. dvds, cds …
Extra-curricular activities: or lunch time activities such as movie clubs, computer games clubs, chess clubs, language clubs, book clubs…
Getting involved with the community e.g. inviting in senior citizens for help with mobile phones, internet, e-mail, recording from the television…, tidy towns, holding a party for students of a local special school, etc
Mentoring programmes for younger students, table quizzes…, poster competitions, guide to the school for new students, mental health awareness…
Fund-raising: for things such as water fountains, library books, sports equipment, defibrillators, outdoor benches, picnic tables, DVDs, to do up a lunch room, to buy posters, to plant flowers, to construct a garden of remembrance, to invite in speakers on different issues …
Organising recycling in school: getting involved or introducing the Green Schools, running an anti-litter campaign, clean up an area of the school or helping out in the community on environmental issues.
Carrying out surveys and questionnaires on issues and reporting back to the school management with the gathered information.
Organising social events: such as talent shows, fashion shows, battle of the bands, quiz events, sports tournaments …
School newsletter / magazine: or putting together a school record for the year using photographs etc.
Linking in with other Student Councils in the area and organising a meeting with a view to sharing ideas and maybe a joint project.
Student award ceremonies, Student Council Award…
There are many more activities which a Student Council can be involved in. The Student Council should listen to the views of the students, the staff, the Principal and the Board of Management when drawing up its calendar of activities.
DOWNLOAD: Student Council Planning Sheet
DOWNLOAD: Student Council Calendar
Officers of the Student Council
The Student Council should appoint officers to run an effective Council. Below are some suggestions for officers and their roles:
· Is the chief spokesperson and officer of the Student Council;
· Calls meetings;
· Chairs meetings in a fair manner ensuring that all have an equal say;
· Has the casting vote if voting is divided equally;
· Signs any letters, notices etc. that are issued by the Student Council;
· Liaises with school management;
· Ensures that the Student Council is run effectively and efficiently;
· Prepares the agenda for each meeting with the Secretary;
· Signs the minutes from the previous meeting with the Secretary, on acceptance.
The Deputy Chairperson
· Takes over the responsibilities of the chairperson when he/she is not available;
· Assists the chairperson in the organization of the Student Council;
· Accompanies the chairperson to meetings when necessary.
· Prepares the agenda for each meeting with the Chairperson and in consultation
· with the other officers of the Council;
· Circulates the agenda to all members in advance of the meeting or at the start of the
· Takes minutes at meetings and writes them up;
· Distributes/reads out minutes from previous meeting and on acceptance, signs them
· with the Chairperson;
· Sends out letters and notice of meetings that will be held stating time and place;
· Ensures that everyone is aware that meetings are being held.
· Manages any funds raised by the Student Council;
· Keeps financial records in order and reports to the Student Council on
· the current financial status of the group;
· Makes a brief financial report at every student council meeting;
· Provides the Council and Board of Management with a complete financial report
at the end of the school year.
As a general rule any payments made by the Treasurer should be countersigned or endorsed by another member of the Council or a teacher designated for this purpose.
The Public Relations Team/Communications Officers
· Keep the whole school informed about the activities of the Student Council;
· Keep notice boards updated;
· Help produce the Student Council newsletter, if the school has one;
· Take lots of photographs of Student Council activities to accompany any reports
· or notices for the board;
· Promote good communications between the Student Council and students, teachers,
· school management and parents.
The PR team is responsible for making sure that the Student Council has a high profile within the school. The higher the profile of the Student Council within the school - the more successful the Student Council. Student Council members should consider wearing badges or a different tie or something to identify themselves as Student Council members. Every activity of the Student Council should be reported no matter how small. When the school population does not hear about what is going on with the Student Council, they just assume that they are doing nothing, which is far from the truth.
The Student Council notice board
The Student Council notice board should be in a prominent place in the school where every student will have an opportunity to see it. The kinds of things that you should have on your notice board are as follows:
• Members names, photos and classes;
• Date of next meeting;
• Agenda for next meeting;
• Minutes of last meeting;
• Ideas of what the students want the Student Council to do;
• Student Council achievements and ongoing activities;
You should try and make your notice board eye-catching to students passing so that they will stop and read it. Agendas and minutes for examples could be printed on to different coloured paper from one meeting to the next so that people know that they are new ones. You could have different themes for your notice board or decorate it to suit the time of year, events happening in your school, etc…
Running a meeting
Members of the Student Council should give good notice of a meeting. It is a good idea to agree a regular day, time and place for the meeting. A copy of the agenda should be posted on the Student Council notice board a few days in advance of the meeting so that members can prepare for the meeting. It is important that members participate in meetings and give their opinions. However, members should also listen carefully to what others have to say and respect their opinions.
The Chairperson should run the meeting in a fair manner. He/she should give everyone a chance to give their opinion and should ensure that all issues on the agenda are addressed. He/she should summarise the decisions made before they are noted in the minutes.
DOWNLOAD: Tips for the Chairperson
The agenda should be drawn up in advance of the meeting by the Secretary and the Chairperson in consultation with the other officers of the Student Council. Students in the school should be given the opportunity to put items on the agenda through their representative on the Council.
DOWNLOAD: Sample Agenda
The Secretary records the minutes of the meeting. The minutes should be kept in a special folder. Both the Student Council Liaison Teacher and the Secretary should keep a copy for themselves. One copy should be posted on the Student Council notice board and another copy should be made available to the Principal.
DOWNLOAD: Sample Minutes
The Constitution of the Student Council should state how decisions will be reached at meetings. Decisions at all meetings should be by consensus. All members of the Student Council, irrespective of position should have the same vote and status. In the event of a tie, the Chairperson has the casting vote.
DOWNLOAD: Sample Constitutions
It is important that there is good two way communication between the Student Council and Students. Students should be kept informed of the activities of the Student Council. Students should be able to give their views to the Council on issues being discussed and should be able to put issues on the agenda for the discussion.
It is important also that there is good two way communication between the Student Council and school management, staff and parents. Good communication can be achieved by some of the following activities:
· Keeping a student notice-board in the school where information on the
Council's activities is posted;
· Producing a student newsletter;
· Announcing upcoming events at assembly/roll call;
· Regular meetings between members of the Council and the students they represent
· in order to discuss issues on the agenda and allow students to submit items
· to the agenda;
· Surveying students on issues being discussed by the Council;
· Regular meetings with the School management, staff and parents;
· Providing regular updates to the Board of Management, Principal, Staff and
Parents'Association on the Student Council's activities and plans;
· Providing an end of year report to the Board of Management;
· Consultation by school management and staff on issues affecting the operation
of the school;
· Regularly inviting students, management, staff members or parents to
The Council may decide to fundraise for its own activities or for charity. The agreement of school management needs to be sought before planning any fundraising activities. The treasurer has responsibility for ensuring that any money raised by the Council is used for the purposes for which it was collected. A financial report should be provided to the Council and Board of Management at the end of each school year.
Some advice on fundraising:
· The treasurer should keep good records of how much was raised at each
fundraising event and how it was spent;
· Don't hold too many fundraising events. Prioritise a limited number of issues and events;
Students should have a say on fundraising issues;
· Cheques or payments should be authorised by two signatories (a student council
member and a designated teacher);
· Make sure all students in the school are told about the event well in advance, and
know what the Student Council plans to use the money for.
Dissolution/Removing a Member
Normally a Student Council is dissolved when the terms of office of the members expires. The Board of Management of the school may dissolve the Student Council before the expiry of the term in accordance with the rules and procedures governing dissolution. This will only happen in exceptional circumstances after consultation with all concerned.
Circumstances that may require the early dissolution of a Student Council include:
· Where a significant number of members of the Council have been involved in
a serious breach of the school’s code of behaviour
· Where serious irregularities have occurred in the election of the Council
· Where the activities of the Council have endangered the welfare of staff or students
of the school
· Where serious financial irregularities have occurred
A member of the Council can be removed by the Board of Management in accordance with the Board's rules and procedures.
The Board of Management, on the advice of the Principal or on its own initiative, may remove a member of the Council in accordance with the Board’s rules and procedures in this regard. Both the member concerned and the Council should be given adequate notice of the proposal, the reasons therefore and the opportunity to appeal the removal to the Board of Management or Patron of the school in accordance with established local appeals procedures within the school.
Evaluating the Student Council
Student Council members should review their work at the end of their Student Council year.
The Student Council should look for feedback from the Liaison Teacher, Board of Management, staff members, students of the school and the Parents Association.
When all of the feedback has been received the Student Council should write a short report based on the information, and make sure that everyone involved in the school community gets a copy of it.
They should keep a copy of the evaluation and the report on their Student Council file so that future Student Council members can learn from it.
DOWNLOAD: Evaluating the Student Council
DOWNLOAD: Student Council Liaison Teacher Record
DOWNLOAD: Constitution Handbook