Young people can experience democracy in action by becoming involved in pupil councils that elect their board members and operate according to the principles of representative democracy. This will also help them understand how the social decision-making system functions outside the school.
Pupil councils constitute a significant form of citizenship education in schools.
Studies and surveys carried out by the Office of the Ombudsman for Children have shown that children and adolescents primarily wish to have a say on both the interior and exterior school environment, including amenities, meals, school rules and the content of individual lessons. In general, they wish to have a greater influence in school affairs.
Project to Support Student Councils in Finnish Comprehensive Schools 2014-2015
(Suomen peruskoulujen oppilaskuntien tukihanke SPOT)
The Project to Support Student Councils in Finnish Comprehensive Schools (SPOT) was started in June 2014 and is a cooperative project with eight organisations. The actual project partners are The Union of Upper Secondary School Students in Finland (Suomen Lukiolaisten Liitto – SLL) and Development Centre Opinkirjo (Kehittämiskeskus Opinkirjo). In addition the project has six cooperation partners which are The Swedish-speaking School Student Union of Finland (Finlands Svenska Skolungdomsförbund – FSS), The Union of Vocational Students in Finland – SAKKI,The Finnish Student Alliance – OSKU, Finnish Youth Cooperation – Allianssi, Youth Academy (Nuorten Akatemia) and the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare (Mannerheimin Lastensuojeluliitto – MLL). The current project period ends in May 2015 but we have applied for further funding until the end of year 2015.
SPOT supports student councils in promoting a communal working culture at schools. The project has collected methods supporting participation and student councils’ work. We have also planned methods, processes and practices how to promote participating and communicative culture at schools which are appropriate for different age groups of children. A web based service offering tools and material support for teachers responsible for student councils will be launched in January 2015. Our target is also to create a sustainable and reasonable model for supporting and promoting student councils’ work in Finnish comprehensive schools.
There are three different projects integrated to the aggregate project SPOT and run by the same organisations as listed above. The integrated projects offer updating education for teachers, funded by the Finnish National Board of Education. The updating education is free of charge for the participants.
The association has also produced practical guides to support the supervision of pupil council activities in collaboration with various parties.