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Student Councils are a common feature in most modern schools. They are an almost certain part of the HK school scene and at South Island School were considered an important part. But what should be noted is that in almost all these instances the actual impact of student council is fairly small. In many local schools, Student Councils or Student Unions are merely joking for positions that look good on CVs. Even where they have an actual role, it is often devoid from school policy and unrelated to the teaching or policies of the administration. That was certainly the case many times during my studies at SIS. Although admittedly, as an international school, SIS was already significantly better in listening to the students.
Moving 7 hours away to the UK, I wondered whether the Student Council would function in much the same way. It had been billed as being more representative and better listened to. And this logically fit into the more student orientated and independent approach taken by Atlantic College. But given a deluge of changes since the last academic year, I was unsure how important the Atlantic College Student College actually was.That was part of the reason why I went to the student council meeting on the 30th of August 2010. It wasn’t a particularly spectacular meeting, there were approximately 16 members with 2 from each of the 7 houses (I’m in Morganngy). But what surprised me were the seriousness of the discussions. From internet hours to food, induction and carol units, the issues discussed were issues that truly affected the student population day in, day out. And contrary to other times, there were no mundane issues being discussed.
There was this strange buzz in the room and with each new issue, a fervent discussion ensued from all corners, small discussions, large comments. Contrary to what I’ve seen and been involved in, these people were actually interested in what was happening rather than just being there for the name.
The most special aspect of the student council was not the students meeting each other, but in fact what was referred to as the ‘staff-student council’ where student council members brought issues to attending staff members. The simple existence of this kind of forum is a step above other schools. In many instances, there is little to no communication between students and staff. In this case, students had a substantive discussion with staff members over issues of core importance to the school. And although many of the response were the expected ‘we’ll look into it’, it represented something better than the rest.