THE old adage about children being seen and not heard isn’t one that staff and pupils at Dhoon Primary School, in Maughold, subscribe to.
The 104-pupil school has become the first in the island to gain the prestigious Investing in Children benchmark, earned through a culture of listening to pupils and acting on their opinions.
Since evaluators were appointed to drive the initiative, Dhoon’s pupils have played a part in setting class topics, introducing an afternoon break time, reorganising wet playtimes, running a book exchange, designing learning spaces, and creating classroom displays.
Their input led to the school earning the award, which was presented at a celebration assembly on Monday by Tim Crookall MHK, Minister for Department of Education and Children, and the department’s political member Juan Turner MLC.
This year, Nigel Bennett, headteacher of St John’s Primary School, and Annette Baker, deputy headteacher of Ballakermeen High School, qualified to assess organisations in the island bidding for the award.
To gain the award, organisations must prove they not only listen to, but act on, what children say.
Evaluators meet children to check they believe their views have made a genuine difference to an organisation.
David Jenkins, headteacher, said pupil input at Dhoon comes via the school council, made up of two representatives of each class, which encourages peers to come forward with suggestions, discusses their merits and assists pupils with beneficial ideas to bring them about.
‘This means that any of our pupils has the opportunity to get involved and make their voice heard,’ Mr Jenkins said.
‘I’m delighted that the school has been awarded Investing in Children status. It’s a prestigious award and one that reflects the ethos and attitudes of everyone at Dhoon.
‘It shows that pupils here are able to have a real influence on things that directly affect them, from the organisation of lunchtime break to the way in which they show their learning in class.
Mr Jenkins added: ‘Now we’re looking forward to seeing how we can all work together to build on this success.’
Presenting the award, the Minister said:
‘Encouraging pupils to have the confidence to come up with ideas and see them through to fruition is good preparation for adult life. It’s great to see children at this small primary having such a positive influence on school life.
He added: ‘I would like to congratulate the school and encourage along others that are aiming for Investing in Children status.’