School pupils at heart of community

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CHILDREN who care about their community have gained their school the prestigious Investing in Children award.

Ballacottier pupils concerned about their safety while walking to and from school campaigned for a crossing on Stevenson’s Way, writing to Infrastructure Minister David Cretney MHK.

And now a new crossing has been created.

In addition, pupils are involved with Braddan Commissioners’ scheme to revamp a playground near the school. They spoke to the board about the type of equipment they wanted to see and are seeing their ideas coming to fruition.

And helping pets is also a priority. They persuaded teachers to run an art competition to celebrate World Animal Day. The entry fee was a tin or packet of pet food and pupils collected enough for three large hampers that were donated to the ManxSPCA. The charity displayed winning artwork at its sanctuary, Ard Jerkyll.

Ballacottier is the fourth school to secure the Investing in Children benchmark since two local evaluators, Nigel Bennett (St John’s) and Annette Baker (Ballakermeen High School), were appointed last spring.

Schools seeking accreditation must prove they not only listen to, but act on, pupils’ initiatives.

Mrs Baker interviewed children independently of teachers to check their views have made a genuine difference to school life.

An 18-strong school council is behind the initiatives that saw Ballacottier secure the award. Comprising children elected from each class, it has its own budget and motto – ‘working hard to help everyone in our school’. Pupils note ideas in class books and a suggestion box is well used, too.

Children organise their own lunchtime clubs. When the origami club ran out of paper pupils wrote to businesses for their scrap paper, with a kind donation allowing the club to continue.

In October, pupils organised the school’s Hallowe’en ‘Scaresco’ (instead of disco) where the chance to throw soggy sponges at teachers proved particularly popular. This raised money for children to use for prizes for competitions they organise and for a school team points cup, awarded each term.

Buying equipment to make outdoors and wet playtimes more fun was another initiative by school council, as was improving seating arrangements at lunchtimes.

Ballacottier joins Dhoon, Arbory and Fairfield schools in being awarded Investing in Children status.

Education and Children Minister Tim Crookall MHK and Department of Education and Children political member Juan Turner MLC presented pupils with the award at a special assembly.

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