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215 Education: Preschool, primary and secondary learning


Te high achiever with


far-reaching ambitions The High Arcal School in Dudley encourages social engagement and democracy through a host of proactive student initiatives


voice is also actively encouraged. Besides promoting confidence, discussion and proactivity, it teaches students the need for democracy at every level. “It’s important for students to feel like they’re part of a school


T


community that allows them to express their views,” says Georgia Rowley, head girl and chair of the school council. “One where they feel comfortable to say what they feel, and know that something will take place to ensure their ideas are implemented.”


Learning experience Te Dudley secondary started life as a grammar school in 1961, became a comprehensive in 1975 and an academy in 2010, with specialisms in science and applied learning. It has around 1,200 students currently, aged 11–18, and boasts a vast range of extracurricular activities and learning experiences outside of the classroom.


One of these is the school council, which plays a crucial


role in school life and the local community. As well as helping students develop their leadership skills, it offers the chance to share ideas and inspire, and be inspired by, one another. Created by head girl Rowley, “the ladder of leadership” is just one example of this in action. “It encourages leadership at every stage of school life,”


she says, “whether this is as a uniform monitor, form rep, sports captain or prefect. It makes students feel as though they’re involved right from Year 7.” Reasons for wanting to join the council are as varied as


they are positive. “For me, it was about giving something back to the school,” says Taran Sohal, head boy and chair of the school council. “Tis is done by listening to the ideas of each student and making noticeable improvements.”


he High Arcal School’s motto is “Opening eyes, minds and hearts” but, thanks to its school council, the student


“It’s important for students to feel like they’re part of a school community”


Meaningful collaborations Te school has strong links with the Academy of English in Oldenburg, Germany, whose students have visited High Arcal every year since 2010. Tis relationship proved particularly poignant in 2014 with the centenary of the First World War, marked by a trip to northern France. “Seeing the graveyards and the trenches was very emotional, but it made it real,” says Sarah Paskin, part of the senior school council and an eco-rep. “It made me understand the full extent of the war—some of the soldiers would only have been our age.” As part of the collaboration, students took part in a


“remembrance and reconciliation” ceremony with students from the Academy of English in October 2014. Selected students from both schools performed “Silent Night” in English and German to symbolise the Christmas Day truce. Further inspired by the trip, students led a project to save a war memorial in the local area that was at risk of being demolished. “Tere were local names on the memorial,” says Paskin, “and preserving that was important to the whole community.” For many of the students involved, learning about the


First World War brought home the importance of democracy —and at High Arcal, the necessity of the school council. “It establishes a democratic system in the school,” says Sohal. “It makes you realise that a democratic system exists and works, which is so important both at school and afterwards, when you start to vote.” High Arcal is a school whose approach to teaching extends


far beyond the classroom, opening eyes, hearts, minds—and the door to a world of opportunities. — www.higharcal.co.uk


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