Council's Pupil Voice event brings elected members and school pupils together

Council's Pupil Voice event brings elected members and school pupils together

Fri, March 29, 2024

Pupils from 11 post primary schools have enjoyed an opportunity to speak directly with elected members about the issues which matter to them at Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council’s Pupil Voice event.

The Pupil Voice project took place on 5 March in the Diamond Hall at Ulster University.  As part of the programme, representative pupils from the post-primary schools took part in discussions with elected members from parties across the borough. The day finished up with a panel of elected members taking questions directly from the young participants.

The initiative, organised by Causeway Coast and Glens Council’s Good Relations team, was facilitated by broadcaster Mark Carruthers and Peter Osborne from Rubicon. Young people were at the heart of the event, and as future leaders and decision makers, they put themselves forward to participate and develop greater awareness about their civic responsibility.

This project supports the Education Authority’s existing Mainstreaming and CASE Shared Education Partnerships for schools within the Ballymoney, Limavady, Dungiven, Coleraine and Ballycastle areas. It has helped embed Shared Education, and gives pupils a chance to work with their current partner schools while meeting and collaborate with others.

The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Councillor Steven Garth Callaghan, Opened the event in Ulster University Diamond Hall in their Coleraine Campus. Speaking afterwards he said: “I am delighted to have taken part in this important project for both elected members and pupils.  It was wonderful to see the discussions around the tables with pupils.  This project has given elected members the opportunity to have dialogue about what matters in local communities with our young people across the borough.” 

Rachel Campbell, Shared Education Officer from the Education Authority noted: “EA are delighted that a number of the Shared Education Post Primary Partnership Schools in the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council area have participated in this very successful Pupil Voice Programme again this year. The programme has enabled pupils, teachers and locally elected council representatives to come together to explore the issues that are relevant to the young people who live and learn, with and from each other, across the local area.

“The event offered the opportunity for students to ask hard-hitting questions and voice their concerns directly to the council representatives helping to further break down barriers whilst affording young people the opportunity to engage in local politics in a very safe and approachable environment.”

Broadcaster Mark Carruthers, who facilitated the debate between the students and councillors, said: “It’s always a real pleasure to see such thoughtful and thought-provoking engagement between our elected representatives and young people, and to see it happening in such a respectful way. It’s essential that young people are encouraged to participate in the wider civic conversation – and so important for them to know that they’re being listened to. The good news is that this event always makes sure the debate is an honest one – and an entertaining one too.”

Gerard McIlroy, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council’s Good Relations Officer, added: “We are pleased to offer this Pupil Voice project to local schools in the Borough, allowing students to engage in shared learning experiences focusing on the promotion of the voice of young people, exploring sensitive and controversial issues that are relevant to them, while helping build confidence, resilience, citizenship, leadership skills, and raising awareness about diversity which has accumulated in them having the opportunity to engage with their local council representatives to ask the hard-hitting questions pertinent to them.” 

Mr McIlroy added that the Council was “delighted with the response from schools”.

“It’s great to see our elected members from across the political spectrum getting together with some of the area’s younger residents and listening to the discussions that emerge. This project is pivotal in bringing young people from different backgrounds together while also allowing their voice to be heard by elected members regarding local issues,” he said. 

A participating pupil commented: “I enjoyed the round table discussions with councillors.  It gave me the opportunity to speak informally to them about issues that concern me and things that I feel I don’t have a say on.  I am glad that I took part in this years Pupil Voice.” 

Another said: “Pupil Voice has been a great event to be part of.  I liked the fact that we were able to have discussions with various members from parties and seeing how their party views differ.  I has given me great insight into who will work for me when I vote at the next election.”

Pupils taking part at Pupil Voice 2024 in Ulster University Coleraine Broadcaster, Mark Carruthers facilitating the panel question and answer session at Pupil Voice, held in Ulster University Coleraine. Alliance Party Members, Councillor Lee Kane, Councillor Amy Mairs and Alderman Richard Stewart in discussion with pupils at the Pupil Voice event. Sinn Fein Party Members, Councillor Niamh Archibald and Councillor Leanne Peacock in discussion with pupils and teachers at the Pupil Voice event. Ulster Unionist Party Member, Councillor John Wisener in discussion with pupils and teachers at the Pupil Voice event Alderman John McAuley from Democratic Unionist Party takes questions from pupils at the Pupil Voice event.