Ormiston Academies Trust’s (OAT) 33,000 students have been given the opportunity to have their voices heard and lead the way following nationwide student elections.
The national student voice initiative was created to bring students from across the Trust’s 43 academies together to encourage them to use their voices to drive change and make a difference.
This year marked the introduction of the first fully-fledged democratic elections, which gave the students the opportunity to take part in a 10-step election that included nominations, full in-person campaigning, ballot elections and an exciting results day.
The students campaigned on a range of issues that mattered the most to them and used their voices to effectively communicate their points and inspire others. Their campaigns have centred on issues such as mental health, championing diversity, and bolstering the voices of those who are disadvantaged.
The elections were split into OAT’s four regions, with academies electing up to 4 students, dependant on the size of their academy to represent their voices regionally. Now the regional student teams have been elected, they will nominate and elect 20 members to form the National Student Voice who will represent and act on behalf of OAT’s 33,000 students.
Each regional student leadership team selects three issues to focus region-wide projects and initiatives on. Last year, the student leadership team for the West highlighted LQBTQ+ campaigns as a salient issue and as a part of this commitment organised a pride campaign to celebrate diversity.
A crucial part of the Trust’s national student voice councils is their contributions to the #WeWill campaign, a national social action project. Through the campaign, the student councils have supported the creation of various projects that centre on health, recycling, the arts, eco-sustainability, and all share the same goal of making a difference in the communities in which the academies serve.
The student voice teams were also instrumental in organising the Trust’s Ukrainian humanitarian appeal which utilised the collective power and support of the community of academies. With the student network already in place, the national student voice team were able to quickly and effectively organise a Trust wide appeal that enabled them to raise over £15,000 for the Disasters Emergency Committee.
The final round of elections will take place over the next few weeks, where the incumbent regional student voice ambassadors will have the opportunity to put together pitches for their campaign to be part of the national council.
Holly Weaver, Former Chair of National Student Voice at Ormiston Academies Trust, said: “I thoroughly enjoyed my experience as Chair of National Student Voice, working closely with other passionate students to enact change and draw attention to the issues we really care about.
“It was good to see how our opinions were valued and were influential in deciding the #WeWill projects. It is important that these projects are shaped by pupils’ ideas as it will ensure they have the most impact on our community.”
Debbie Kinsella, Lead Practitioner for Enrichment at Ormiston Academies Trust, said: “This year’s student voice elections have been truly fantastic. Hearing the passion, thoughts and ideas of our students has been inspiring and I look forward to seeing the amazing work that they do in their time as ambassadors.
“We created our regional and national student voice as a way to bring our students together and to motivate them by showcasing how they can affect change and make a difference. It has been wonderful to see our students be so dedicated and enthusiastic about making the most of their positions.”