Pupils full of bright ideas for improving schools

Primary school pupils are being given the chance to shape the services offered in schools in North Yorkshire and beyond.

In the first event of its kind, up to 200 year 6 pupils took part in interactive workshops to give a valuable insight and help to develop a variety of services offered by the county council to schools from recruiting teachers, to making school meals more enticing to teaching maths.

The Pupil Innovation Festival was held at Thirsk Racecourse by North Yorkshire Education Services (NYES), which is run by the county council.  Pupils were given the chance to trial the use of artificial intelligence with technology partner Century Tech; give their views to Teesside University on the development of virtual reality games to support maths teaching; trial a ‘waste and wormeries’ lesson with Yorwaste, and work with Matt Leivers, Group Chef Manager with the Michelin-starred Star Inn restaurants, to develop new school meals.

Emma Grunwell, Head of Marketing and Innovation for NYES, said: “We decided to use a completely different approach to develop our services by focusing on the end user. The pupils had an energised, fun-filled day in the process. It’s been great to see such a positive attitude from the students and such great ideas.

“I’m especially keen to see more children making pianos from bananas and getting involved in sampling a meal created by a chef working for a group of restaurants with a Michelin star – not many pupils will get that on their menu every day!”

Pupils also talked to staff about what they love about school and what they believe makes a great teacher to help the county council’s in-house teacher recruitment team.

The festival focused on helping to raise attainment and awareness of pupil’s mental health.  External experts Deputy Mitchell and Chimp Management provided techniques and new ways of working to help pupils to manage their emotions.

County Councillor Patrick Mulligan, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Education and Skills, said: “Our pupils had so much fun and were full of wonderful ideas so we are really looking forward to seeing some of these come to life over the next few months. We are hoping to continue to use this valuable pupil insight to develop a range of our services, including school catering, school improvement, energy and sustainability and teacher recruitment.”

Christina Alexander, a teacher at Alverton Community Primary School, Northallerton, said: “It’s been an education for the pupils in the widest sense, as education isn’t just about lessons – the pupils’ horizons have been broadened through this event, so it has been really valuable.”

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