22 March 2023 | Community news
Following on from a listening campaign at the end of last year with year 3 and 4 pupils from St James Primary School, Sandra Lawson, Senior Schools Organiser (South West), from Citizens UK recently visited the School again. This time she engaged with parents and carers to understand issues which they believe are a priority in their local community.
This session, in part led by enthusiastic children from the School Council, was designed to encourage parents to discuss what is great about the places they live and what could be done to improve these areas.
Many views had been gathered from the children during their session on 8th December 2022, discussing what made them ‘mad, sad and glad’, which included worries about crossing the busy road outside their school, spending time with their families, eating chocolate and bad driving, in no particular order.
Geraldine Carter, Associate Principal of St James said ‘the ongoing work between the school and Citizens UK is extremely important. Through this process, and the expertise of Sandra, the children are learning how to move beyond simply knowing what is of a concern to them in the world they live in, to saying and doing something to actively improve this. They are developing their skills as an important member of our current community and also as citizens of the future’.
The same concern about the road outside the school was shared by parents when they attended the listening session in January. The concerns raised included: the increasing numbers of houses being built with very little signage alerting drivers to the School or the speed limit; no zebra crossing for children to safely cross; and, no continuous pavements linking the housing estates with the School – meaning parents are frequently walking with little ones and pushchairs along the steep, often-muddy grass bank on dark roads.
The strength of feeling demonstrated a clear desire to focus the collective power of young people, teachers and families on taking positive action in their community.
Derrick Brett, Executive Director of Civic Leadership said ‘It’s been wonderful to see the children chatting about the community they live in and hear what their priorities are for these areas. We are excited to see them feeling empowered through the work they have done and keen to lead on these ideas. We will support them in trying to improve the issues which worry them.’
The next steps will be to encourage other local people outside of the school community to come together to work out a plan of action so that a solution to these problems can be achieved. This meeting will be held on 28th March and will allow for wider community attendance and involvement.
These listening campaigns are part of the Trust’s partnership with Citizens UK. Melissa Trudgill and Derrick Brett have worked with Sandra Lawson to facilitate partnerships with Okehampton College and Okehampton Primary School. Derrick also arranged for Sandra to deliver listening training to staff across the Trust to help with their engagement with parents on specific issues.