Pupils need their own union, says young activist

By Gabriella Jozwiak

| 24 July 2013

A youth activist is seeking to set up a national association for school pupils to give young people a say in education policies.

A national school student association aims to give young people a voice in education issues. Image: Tom Campbell

Luke Shore, 16, from Nottinghamshire, says England is behind other European countries in not having a dedicated body through which pupils can voice their views.

He plans to establish a non-political union for 11- to 19-year-old students in schools, sixth-forms and further education colleges.

The body will enable pupils to address issues they feel are important, such as hidden fees, educational disadvantage and the increasing role of the private sector in education.

The project has already won the backing of school student unions from 19 European countries, as well as the board of the Organising Bureau of European School Student Unions, which represents 23 national school student unions in 20 European countries.

Shore has also received support for the project from children’s minister Edward Timpson, and is due to meet Department for Education officials next month to discuss his plans.

“This is a completely student-led, student-run and student-focused initiative that seeks to give students that direct self-representation currently lacking in British education,” said Shore.

“While lots of different youth organisations have a mandate to focus on youth issues, there isn’t an organisation specifically designed to represent young people in their role as school students, and give them a voice on the development of their own education.”

Once the association has been established in England, Shore plans to expand it to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Shore is working on the project with student union leaders from six European countries through the Pan-European Working Group for School Student Democracy in the United Kingdom – an organisation he founded.

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