An ambitious pupil parliament initiative involving students from Key Stage Two to Sixth Form across all eight of the Vale Academy Trust’s schools has staged its first meeting.

The new student leadership project launched in July with the trust’s two secondary schools, King Alfred’s Academy in Wantage and Larkmead School in Abingdon.

This term saw young representatives from all eight of the trust’s schools take part in a virtual parliamentary session via Microsoft Teams.

The aim of the Vale Academy Trust’s (VAT) Pupil Parliament is to reflect on current issues and consider how best to tackle them by listening to others, raising awareness, and then implementing ideas to support improvement over time across schools.

Read more: Next steps decided for 3,000 new homes on the Green Belt

The Parliament consists of nine KA’s/Larkmead Year 12 students and six primary pupils (two from each primary school in the VAT). Year 12 students undergo a 20-minute Teams interview and selection process to become a member of the parliament. Primary School members are democratically selected by their peers after expressing an interest in taking part.

The Pupil Parliament is an important vehicle for the student voice across the trust.

Primary school representatives gather ideas from within their own schools and these are then voiced and considered during the parliamentary session when they meet together and with their fellow secondary school representatives.

The initial session for Key Stage Five representatives involved a virtual meeting with local MP David Johnston, with a Q&A session on how to ensure the new initiative started on the right footing and to assist with helping create a schools’ agenda. Mr Johnston spoke about his current workload.

He also shared some tips on responding to concerns, saying: “Everybody’s thoughts and feelings matter, whether it is a huge problem or not. Make sure to listen to what everyone has to say.”

Read again: Covid booster jabs: everything you need to know

Sixth form members of parliament democratically vote on which of them will take on the various committee roles. Eda Onay, the Parliament’s current Media Representative said: “It’s been an amazing experience to establish the Pupil Parliament for future students. Our first project is looking at Mental Health – specifically the support available for students in the wake of ‘Covid lockdown’ and how this has affected them.”

Read more: Stars who came out for Micky Lewis memorial game

Leah Spiers, Lead for Pupil Support and one of the staff team involved in launching the project said: “We are excited to build a platform for the new Vale Academy Trust Pupil Parliament, so that the students can maintain this important democratic student voice initiative.”