Participation is a core value for health promoting schools. Student participation at schools is often implemented in various forms of councils. The aims of this article are to summarise the effects of student participation in student councils, to show who benefits most and to discuss characteristics that make student councils effective.
The article is based on a recently conducted systematic literature review. Nearly one third of all included cases were dealing with student participation in the form of student councils. The authors conducted a qualitative analysis of the diverse effects and characteristics of student councils.
Effects of student participation in student councils can be categorised into personal effects on students, effects on interactions and on the school as an organisation. Students actually participating in councils, i.e. the student representatives, benefit most in terms of personal effects (e.g. increasing life skills, self‐esteem, developing democratic skills) and in terms of improvements in peer relationships or student‐adult relationships. All students benefit from improvements in the physical or social environment of the school. The characteristics that potentially make student councils successful concern the council composition, election procedures of representatives, positions and procedures and frequency and timing of council meetings, communication between council and the student body or other actors, the decision‐making power of the council, supportive school context and training of councillors and staff.
This is the first systematic synthesis of research conducted on effects of student participation in student councils. The article discusses the potential of student councils for strengthening the whole‐school approach to health promotion.
Griebler, U. and Nowak, P. (2012), "Student councils: a tool for health promoting schools? Characteristics and effects", Health Education, Vol. 112 No. 2, pp. 105-132. https://doi.org/10.1108/09654281211203402Download as .RIS
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