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School Councils

The Department of Education is keen to support all schools in the north of Ireland to establish a School Council using the Democra-School programme designed by the Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY).

The programme is designed to support and encourage the development of meaningful school councils and the practice of democracy in the school environment.

What is a School Council?

A School Council is a formal group of pupils within a school who are elected by their peers to represent them and their views.

Why have a School Council?

There are lots of reasons:

Experience from schools in the north of Ireland and further afield shows that a school council that is supported and nurtured helps and improves many aspects of school life.

It is an important and useful way for schools to provide leadership and development opportunities for their pupils.  

Within the revised School Curriculum, one of the key concepts within the ‘Learning for Life and Work’ area is democracy and active participation.  The revised curriculum requires that young people are provided with opportunities to investigate ways to participate in school and society and School Councils are an excellent way in which to increase participation, teaching young people about democracy, citizenship and accountability.

Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child says that children and young people should have a say in decisions that affect their lives.  A School Council can provide a meaningful way in which pupils can voice their opinions and views and have a real say in decisions that affect them.

Where do I start?

If your school is interested in establishing a School Council, more advice and information is available from NICCY, which launched a guidance pack about School Councils which gives practical guidance on how to set up a school council and steps that can be taken to involve pupils in school councils

The pack was developed with the co-operation and involvement of teachers, pupils, and key officials from the Education and Library Boards and the Department of Education.

Every school has received a copy of the pack, but you can download another via the NICCY website at

Information Resources

As well as being able to download a copy of the Democra-School pack you can also get other resources including:

  • Election Guidelines
  • First Past the Post System
  • Sample Nomination Form for School Council
  • Proportional Representation System