Learn about Local Goverment

Working with Schools

The following information is designed to assist Councils in providing meaningful and engaging activities for students from local schools.

With the inclusion of Civics and Citizenship Education in both primary and high school curricula, schools are becoming increasingly aware of, and interested in, the services Local Government provides.
There are many ways Councils can become involved with their schools:

Guest Speakers and School Visits
The most usual is a visit to the classroom from an elected member, especially the Mayor, or member of staff. Many students are particularly interested in hearing from Council staff about Public Health and Safety, including environmental health, city compliance, immunisation and dog and parking controls.

Students Visiting the Council Chambers and related services
Schools are keen to visit the council chambers to experience first hand how the council operates. Mock Council meetings (LINK) are an excellent way to demonstrate to students how Council meetings work.
It is very important that students are well prepared for their mock council meeting. It might be useful for Council to communicate with the teacher involved to discuss the meeting and give them some hints in terms of preparation. Preparing for the mock council meeting does not need to take a lot of time and effort and can add to the whole experience.

It is also important that students understand Council meeting procedure. Students can be introduced to the idea of conducting a meeting on a formal basis. An analysis of Council meeting procedure also provides the opportunity to explain to students about the importance of debate, conflict and its resolution in decision-making.

The local library is a valuable resource for students and worth a visit. Some councils have special programs for children, including regular make a book or writing competitions.

Primary school children enjoy depot visits and the opportunity to view works equipment.
These interactions between school and Council can create very positive community relations.

Students working alongside Councils on Community Projects
Sometimes classes work with Council to become involved in particular projects. The Onkaparinga Council's work with Christies Beach High School, Adelaide City Council's work with North Adelaide Primary School and Clare High school's work with the Clare and Gilbert Valley Council provide examples of these productive partnerships. See Case Studies.

Some schools have assisted Councils in community art programs. There are many programs available and some Councils employ or have access to a community artist to assist schools in painting promotional banners, murals, stobie poles or art parks. Some schools have assisted Councils with designing park benches, basketball backboards and other reserve and park equipment.
Some students have become involved in projects which have benefited the local environment. These include tree planting programs at their local reserve or park and the development of wetlands.

Working with Junior Primary students
The age of junior primary school students ranges from five to seven.

The attention span of this age-group is very short - usually five to 10 minutes - and it is essential to have something visual to show the group, not just overheads with words.

Keep in mind that this group are just learning to read. Alternatively, you could invite these children to visit the Council chamber, touch the Mayor's robe, wear his or her chain and sit in the gallery. This group also responds well to depot visits with the opportunity to experience displays of some of the equipment, such as a street sweeper.

Working with Primary Students
The age of these students ranges from seven to 11. This age group will more than likely will have already done some research on local government through their Civics and Citizenship Education. They will probably be interested in specific programs, particularly concerning the environment and pollution, and will understand the significance of health and immunisation programs

The Local Government in Your Community PowerPoint Presentation has been specifically designed for this age-group. Again, this age-group will become bored easily if someone stands out front and talks for too long. Be sure to provide something visually interesting, keep your presentation bright and interesting, and encourage the group to become involved by asking questions or planning complementary activities.
Primary school children are usually well versed in elections and voting through their Student Representative Councils, and are used to being consulted about decisions. You may well be surprised at the level of understanding expressed by this group and their probing questions.

Working with High School Students
High school students will be interested in current affairs and have an understanding of the fact that the payment of rates by their parents contributes to the activities your Council undertakes.
They will be interested in how Local Government developed, where it is headed in the future and whether it has policies on such issues as youth, crime and graffiti, and unemployment. They may want to know about your Council's work experience programs, how many people you employ and what careers are available in Local Government.
They will also appreciate basic information about programs and events that occur in their community.
The Local Government in Your Community PowerPoint Presentation is also still valid for this age- group. If your Council has the facilities, some relevant information about your Council's core business and structure may be inserted into this presentation..



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