Student council

Student council

For colleges and universities, see Students' union

Student council is a curricular or extra-curricular activity for students within grade schools around the world. Present in most public and private K-12 school systems across the United States, these bodies are alternatively entitled student council, student government, Associated Student Body, Student Activity Council. Student councils often serve to engage students in learning about democracy and leadership, as originally espoused by John Dewey in Democracy and Education (1917).


According to the Student Council of Ireland, "A Student Council is a representative structure for students only, through which they can become involved in the affairs of the school, working in partnership with school management, staff and parents for the benefit of the school and its students. The student council helps share students’ ideas, interests, and concerns with teachers and school principals. They often also help raise funds for school-wide activities, including social events, community projects and school reform.


Student councils operate in many forms. There are representative-based and modeled loosely after the U.S. Congress, or based on the Executive Branch of the United States, with a President, Vice-President, etc. In this form student representatives and officers are usually elected from and by the student body, although there may be prerequisites for candidacy or suffrage. In elementary schools, there are typically one or two student representatives per classroom and one presiding set of officers. However, many secondary schools have one set of officers per grade level.

An example of the structure of an elementary student council may include a president, a vice president, secretary, treasurer, sergeant of arms, and historian. These roles may be assigned or voted on, either within the student council or by the entire student body. They may also reflect descending grade-levels, with the president in the oldest grade, and so forth. Secondary school governments often have more independence and power than younger governments. Often a student government is overseen by a sponsor, which is usually a teacher at that particular school. Most junior or middle school student councils have a constitution of some sort and usually do not have a judicial branch. Compared to elementary school councils, junior high and high school councils generally have less people.

In some schools each class is assigned a class representative who passes on requests, ideas, or complaints to the student council from students in their class.

Student councils usually do not have funding authority and generally must generate their operating funds through fundraisers such as car washes and bake sales. Some student councils have a budget from the school, along with responsibility for funding a variety of student activities within a school.

Regional and national structures

Student councils can join larger associations, and in the United States, the National Association of Student Councils. In Canada, the Canadian Association of Student Activity Advisors coordinates the national scene, and in the United Kingdom an organization called Student Councils UK provides training, support and coordination for the nation's student councils

United States examples


Secondary high schools, lukio, and vocational schools in Finland have student councils. They incorporate all the students of the institution but their status is marginal, locally and nationally. Such organizations should be heard in all matters pertaining to the education in the institution, but this is often not done.


Since 1998 in Ireland there has been sustained development of student councils in post primary schools. Today approximately 60% of Irish Post Primary schools have local student councils. In 2001 the Union of Secondary Students was founded as the National Umbrella body to organize and coordinate the national campaign efforts of the student councils. The Union of Secondary Students has a membership of 13% of post primary students in the Republic of Ireland, and the number is increasing.


In Malaysian secondary and primary schools almost all student bodies are administered by the Prefectorial Board of each school - usually appointed by the school management.


All schools in Norway are instructed and required by law to have a Student Union elected by the pupils at the school. The goal for every Student Union is to improve their school environment through encouraging social, cultural and other extracurricular events that is happening in the local community. The student unions in Norway are governed by a Board of Directors which is elected directly from the Student Council. The Norwegian pupils democracy is based on the separation of powers. The Student Union has all the legislative powers and the board of directors have the executive powers. The Student Union's resolutions are only consultative to the school's principal or headmaster.

See also


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