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Anthem launches pioneering plan to champion student voice

In what is believed to be a first for a multi-academy trust, Anthem Schools Trust has introduced student representatives onto each of its school Community Councils as part of a new 'bold and brave' approach to governance.

Two students from each of the 16 Anthem schools, including from the 11 primary schools, have been chosen by their fellow students to represent them on their local governing body, called Anthem Community Councils (ACCs).

The student representatives are to be known as Timi Champions after the Year 10 student from St Mark’s Academy in Mitcham whose idea it was. He approached Anthem’s CEO, Mohsen Ojja, on a visit to the school to ask why students did not form part of the governing councils. 

Mohsen Ojja, said: “I was so taken by Timi’s direct, open, and honest approach and how he was able to clearly articulate the need for Anthem to consider his and other students’ voices - it was a catalyst for change.  As a direct result of that conversation, the senior team and the Board of Trustees took the decision to appoint two students to all of our 16 Anthem Community Councils. These student associates are to be known as 'Timi Champions'.

“It is essential that our students’ voices are captured, listened to, and considered as an integral part of the framework of how we work. Student voices must be enabled to have genuine impact across all our schools, and this is embedded into our ethos. ”

In a personal letter to Timi, Mr Ojja wrote: “I would like you to be the first of all our 8,613 students who attend Anthem Schools Trust schools to hear about our exciting new governance strategy, which you have helped shape.”

Timi, who said it was the 'proudest moment of his life so far' to have the student representatives named after him, has given the following advice to his fellow associates: “Don't hold back your opinions. You've become a Timi Champion so that your opinions can be heard and so that you can make changes for the greater good of your school. These changes won't just be for us now they will be for future generations when they come to a school that's linked with the Trust.

“Be confident, don't hold back and enjoy your experience, because it's not every day you get to go to a council meeting and sit down and have your say in the things that are going on around you.”

St Mark’s Headteacher, Hannah Fahey, said: “We are incredibly proud of Timi’s bravery in speaking out and contributing to our new strategy, laying the foundation for positive change. His voice, along with those of other students, will undoubtedly shape the future of Anthem Schools Trust.”

The ACC meetings are held termly and the newly appointed Timi Champions will be taking up their posts this spring term with Council meetings booked in for after the February half-term break. Each student associate will have a Timi Supporter, typically a nominated teacher at their school, to help guide them. 

Timi Champions’ responsibilities will be to:

  • Actively and impartially listen and give voice to students at their school

  • Feed into a termly report document for the ACC

  • Help the ACC communicate with students and improve links

  • Help Trustees and the National Team understand the local context of the school

  • Provide feedback on how to make the school and Anthem more responsive to student needs

  • Encourage the ACC to be more visible to the students

Claire Pannell, Director of Governance - General Counsel at Anthem, said: “The local layer of governance in our schools plays a vital role in acting as a conduit for everyone in the Trust to listen, hear, and act on the voices of our wider community.

"The role of the Timi Champion is central to this approach, with a specific focus on capturing the lived experiences of all students across our family of schools. This way we can ensure that their voices are heard by Anthem’s National Team and Trustees, allowing us to address issues and share in celebrations and lessons learned across the Trust for the benefit of all."

Learn all about the Timi Champions...

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