A Manual for School Students

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WHAT IS OBESSU? OBESSU was founded in Dublin in 1975 and it is platform for cooperation between the national school student unions in Europe active in general and vocational secondary education. OBESSU facilitates cooperation among school student unions so they could: Exchange experiences and good practices; Achieve common political objectives on the European level; such as ensuring democratic education accessible to all; Support each other and support founding of new school student unions where such do not yet exist. OBESSU has a Secretariat in Brussels that coordinates and implements the organisation activity programme and which represents OBESSU in the European institutions and other stakeholders in the political arena under supervision of the Board. The organisation brings together member and observer organisations from more than 20 European countries. All member organisations are independent, national, representative, democratic school student organisations.

DEAR READER… The book you hold in your hand, the Manual for School Students, has been written to introduce school students to the work of a school student union with all its different aspects; from the birth to the rooting, from economic management to organizing of events, from students’ leadership and motivation to media-handling and rhetoric. The purpose of this work is to encourage student activism and to facilitate the birth and the growth of the student movements whose existence is always threatened by inexperience and lack of information and knowledge. Moreover, this Manual offers examples of actions, campaigns and services realized by some national school student unions in Europe and it provides information on how to connect with these organisations. The reason why we believe that school student unions are important is that, even though they take different forms of aggregation and confrontation, they all work towards achieving the same goal of improving school students’ conditions, and while doing this they stimulate debate and creativity in schools and in the society as a whole. Furthermore, school student organizations promote participation, activism, and the idea of aggregation and practices of democracy. Through their unions, school students experience democracy in their schools day after day; thus preparing to be active citizens in a complex society. The principle of participation is the basis of our democratic culture. A school which does not take into consideration this principle carries out its role only half the way. It will fill the students’ minds with notions but it will never teach them the skills to use it through as active and responsible citizens. For these reasons we hope that the School Student Work Manual will stimulate many young people to take an active part in the student unions of Europe both locally and nationally, and open a possibility to the students of Europe to give voice to their ideas, their needs, their rights and their interests.

Enjoy your reading! OBESSU


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS‌ We would like to thank everyone involved in the work with creating the Manual for School Students: Jovana Bazerkovska Emma Biermann Georg Boldt Eivind Freng Dale Peter Gerlach Ingrid Gogl Martina Scheggi Bruno Selun Guillermo Toral Martinez David Toxler Antonia Wulff

Macedonia England Finland Norway Sweden Austria Italy France Spain Switzerland Finland

We would like to thank Filippo Riniolo for graphic work. And special thanks to the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe contributing with ďŹ nancial support to this project. Without you, this Manual would not exist.


INDEX What is OBESSU? Dear reader… Acknowledgements… INDEX 1. What is a School Student Union? 2. Activating the school students 3. An organisation’s skeleton – structures for school student unions 4. Making a chenge -how to influence? 4.1. Decision making processes in school 4.2. Analysing, planning and creating strategies 4.3. Meeting with decision makers 4.4. Influence through negotiation 4.5. Strategic alliances 4.6. Building public opinion – campaigns 4.7. Power manifestations 4.8. Demonstrations 5. Making friends - dealing with partners 6. Just do it - organising events 7. Information, ideation, decision making - organising Meetings 8. The spider in the web - oeading meetings 9. What has been said? - minute-taking 10. Knowledge is power - knowledge management in school student unions 11. Getting the cash - fundraising in school student unions 12. Holding on to the cash - financial management in school student unions 13. Working together - leadership and teamwork 14. Think new, think big - creative thinking 15. Right information to the right person - communicating with members 16. Convince them all - presentation skills and rhetoric 17. More than just talking - One-to-one communication 18. Your best friend is your worst enemy - media-handling

3 4 5 7 8 12 15 23 24 26 30 33 36 37 40 42 51 53 61 64 68 70 76 80 82 90 93 96 100 102

Conclusion ANNEX 1. SWOT-Analysis 2. Example statutes for a local school student union 3. Declaration of the Rights of the Child

110 111 112 114 117


120 120 121


INTRODUCTION Day after day school students take steps to improve their condition, both in and outside school. A school student union is a body made up by students who coordinate this work. The union provides coordination, support, representation and avenues for the school students to take action in their interest and in the interest of their schoolmates. Through the union the school student gets a lever that multiplies the result of his/her work. This means that a union can coordinate the students in a school or on regional/national/global level, based on where the biggest momentum is created. OBJECTIVES The school student unions in Europe appear in many shapes but they all share the same objectives and that is to protect and promote the common school students’ interests. To further define this objective we can divide it into five categories.

- Protecting and promoting the school students’ fundamental rights To protect the school students’ fundamental rights means to ensure that the basic principles of society are also applied on issues concerning school students, such as ensuring the right to free speech, the right to association, the absence of collective punishment, and etc. - Protecting and promoting the school students’ educational interests To protect the students’ educational interests first and foremost means to ensure the access, objectivity and quality of education. This can be achieved through influencing pedagogical methods and the way final exams are structured. - Protecting and promoting the school students’ working environmental interests The school students’ interest of a healthy and secure working environment includes both physical and psychological environment. This is achieved by ensuring mutual respect for the entire school community and absence of bullying, harassment and discrimination of different sorts. - Protecting and promoting the school students’ economic interests School students seldom have enough money. To protect the school students’ economic interests can mean both to work on deduction of education-related expenses, introducing/increasing government financial support to school students, and to lobby for discounts on such services/products that are often used by school students as libraries, cafés, public transportation, and etc.


- Protecting and promoting the school students’ social interests School students are not only enjoying school because of education but also because of the possibility to be a part of a social network. Most school students are minor aged which in many countries means they are not allowed to go to discos, night clubs or alike and since the school students do not have so high financial resources there are seldom many activities or events organised for them. Therefore, school student unions can organise activities and events such as sports tournaments, concerts or parties to give the school students a meaningful spare time.

How do school student unions protect and promote these interests? Basically, there are three main categories of work organised by a school student union to protect and promote these interests. Political action, representation and lobbying to influence the decision makers; Changing public opinion and attitudes in the interest of the school students; and Organising own activities, events and providing services for the members.

Political action, representation and lobbying to influence the decision makers The school students’ situation is controlled by several decision makers. Teachers control pedagogical methods, head teachers control the overall issues in school, local and national authorities control the legislation, and etc. To be able to improve the school students’ situation the union should influence these decision makers. Most well established school student unions are considered actors in secondary education and are therefore consulted by authorities in most issues in this field and as such have a good opportunity to influence the school students’ situation from its initiation. (For more details, see “How to influence”)

The Final Exam Complaint Line The Final Exam Complaint Line is the Dutch school student organisation, LAKS’ (Landelijk Aktie Komitee Scholieren) project to improve their final exams. For approximately two decades ago the organisation of the final exams in Holland was of poor quality. Exams were out of proportion with each other, meaning that some were very difficult, whereas some were very easy, on the local level, organisation of the final exams was sometimes best described as chaotic and occasionally exams even contained mistakes. At that time school students did not have where to forward their complaints, and therefore in 1988 LAKS set up a final exam complaint line, which is still running. The organisation has successively gained influence over the exams and the whole related process. LAKS is now represented in the meeting where it is decided how heavy exams should be marked. They also investigate complaints on mistakes in the exam. If they find that complaints are acceptable, they directly inform the institution administering the exams. If they have really done a mistake they often decide to give full points for the question to everyone. In 1999 LAKS received approximately 7000 complaints, whilst in 2005 they gathered 76000 complaints. This does not mean that exams have been getting worse, only that people know the project so well that they dare to tell LAKS about their bad experiences. As a matter of fact exams have been getting better due to the fact that everyone benefited from the feedback that students gave through the Final Exam Complaint Line. Many mistakes regarding organization of the exams have been wiped out, and many big mistakes do not occur so often anymore. As this project grew bigger, LAKS gained much more media attention. Many newspapers call daily, and they cooperate with a media organisation, which includes 4 exam journals on radio and 2 on TV each day during the final exam period. Changing public opinion and attitudes in the school students’ interest All components of the school students’ situation are not controlled by decision makers. When it comes to prejudice and discrimination such as racism, sexism and homophobia, both in the relation between student and teacher and between student and student, a real change can only be achieved through a general improvement of the attitudes in school.

The Austrian campaign against homophobia in schools


The campaign “Du hasst mich weil ich dich lieben könnte” (literal translation: “You hate me because I could love you”) by the Austrian School Students Organisation AKS dealt with the topic of homophobia in general, focusing on schools. The purpose of the campaign was to raise awareness of the fact that schools still do not deal openly with homosexuality. Old fashioned opinions influence the situation and worsen the school climate as well as the quality of education itself. One of the demands was to include homosexuality in the curriculum, not only by dealing with it in for example subjects like “Sexual Education” but also by reviewing school books, and not only using hetero nor-

mative pictures (for example mother, father and kid) but also showing for examples a couple of two women. During the campaign flyers, posters and sticker postcards were produced and distributed, and the starting point of the campaign was a media event.

Organising own activities, events and providing services for the members Some of the school students’ needs can be satisfied independently by the school student union through organising different events, activities and providing services to the members. The unions in Europe organize everything from seminars on sexism and gender equality in schools to culture carnivals, dormitory services and legal advice and support for school students.

The Finnish Student Card Student card is one of the most known symbols of the Finnish Union of Upper Secondary School Students (Suomen Lukiolaisten Liitto, SLL). The card is approved by the Ministry of Education in Finland and is therefore an official student card. It proves that one is a SLL member and it also proves that one is studying in upper secondary school in Finland. By showing the card, upper secondary school students obtain discounts in museums, hostels, fairs, and etc. In addition, SLL has negotiated more than 600 national and local discounts only available to the SLL members. Examples of national benefits: discounts on public transportation (trains and buses), optician services, fast food chains, book stores, preparation courses, subscriptions to magazines, and etc. Examples of local benefits: discounts on driving schools, restaurants, hairdressers, cafes, hostels, clothing stores, and etc. The card looks like for example a credit card and is made of plastic. The card has its owner’s photo, name and the name of the school. In the back of the card there is a magnetic tape and SLL name in both English and Swedish language. In the lower left section of the card there is a school year mark (for example 2006-2007) and it states the expiry date. When one pays membership fee for the next year (14 €), a new sticker is sent to the owner (to be placed on the card) and the card is valid for the next school year. SLL provides the student card to its members because SLL thinks that students are a special group in society and since going to school is their work, they should be granted discounts to get products and services for lower rate. All discounts and other benefits are published in SLL magazines and web pages.


INTRODUCTION “The students are not engaged” or “the students don’t care” are statements one too often hears from media, politicians and sometimes even from school student activists. This is not true. The vast majority of school students are engaged in something and all students care for their situation. If they are not engaged in the school student union it might be because they are engaged in something else or because the union is not able to show the students the connection between the union and their situation. It is important not to blame the school students for not being active. Below we will present some views on activism, what motivates people and how to use these forces of motivation. BASIC ACTIVISM So what is “being active?” In general it is about changing a situation and reacting when things are wrong. But while for some people it means going out of their way and doing everything they can for their causes, other people might see activism as something boring, annoying, or something they would really like to take part in, but they cannot.

Figure 1 shows a very general model of 4 different reactions to school student activism. Any school student can be located somewhere on this “map of school student activism”. From left to right, people are increasingly active in the union; from the bottom to the top, people are more and more motivated. The 4 most common types of attitudes towards school student work are the Activist (motivated and active), the Frustrated (motivated but passive), the De-motivator (active, but apathetic), and the Follower (passive and apathetic.) Of course it should not be seen as an exact truth but a model that can bring some new perspectives to the issue.


The ACTIVISTS are motivated and active. They know what they are fighting for, they are motivated to achieve their goals, and they are active either in a union, or alone for another cause.

The FRUSTRATED are motivated to act and make a difference, but they are still passive. One reason could be that they do not know the ways to get active in their field; for instance, they could be unaware of the existence of their union, or they may not know how to join it, or are too shy to approach someone and become active. Another possible reason for someone to be motivated but not active is that the system does not allow it. For example, a group of students is motivated to set up a local school student union, but the school regulations or the school head teacher will not agree with. Obviously they should then try to change the system. If there is no union at all, and you are one of the frustrated students we are describing, a good solution is to keep reading.

The DE-MOTIVATORS are apathetic, i.e. they will not put their energy in your fights, but they are also active, and usually they spread their apathy. They often try to convince other students that it is not worth participating in the work of the union, or they can have a cynical attitude towards the work. The reasons for this are various; for example, someone could be Frustrated, and because they are unable to become active, they lose their motivation and want to convince other people (usually the Followers) that it is useless to put time and energy in the fights they did not manage to join. He/she could have been an activist, lost the motivation but out of habit continued to be active. Other common reasons are that the De-motivator may find the cause worthless or simply likes to be against the masses just for the sake of it. Although the De-motivators are rare, they are very harmful for motivation at a personal scale, or at the school scale. A good attitude towards De-motivators is to underline that even though their opinions are respectable, they have to respect others’ motivation and not actively bring it down.

The FOLLOWERS are apathetic and passive students. Sad to say, but many school students are Followers: although they do not mind going to events from time to time, they will not take the initiative to join the union, let alone start a campaign or constructively discuss with the authorities when something goes wrong. Followers are not wrong; anybody might or might not be motivated to become active in the union. It is your job to make them motivated.

FORCES OF MOTIVATION What motivates people to spend their time on different interests differs from person to person. What motivates you is not necessary the same issue that has motivated others. People enjoy and are motivated by various things. Some things that can motivate people are as follows: -

fighting injustices being a part of a team getting to know new people seeing the result of one’s work getting compliments gaining experience getting official attention gaining status competition doing something one is good at experiencing new things and new places learning new things duty working towards a goal one finds important anger challenge

To move the students upwards on the map of school student activism and make as many people as possible engaged in the work of the school student union, it is important that the union is taking advantage of all these forces of motivation. Everyone should be able to limit his/her activism to the area in which he/she is interested. Just because you are into programming and want to help out producing a website for the union it does not mean that you want to attend several meetings about tuition fees. There are many activities competing for the school students’ attention. The union is not so much against other non governmental organisations but against whatever else a student can spend his/her time rather than being active in the school student union. To get more school students involved in your union, you must win this competition. The union must be more attractive to the school students than the other activities and the connection between the work of the union and the individual student’s situation need to be clearly visible. The amount of engagement and work necessary for participation must not exceed the benefits such as results, satisfaction of doing good deeds, experience, satisfaction of being a part of a team, knowledge, new friends, acknowledgement, identity, status, and etc. that a school student gains from participating in the work of the union. It is up to you to create the conditions that bring the largest amount of engagement to the participants.


IN PRACTICE There are several ways to motivate school students to get them involved in the union. Here are some of the fundamental strategies presented. Build awareness As mentioned earlier some people are motivated by working towards a goal they have found important and by fighting injustices. In different ways inform (link to Creative Thinking) about injustices you see in the school students’ situation today and how the school student union can be a part of the solution to the problem (For more details on campaigns, see “How to influence”). Make the results visible By making the results of your organisation visible you can activate far more school students. No student is that stupid that he/she wants to participate in an organisation which does not achieve anything. That would be a total waste of time. Therefore you need to communicate the results of the union at all times. Put up posters everywhere stating the concrete results. Throw off parties or concerts when you have achieved something real big. The union results should be visible to the school students all the time. This is especially important to attract the frustrated who can see that the union can turn their motivation into results.

Elevorganisationen i Sverige (the school student organisation of Sweden) has made stickers to all the local unions stating “the School Student Union have fixed this” that can be put on all small improvements such as new coffee machine, new mirrors in the toilets, new lockers for the students or whatever basic, everyday things the school student union have achieved.

Build a team that is open and accessible Many school student unions start their work by organising a big kick-off at the beginning of every school year where active school students go away for a weekend to get to know each other, educate themselves, establish a common vision, and etc. Besides building awareness, getting the chance to present the former results of the union in details, making the participants learn new things and fighting injustices, you have a brilliant opportunity to build a great team. Being a new activist in the union who gets tens maybe hundreds of new friends to say ‘hi’ in the corridors is a great motivator. (For more details, see Teambuilding in leadership) At the same time it is important that the union does not seem too internal/closed. Certain jargon or humour is often developed in a group as part of developing an identity, dividing the people who accept the joke from those who do not. This can strengthen the crew but at the same time risk to exclude people that are not yet “in the game” and prevent new activists from getting involved in the union.

Give attention, credits and acknowledgement One of the simplest ways of attracting new people to the union that is too seldom used is by telling people that you want them to join. Catch people who you trust in the corridor and explain them why they would be great contributor to the union. If you tell someone that you find him/her talented and skilled and that you think he/she would contribute a lot to the work, you are using several of the motivation forces listed above. People need to feel that they are valuable and important. This is also important to keep the activists motivated. Enjoy your work Many companies have started to understand that the wage is not the only reason for people to work. Therefore it is becoming more and more common for companies to employ people responsible for organising other benefits for the employers such as parties, trips, recreation centres, happenings, and etc., giving the employers more reasons to work besides the wage. The same applies to the school student union. People cannot only work for the result. Sometimes things go wrong. Maybe you do not reach the expected results. To ensure that the work of the participants will not be in vain you must have a good time, all the time. Celebrate your victories, and even more important, celebrate your defeats because that is when you need it the most. The “jungle telegraph” (spreading information mouth to mouth) is also the best way to create a good public image of the organisation. If people have a good time and enjoy the work it has an enormous spin-off effect since they will tell their friends who hopefully tell their friends and so on. Many school student unions tend to use duty as a general motivation force. It is often that you hear people say:”Come on, you have to come to the meeting!” The problem with this is that people driven by duty seldom take own initiatives and seldom attract other people to the organisation. Duty is a motivation force without spin-off effect. Stay away from it! Reflect Creating a motivating environment is the basis for a successful organisation. What does your school student union do to create this environment? Reflect and write down what motivation forces you use in your organisation and what forces you do not use as much. How can you start using these in a better way?



INTRODUCTION “The simpler the structure is, the easier your work will be”, is a good sentence to keep in mind whenever you are talking about structures of your organisation. However, the structure of your organisation is important in order to legitimize the claim of representing school students, to ensure democracy, to facilitate activities, to ensure knowledge management and to get a better overview over the organisation. Clear structures also allow students to access the right person within the union more easily. But structures can also be counterproductive. Make sure that the work with structures and regulations of the organisation never steal time from the true activities your union should be engaged in, by over-complicating things. Keep the focus on the real work and put the bureaucracy into background - this is not the face of an organisation you want to be showing. It is also important to remember that structures are something you introduce when there is a need for it. Maybe you have so many activities that you need to establish some kind of regulations and back-bone on how they are interconnected and how they are being governed. Never establish structures and try to delegate them activities; it should always be the other way around. The optimal structure of an organisation depends on the objectives, history and activities of the organisation as well as on many other factors. As stated in chapter “What is a school student union?” unions can serve the interests of students both by political actions and representation as well as by organising own events, activities and providing different services. When it comes to structuring your union you can often see a conflict between these two areas of work. When it comes to representing the students it is important for the union to have a clear, democratic, representative structure where the majority of the members can control what their representatives are saying when they communicate with different decision makers. Representatives will also be more convincing when fighting the student case if they can show the authorities the strong student support they have, (For more details, see “How to influence?”). When it comes to organising own events, services and activities, the union results depend on how many students are engaged in the work and how accessible the organisation is. Since there is no need for a majority decision on most of these issues; strict, representative structures can be an obstacle that makes the organisation hard for ordinary students to access who are just interested in organising an event or activity. You need to find a satisfying balance for the work of your organisation. Therefore there is no general valid structure we can present you in this chapter; however you can always research various union models through sites such as www.obessu.org for more information.

Different levels School student unions are generally active on four different levels: LOCAL SCHOOL STUDENT UNIONS are active in one single school. On this level a big variety of different structures and an even bigger variety of names for those structures exist. But all those unions have a common base in protecting and promoting different students’ interests and rights either through affecting public opinion, influencing decision makers, or by providing services for the students of the school. Since local school student unions are a good instrument for teaching active citizenship and democracy in schools, they are sometimes set up by head teachers and other authorities with an interest in the students’ democracy training. This can result in lack of the union independence, which is so important for treating the relationshi p with students at the grass root level. Although local unions can achieve a lot of results in schools, some decisions affecting the student situation are taken at a higher level. To influence these decisions and make further gains, you need to be active in your regional or national school student union (or perhaps set one up!) REGIONAL AND NATIONAL SCHOOL STUDENT UNIONS are established on levels where we can find other education decision makers such as regional and national governments. The regional and national school student unions coordinate the influential work on their respective levels. Furthermore, they facilitate communication between different local unions to spread good practices and make them exchange experiences as well as disperse relevant news, trends and projects concerning education and school student situation. The regional and national organisations are mostly created by local unions that want to influence decision-making processes on a higher level. Therefore they are also entirely based on local unions and depend on their activity. Without local level all regional and national unions lack an actual base, and as a result, can be powerless.

INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL STUDENT UNIONS, such as OBESSU, aim at facilitating exchange of experiences between national school student unions as well as influencing political decision-making on international level. One of their main objectives is to provide international unity of students, support and learning mechanism. For more info, see “What is OBESSU?” and WWW.OBESSU.ORG


Levels Local school student unions

Regional / National school student unions

Area of work

In school and local area

Limited to the region / nation, with connections to local school student unions


Teachers, head teachers, school Regional/national parliaments, board, municipality governments and decision makers


Promoting students’ interests through representation, services and building public opinion

Coordination of influential work (lobbying, national/regional campaigns), exchange of experiences and knowledge management, spreading information on news and trends in education and student issues

The structure of your national organisation can focus on different political levels. What level to focus on depends on several issues, and in particular it depends on where the school students identify themselves and where most decisions concerning school students are taken.

In France, control of the education system is heavily centralised. The Minister of Education in France can, at any given time, look at his watch and know what the students are doing at that moment (“Oh, it’s nine o clock in the morning. Then the 6th graders have their fourth algebra lesson”). Therefore national school student unions are strictly focusing on central, national government. In Sweden, local schools are very independent and can shape their education system in the way they believe it is best for the students. This leaves a lot of scope for the local school student unions and explains why Swedish school student union primarily focuses its resources at a local level.

MEMBERS It may seem obvious that school student unions are clearly made up of school students, however, the union needs to further define which students are counted as members. Consider whether you are only working in the field of upper secondary education or if lower secondary students can join the union as well. Should you focus on just one area of secondary education such as vocational education or general secondary education or should you be available to all? Most local unions work with either a) an automatic membership (all students in a school are members unless they terminate their membership) or b) an active membership (every student who wants to be a member of the union needs to take an active stand either through paying a membership fee, signing up as a member or something similar). Automatic membership can save you a lot of administration since you do not need to keep track over who is in and who is not, but at the same time you have no clue of how well anchored you are in the student community, many students could be members of the union without even knowing it. The active membership on the other hand means a lot of administration but at the same time means you can claim to speak on behalf of the members of your organisation since every single member would have taken an active stand to join your organisation. The union can also easily see if it looses popularity among the students since it will be visible in the membership record. It is also possible to have more categories of membership: a basic membership for each student, an advanced membership with a membership card and possibly some goodies for students paying a little fee and a patron or alumni membership without any voting rights for former students and other people supporting the union. DECISION MAKING BODIES When you decide on a structure of your organisation, it might be necessary to divide different tasks and issues between different groups within the union (hereinafter ‘bodies’).

The voice of the members - General Assembly, Congress, Convention, and etc. The organisation consists of its members and therefore they need to be able to have ownership and control within the union over the important issues. It can be issues concerning political aims, elections for positions within the union, organization activities, and use of common financial resources and/or union regulations. This can be achieved in many different ways but most organisations organise a meeting where they gather all the members, or representatives of local unions to discuss these issues. This is the highest decision making body within the organisation and is often called the organisation’s ‘General Assembly’, Convention or Congress. Often decisions are recorded in four main organisation documents as follows:




The organisation views are recorded in the organization Political Programme. By deciding on a common political view the organisation ensures that no-one representing the organisation promotes views unless shared by the majority. -


In the Activity Programme the activities for the following years are stated. By setting a clear agenda the members make sure that the executed activities are truly demanded by the members. -


Activities, political actions and representation need proper finances. By deciding on the organization Budget, members can prioritize the resources to the events and actions where they find it most necessary. -


It is good to establish clear rules of how this meeting is supposed to work in order to avoid internal conflict and to ensure democracy. For example, if there is something members would like to change, maybe all the participants should have a right to submit proposals in advance of meetings. This way they can discuss the proposal with other people prior to the meeting. Or maybe the rules should define who has the right to vote, or state the minimum of participants present at a meeting for it to be valid. It is up to you to define what you need. Once defined, these rules should be stated in the Statutes of the organisation. The statutes also give legitimacy to the organization representatives. Democratically elected representatives often receive more respect from various stakeholders than random student activists. You will most certainly be asked for the statutes/constitution of your organisation when opening a bank account or dealing with authorities. In most countries statutes are necessary to receive financial support. In the Appendix of this Manual you can find template statutes that can give some insight in this area. Since there are a lot of national regulations concerning what the statutes should contain in order to be valid, it is good to consult someone from your country with expertise on how to establish them. When creating the Statutes you have to find a balance between general longterm formulations but interpreted differently and stricter formulations that will be very clear but that need to be redefined frequently as the organisation develops. The Statutes are also a safety net which guarantees that certain procedures which ensure legitimacy and continuity are followed. They should also prevent the organisation from being hijacked in the interest of a minority.

The co-ordinators and representatives - Board, Executive Council, and etc. In every project it is good to have a clear division of roles and responsibilities. For example, if you have had a demonstration committee, you would need a responsible designer for flyers and pamphlets, a media co-ordinator, and etc. In the same way a union needs some co-ordination to function properly. You might need to state clearly who is responsible for handling union financial resources, who is stated as the organization contact persons (so other stakeholders know who to contact with), who is responsible for organising the General Assembly, who is collecting the mail, who is the official representative to communicate with the government, and etc. These are just examples of tasks where it is necessary to be clear who is responsible for what. Maybe you have identified several more areas in your union that need specific positions. People holding these positions are often gathered in the organization Board or an Executive Council. The most common positions in the Board are:

THE PRESIDENT Responsible for co-ordinating the board and for official representation of the organisation. THE TREASURER/CASHIER The treasurer/cashier is responsible for the organization financial resources. (For more details, details “The Financial management”) THE SECRETARY Responsible for documentation and archives of the organisation. (For more details, see “The Knowledge management” and “Taking minutes”)



INTRODUCTION It is right of the school students to develop and express views freely on matters affecting them, as much as it is school student right to freely associate. When in association to represent their views and opinions, school students must be seen as stakeholders in the educational process, as they are competent to say what they think or how the different educational decisions affect them. School student unions have unique mandate in their work - to speak on behalf of the school students and to influence decision-makers to listen what the school students have to say or what the school students think. Through strengthening school students’ legal situation, many hope that school students may influence their education much more. The struggle with improving the school students’ legal status (the rights) is very important but it is not the whole lot. To fully take advantage of the legal situation, school students need to be effective when it comes to influencing decision makers. Interim school students must be seen as part of the decision-making processes and an equally respected party in creating policies by those decision-makers. The influence of the school student movement is not guaranteed and will never be, but this must never be the reason to stop the fight. Even though we sometimes lack experience and need to work harder to earn respect from decision makers, we should always have in mind that we speak on behalf of a social category that we are elected by to represent. It is necessary that we do not remain alone on the way, but get teachers, parents, politicians to understand our view point and support our efforts. This may be often done through lobbying, discussion and mobilization. Through understanding the processes behind the decision-making, with an instinct concerning how these processes should be influenced and through social competence results have been achieved.

4.1. Decision Making Processes in School DECISION MAKERS IN SCHOOL Head teachers are in most countries legally responsible for all activities in a school and therefore are the highest decision making body in a school working in premises set up by other stakeholders. Who controls what in a school differs from country to country. The power is shared between the head teacher, the school board (or communal/municipality board), the national agency for education, the ministry of education, and etc. All of these bodies might be interesting for the school student union’s influence. Some will be harder to access than others, depending on their interest in meeting the union representatives. Sometimes you will have to go around the responsible decision makers to find more accessible ways to influence. In some countries school students are represented in the School Board with the right to vote. DECISION MAKING IN THEORY To influence the bodies mentioned above, the school student union needs to understand how a decision is made. It is easy to think that all questions live their own lives without any real rules but the following model defines the process of all questions from when they are mentioned until they are implemented. WHAT DO THESE DIFFERENT STEPS MEAN? Problem Alternatives Recommendation Decision Accomplishment Evaluation Feedback

- The problem is defined, structured and its source identified - The different alternative solutions are defined - One alternative is singled out as official proposal - The formal decision is made - Practical implementation - How did things go? - Learning from the mistakes and successes

Where in this process an issue has a big impact on who you should try to influence and what kind of demands you can lobby for? The basic rule is: the longer the process has gone the harder it is to influence the decision. One should remember that the process is cyclic and therefore it might be good to act even though you cannot win this issue but you can always take a stand before the next process.


PROBLEM OR SOLUTION Where in the process the decision defines if the school student union should propose problems or solutions? When the school student union puts a new issue on the agenda a problem is lifted. This is relatively easy to do and the competition on the “problem market” is therefore hard. The problems lifted by the school student union are competing against the problems stated by teachers, parents, politicians, and etc. for the attention of the decision makers. If you present possible solutions along with your problem you increase competitiveness of your problem. When the process has started there is no reason to lift problems, the decision maker has already decided on a problem that he/she wants to solve. Here is a possibility to influence through presenting a solution. This demands that the school student union has been informed and consulted. Therefore, it is very important for the union to be recognized as a stakeholder in the decision making process. If the union can produce solutions its possibility to influence is increased immensely.

Example - The mobile ban, part 1 A total mobile phone ban has recently been introduced in a school against the will of the school students. The issue was in the accomplishing stadium within the decision making process. How did the school student union act? According to the model of decision making processes the next stadium to influence was the evaluation and feedback stadium. The school student union could not abolish the ban during the evaluation but they could come with constructive criticism: What were positive vs. negative effects? The ban was introduced since the mobile phones rang in the class rooms and disturbed the lessons. Was the ban contributing to its purpose? What could be improved? Here the union has the possibility of planting ideas and taking a stand before the next process. Maybe the total ban was a step too far. The main objective was mobile free lessons not mobile free corridors. Although the head teacher and teachers are overjoyed by their new ban the union can make a base for a future change.

4.2. Analysing, Planning and Creating Strategies The first step in all lobbying work is to analyze, plan and create a strategy.

MONITORING THE POLITICAL LANDSCAPE Influence work is about influencing other groups or individuals that all are a part of a political landscape. Effective lobbying demands that the school student union is monitoring the political landscape. In practice on a local level this means to know how the talk goes in the teachers room, what is discussed among the school students (this is all too often forgotten with the risk that the school student union becomes something internal for a smaller group of students) and what other relevant stakeholders think of this and that issues.

The local school student union should at least have channels to the following bodies in order to be able to “hear how the chat goes”... Head teacher Teachers The school board (in the cases where such exists) Local politicians

On a national level the same refers to... Educational agencies Educational ministries The teachers trade union The head teachers trade union The parents association Political parties The national youth council Other youth organisations

“To hear how the chat goes” means that someone from the school student union has lunch, grabs a cup of coffee, and etc. with representatives from the groups mentioned above on a regular basis to hear what they have on their minds. You could also attend meetings of the groups such as teacher conferences, and etc.


SELECTING ISSUE Most school student unions have a political programme that defines the organization values and opinions. The programme often contains several issues of which the union can choose what to lobby for at the moment, depending on what issues are on the agenda of the other stakeholders/bodies active in the field. The current shape of the political landscape will affect the success of the lobbying. Maybe all of the teachers have recently been to an anti-bullying conference or to a presentation of a new research report in pedagogy. To increase the prospect of success, the school student union could select issues that are fitting in the political landscape. But some pressing issues need to be promoted however limited the prospect of success might be. ANALYSIS Much of the success of the lobbying work is defined already in the analysis phase. That is why it is important that the union analyzes the issue as well as the political landscape. These two are tightly connected.

In the analysis of the issue following questions should be posed: What is the concrete objective? What is the background of the issue? Are there any other issues that this issue is based on? What are the different viewpoints about the issue? Is any of these more correct? Who do we lobby for? (who is benefiting from the change we propose, what school student groups are we reaching?) How strong is the support among the students? In the analysis of the political landscape following questions should be posed: Can we succeed in this issue? Who has the power over the issue? Can we access this person? What alliances can be built? What are our potential opponents? Once the analysis is made the strategy can start to take form. The strategy should treat the way the union works, what people to talk to and what methods to use (you could use the SWOT-analysis in the annex).

Strategy in brief To work strategic, meaning to focus on the objective is necessary. Strategic work can be described with the following model: 1. 2. 3. 4.

Objective identification Analyzing and planning of means Accomplishment Evaluation

Concerning lobbying activities it is usually much more effective to choose a smaller number of issues to work with. Doing this the union also seems more focused and can promote a clearer message to the public.

EXAMPLE - THE MOBILE BAN - PART 2 The total mobile ban has just been introduced in the school. Each union meeting has come up to treat the ban, many classes were really upset. Some students demand that the union abolishes the ban totally. The union has problems finding common opinion, should the ban be reduced or totally abolished? The union decides to treat the issue and start analyzing the situation. Why has the issue come up? Many lessons have been disturbed because of school students forgetting to shut off their mobile phones. In the beginning the head teacher tried only to ban the mobiles during the lessons but they continued to ring anyway. Now the ban is total; from entering the school until you leave it. The background of the issue is that the confidence in the students’ capacity of taking care of their phones is down to zero. The mobile issue would not have been an immense one, if the head teacher and teachers had not recently discussed the importance of order and discipline in the school. The union draws the conclusion that the solution to the problem needs to rhyme with the mentality of order and discipline without being that hard. The ban affects four different groups: 1. 2.

3. 4.


The teachers who think it is good with more disciplined lessons. The large majority of the school students whose mobile phones never ring during the lessons and who honestly want order during the lessons and who are sad because they no longer can use their phones during the brakes. The small group of school students whose phones never seem set on silent and who are very upset over the new rule. This group makes a lot of fuzz but it is not very representative. The head teacher who listens to the teachers and who has an ambition of running a school of discipline and order.

These are the four main views on the issue. These four views are the beginning of their analysis of the political landscape. What is interesting is that

three out of four groups are actually not upset over the ban during the lessons. The school student union formulates a proposal to lobby for. A total removal of the mobile ban will never make it. It is completely against the opinion of the head teacher who wants a school of discipline and order. To lobby for the same opinion as the small group that is making a lot of noise and that always dislikes rules is not possible either. It is hard to make anyone pity them. What can be done is to lobby for the opinion of the big, quite well-behaving mass of students. They did not disturb anyone before the ban. The solution should build on the trust that exists for these relatively well behaving students. This analysis results in the school student union deciding to present a problem:”the current ban makes it impossible for school students to receive and ring important calls during the teaching-free tim e in school.” The union also has a solution to the problem: “Reduce the total mobile phone ban”. The head teacher decides on all the rules in school. What alliances can be built? The teachers are happy as long as the mobile phones do not disturb the lecturing. The teachers are therefore possible partners and potential opponents. The union decides to meet the head teacher and discuss the issue and propose a solution. At the same time they start to build support for the issue in the classes.

4.3. Meeting with Decision Makers School student unions in many countries have achieved tremendous results through meeting with decision makers on a regular basis and through getting good channels to promote their ideas. Much of the success is based on the unions knowing how to talk to adults. There is no universal recipe for this, everyone has their own style. However, “social competence” is central for the result. Some practical tips are presented below.

CANAE (the Confederation of School Student Unions in Spain) is member of the Spanish government’s stakeholder group concerning secondary education. Every time new proposals in the field of secondary education are made the government consults them and other stakeholders. (For more details, see “What is a school student union?”) Some tips THINK PSYCHOLOGICALLY To influence someone your opponent must respect you. All human relations are based on respect. Be sensitive towards the decision maker, do not try to force yourself to him/her, try to see things from his/her view it will be in your interest. LISTEN Most adult decision makers dismiss young people with a different opinion than their own because they think that young people have not understood their point. Show that you understand and are willing to explore further their view but still do not agree. MEET ONE PERSON AT THE TIME A good way of influencing someone is building a common trust. This is best done person to person. Build personal relations with relevant decision makers such as the head teacher, politicians who are active in the field of education, and teacher trade union representatives, and etc. FOCUS ON THE LONG TERM RESULT Do not expect to get a yes or no at the first meeting. Take your time to build the relation. Start to discuss the issue. Sense the feedback. Are your judgements in the analysis of the situation correct or should they be revised?


BE WELL PREPARED Most important of all is that you know the issue and have sharpened your arguments. Bring your views/demands and arguments on paper so it can be left to the decision maker in print. If you meet someone that is a complete stranger to you, try to find as much information on the person as possible. Who is this person? What is his/her background? Has he/she already stated any opinion concerning your issue? Even if the information you find does not have any direct use you will get confident by being well informed and you will give a well

informed impression. CONSIDER THE NUMBER AND THE CHARACTER OF THE ISSUES YOU LOBBY FOR It is important to have a clear strategy behind your choice of issues. How many questions can the union handle with quality? Are you promoting so many issues that you make it impossible for the decision maker to swallow the whole package? Are some of the issues compromise-issues, issues that you can back off from to show good will towards your opponent? The conclusion is: consider your choice of issues in detail! BE REALISTIC IN YOUR DEMANDS No one will take the union seriously if you lobby for unrealistic issues and demands. As mentioned trust is everything. By promoting unrealistic demands the decision makers’ trust in the union will be gravely undermined. SHOW YOUR REPRESENTATIVITY It is important that the decision maker understand that the opinion or proposal you present is the opinion of a clear majority of the school students. If it is obvious to the decision maker that the school student union represents an opinion that is not shared by the school students, he or she has no more reason to listen to the union representatives than to any other school students. Through petitions or protocols from class meetings you can prove the support by the school students. It can also be strategic to select representatives who are looking and acting as the average school student in order to even more underline that the opinion of the union is the opinion of the school students. Do not wear any religious or political symbols (unless you are very sure of your counterpart’s opinions). Wearing a red star in a meeting with a conservative will only make things harder. Most school student unions are politically and religiously independent and the same refers to representatives while representing the union (what is being done outside the union is a totally different thing). FOLLOW UP ACCOMPLISHMENT OF DECISIONS Decision makers often promise a lot. Sometimes they just do not remember what they have promised. Agreeing is an easy way to get rid of people and at the same time most decision makers want to be good guys and do not like conflicts. Make sure that you follow up the accomplishment of the promise. Meet the decision maker in a period of time after the promise was given and ask for a presentation of what has been done. WRITE DOWN THE RESULTS After a meeting it is important that you take short notes and write down reflections concerning the meeting and the process. Lobbying work is a long-term process and in a union the flow of activists is really fast. Minutes and reflections in print make it easier for new people to take up the work. Decision makers also tend to promise a lot. The documentation helps you to remind them of their statements and makes it easier for you to see them fulfil their promises.

Risks in building good relations with decision makers There are also risks with regard to building good relation with decision makers that all school student representatives should bare in mind. School students believe that representatives are acting in the interest of the decision maker not in the interest of the students Representatives are often necessary to present the decision makers’ views to the union. This is sometimes confused with the representative agreeing to the decision makers’ point. Be clear regarding school students with your position towards the authorities. Good contacts with authorities can make the union focus on the wrong issues In the discussions with the decision makers the union is presented a lot of problems that the decision makers are dealing with at the moment. The union is influencing the decision makers in the same way. Power corrupts. The union is consulted in a number of issues If a head teacher (or minister of education on national level) consults the school student union in a number of issues it will be hard for the union to focus on the issues that are of the highest priority for the school students. It is important that the union dare to say “no”. All issues are not interesting. Chose a few prioritized issues and stick to them.

Example - The mobile ban, part 3 The school student union has decided to promote the problem that the current ban makes it impossible for the school students to receive and ring important calls during the teaching-free time in school, when they do not disturb anyone. The union has identified the head teacher as the decision maker on this issue and decides to meet her. The union sets up a meeting. The union selects a representative for the meeting. The representative talks with the head teacher about the background of the problem to sense his view and to show him how the union experiences the situation. The representative declares that the union shares the head teacher’s ambition of discipline and order in the lessons (this is in the interest of the big majority of the school students).


Carefully the representative presents the problem with the mobile free brakes for discussion. The representative uses the school’s own arguments against. If the school is supposed to teach the students how to manage in working life (among other things) it should teach them to shut off their mobile phones and how could this be done if the students are not allowed to bring their phones to school? The representative senses the head teacher’ pulse: neither a definite no nor a definite yes. The meeting is finished and the representative returns to the union to report.

4.4. Influence through Negotiation School student unions have a lot to win in successful negotiation. The key to influence is often found in how much a head teacher, municipality or school board chooses to listen. These power holders are often experienced, confident and skilled negotiators. It is important for the school student union representatives to rise to their level and become skilled negotiators too. Few decision makers easily get scared or more willing to help because of your being angry. To influence decision makers, more improved and sharpened methods than anger are needed. Acting under the influence of anger and emotions makes us less rational. When one has chosen to negotiate one has more to win if the counterpart is on the ship. As a result everything that makes the counterpart more positive to a common solution is good for ones cause. To understand the counterpart, his/her thoughts and signals are therefore fundamental. ANALYSIS Just like all lobbying work planning is everything. First step is to analyze the situation and make up a strategy for negotiation. You can use the following way to develop the strategy: Analyze the situation - What is the purpose of negotiation? -Can the aim be achieved without negotiating? - Who is the counterpart? -Why does the counterpart want to talk to you? -What are his/her options? What is the counterpart’s attitude towards you? -Does he/she trust you? -Do you trust the counterpart? -What needs and motifs drives him/her? -Try to see the counterpart’s view of the situation? -Define your interests clearlyThink of how you handle the counterpart’s actions if the negotiation does not go your way Think of an appropriate approach towards the counterpart

THE NEGOTIATION PHASES Once the planning is done and a meeting is set up it is time to look to real negotiation. It can be divided into three phases. - Presentation - Discussion - Giving and taking

Phase 1: Presentation All negotiations start with meeting the counterpart. From the first moment you give an impression on the counterpart and set the tone that will be dominating the rest of the negotiation. Be very aware of what you are saying and what your body language gives as an impression. Already here you have the possibility to influence the result a lot. Your counterpart is affected a lot by his emotions. it is m uch simplified if the attitude from the start is that you should reach a solution. Remember that just because you have different opinions you should not dislike each other. The reason for the meeting is either that you want to discuss something with your counterpart or vice versa. If you are called for a meeting it is important that you listen to your counterpart’s issue presentation. If the case is that you are the one taking the initiative for the meeting, it is time to start the presentation after introducing small talk. Your role is then to be the advocate or salesman, who, with strong arguments makes understood that what you propose is advantageous and sought even for your counterpart. During the presentation you should not only talk about the advantages regarding your proposal but also about why this is in the interest of the counterpart. Use the knowledge you have gained in your research and show why it is in his/her interest. Phase 2: Discussion The counterpart will probably not agree without objections when you state that your proposal is in his/her interest. Now it is time to discuss what has been proposed. All the different opinions are not settled during this phase but it is important that both parties understand why the current situation or the existing proposal is not acceptable. During this phase it is very important that you listen to what your counterpart says. Your opponent might not want to cooperate and behaves aggressively, obstructively or uses disgusting strategy. These are all made up to disturb you and put you out of balance. He/she might belittle you or your work. The key to neutralize the assaults is to recognize them and call them by their real name; once you identify the assaults you are out of danger to let them affect you. (For more details, see “One to one communication”).


Another way of treating upset counterparts is to listen to them. Let them finish their point. To listen actively to your counterpart is the cheapest way to behave. Concentrate on what your counterpart says, do not interrupt, nod understanding and communicate that you understand. Try to make your counterpart tell you what bugs her/him. People feel true satisfaction from getting to talk about their emotions, bitterness and problems. When the counterpart has spoken his/her mind the person is more constructive, rational and more focused on solving your common problem. Through listening you can also accept your counterpart’s view. To accept is not the same thing as to agree. The message is “I understand how you feel”. Your counterpart feels that you have understanding for him/her and becomes more focused on the problem. When eventual obstacles are removed the negotiation can focus on your needs, not on eventual suspicion, anger, bitterness or irritation. Another way of reaching the problem is by posing questions. Instead of pointing out all problems to your opponent you pose “problem solving questions”. When your opponent

presents his/her view you can pose questions instead of dismiss or point out the unacceptable view. ”Do you want it that way?”, “Help me understand why this is so important for you?”, “Why do you want that?”, “What would happen if we do it this way instead?” and “What are the reasons for this being so important?” Other problem solving questions might be asking for advice from your opponent. “What would you do in my position?” It is also wise not to pose yes/no questions such as “is...”, “isn’t...”, “can...”, “can’t...” Instead you should begin with “how...”, “why...”, “what...”, and etc. If you, despite all your efforts to find things that unite you and your counterpart, cannot agree on a solution you should overview your alternatives to negotiation. Leave the negotiation if you have more to win with other actions. Phase 3: Giving and taking In the best case scenario neither you nor your counterpart leave the negotiation and you leave the phase where you try to understand each other’s views, resolve eventual suspicion, irritation or anger. You now know what possible solutions there are and now it is all about being creative and finding a solution that serves both parties’ interests. To agree you need to explore solutions you have not reviewed before. If you reach a deal it is important that you declare your decision in a proper way. It is often wise to do it in print since this reduces the risk of further misunderstandings. Three points to consider while negotiating - The negotiator should view things from the counterpart’s position. Negotiating is about communication. To reach out with your message you need to understand the counterpart and what he/she is receptive for and thereafter base your presentation on this. Review his/her situation. What is his/her stand? What does he/she think of you? Why does the counterpart want to negotiate? Can the counterpart take you seriously? Remember that your counterpart is a representative of his/her interests and you of yours. Just because you do not share each other’s opinions you do not need to dislike each other. - The negotiator should see through eventual proposals and responses and makes use of the underlying needs and interests. Two parties negotiate to be able to fulfil each other’s respective needs and interests better together than on their own. The proposals you get from your counterpart initially are seldom the most interesting since they are based only on his/her needs. - The negotiator should control his/her feelings at all stages and never be provoked. Your counterpart wills provoke you. The advice for those situations is simple: “Don’t let you be provoked”. If you are provoked you let the emotions rule and often lose sight of the objective, and you start focusing on provoking him/her back and this does not bring you closer to a solution.

Other ways to influence Influence work by the school student union can be seen as a play where a meeting with the decision maker is performance on stage. This part of the play is important but without the work behind the stage it can never be a success. Successful meetings are based on preparatory work where strategic alliances are built and public opinion created.

4.5. STRATEGIC ALLIANCES To influence together with other stakeholders increases the probability of success. If you get the teachers to promote the same proposals towards the head teacher as you do you will have a much bigger possibility to reach the results. To find possible partners the school student union needs to monitor the political landscape and to identify the groups with which the union shares interests. Following stakeholders might be useful: � � � � � �

Parents Teachers Other school staff Journalists Politicians Members of the school board or other politicians.

To build strategic alliances it is important to have regular contacts with these stakeholders. Make sure you book meetings with them on regular basis just to check out the recent events and keep yourself up to date. It is very important that the one you want to cooperate with understands the school students’ interests. To keep in touch with potential partners takes a lot of time so make sure that you do not take up more connections than you could handle. Three things can be good to remember while connecting with potential partners: 1. 2.


Meet people on a regular basis. Invite them for a cup of coffee to the school student unions’ office. Bring up the same issues every time - related to the demands you have. This makes your message clear and they will really remember what is on your agenda. Prepare examples and state ments that express the school students’ situation and picture the problem precisely and clearly. Include the partners in your work. Try to make your demands to become and be presented as their demands even if they then take a big part of the credit if you succeed.

Even if you do not get them to promote your proposal you can always create fuzz. By meeting with a lot of stakeholders and talking about the same things you can make them be interested in your problems and start to discuss them on their own. If the decision maker hears more people talk about your problem he/she might be more interested in talking to you about them. See more about partners in the “Dealing with partners” section.


4.6. BUILDING PUBLIC OPINION - CAMPAIGNS INTRODUCTION - WHY CAMPAIGN? Most decision makers in public financed schools are given power by people (such as politicians) or are responsible to persons given power by people (head teachers, civil servants , and etc.). Therefore, public opinion is very important to the decision makers. The same refers to private schools since they are dependent on parents’ sending their children to the school. Students do not enrol in a private school which has bad reputation and if no funding it will be forced to close. Everybody in a society has a lot of opinions when it comes to discussing school issues, since more or less everyone has attended it. It is relatively easy to build up opinion and start debates concerning education. Campaigning is a way to try to change or influence public opinion. Campaigning could be used not only to change public opinion but also to set an item on public agenda, provided that decision makers discuss students’ view and force. Campaigns tend to become rather expensive not only when it comes to money but also when it comes to human resources, but a campaign is not always linked to spending a lot of money. Campaigning, in general, means using several different channels to spread a message and hopefully win political support for it. This could happen through manifestations, word-of-mouth, and advertising as well as by producing flyers, folders and posters. Public campaign can only reach results if it is balanced with a well planned lobbying strategy but it can be a good compliment to meet decision makers and at the same time it is often good for the student union public image. PHASE ONE: INTERNAL PHASE Before going public with your campaign it is important that the issue is clearly defined and understood within the organisation. People should be well trained and prepared. Hence it is a good idea to organise campaign training courses, where the members get a detailed overview of the topics that are tackled in the campaign. For example, if you are planning a campaign on racism in schools it is advisable to make several seminars for the members giving insight into the current situation, collecting examples and giving guidelines for the argumentation. Only if the members of the organisation stand behind the campaign they carry and feel well trained, the campaign can be strong and powerful. (For more details, see “Knowledge management”). PHASE TWO: EXTERNAL PHASE: Once you have a strong crew of well trained people it is time to address the public with your message. There should be a starting point such as manifestation, media action or panel discussion, accompanied by press release, in order to raise attention.

WHAT ISSUE SHOULD BE CONCERNED IN THE CAMPAIGN? A clear message To have any impact, your campaign should have a clear message that can be grasped easily. What is the root to the evil? Ways of action Secondly you need to offer the target individuals a way of action. How can they support your campaign and help you reach your goals? Can they sign a petition? Write to their political representatives? Wear a symbol? Enter a website to find out more? Whatever way you choose you need to involve the people in your campaign. Different levels of campaigns demand different strategies Building opinion is usually done in three arenas: the street, the café, and the media. An important part of monitoring the political landscape is done in these three arenas. The Street The street symbolizes small talk, no long discussions just general fuzz about things to which people do not necessary feel strongly emotionally attached to. What do people talk about when they meet in the corridor? How can the student union make sure that people talk about their issues? The café. At the café/cafeteria people discuss and debate. What is being said? Who is in majority? To affect the café more information than just slogans are necessary. People need to relate to the issue and feel some kind of deeper interest in it. How can the student union create this interest among the public? The media landscape What is being said not only in newspapers, TV and radio but also on blogs and net-zines? How can the union affect this? When the picture of the opinion situation is clear the union can choose to act following a strong opinion or start to work to change a “wrong” public opinion. It is important to differ between a public opinion among the people and a public opinion among the students. The union should never try to change the students’ opinion - that is the union members and the union should not be working against their members. If you, as an individual, find the student’s opinion to be wrong you can work personally to try to change it but never in the name of the union. METHODS AND TOOLS


The street can be influenced by posters, t-shirts, stickers, flyers, notebooks, street theatre, and etc. Everything that can catch the school students’ attention is interesting. A good idea is that they carry the slogan of your campaign, an image that is the logo of your campaign (very important is an eye catcher). The material should also give brief information about the content and background of your campaign.

To reach the café is harder. Deeper information is necessary for people to be able to discuss the issues more than just briefly. Spread pamphlets, set up info points in school cafeterias and organise public events like debates, seminars, panel discussions, and etc. For example if your campaign is about racism in schools you can invite people who have different opinions on the topic (politicians, people from anti-racism non-governmental organisations, and etc.) Reaching media is often based on contacts and the news value of the issue. There must be a public interest in your message for the journalists to publish. If the school student union is well known and notorious this is easier. Press releases are not the only way of addressing the media, prepare a “campaign-kit” for the media and other stakeholders, to have them informed about your campaign, its content and your goals. (For more details, see Media-handling) PHASE THREE: EVALUATION PHASE This part is often forgotten. How did we manage? What has been done? What has gone well? What could be done better the next time? There is no “perfect campaign”, but in order to reach your goals evaluation is important to value your actions and make the next campaign even better. PARTY! It is important that you celebrate your work and feel proud of what you have done. In the same way you should kick off a campaign with grandeur to motivate the activists and end it with a party to give credit to the crew members and celebrate your successes or grief your defeats.

EXAMPLE - THE MOBILE BAN, PART 4 The school student union managed to put the problem with the total ban on the agenda and moved the attention from the phones on the lessons to the phones in the cafeteria and corridors. The head teacher did not give the union a clear answer during their meeting. The union feels that the head teacher can be persuaded to change his mind but they need something more to put force behind their words. Therefore they start following actions: � The union mobilizes the school students. Among the students there is a strong opinion against the ban and a need to use their mobiles during the breaks. The union adds to the frustration by putting posters in the corridors and through making all the classes have meetings stating their support to the union in this issue. � The union finds support from the teachers. The connections with the influential teachers are used and the teachers seem receptive for the arguments. When these preparations ”behind the stage” have been done, the union representative meets with the head teacher. The head teacher says that the teachers must be consulted before such a change is made and the union agrees. The influence work towards the teachers has been successful and they are positive towards the proposal. The head teacher accepts to try to reduce the ban during a limited time and thereafter evaluate the results. The school student union has reached its aim.

4.7. POWER MANIFESTATIONS When the union feels that it is backed up by a strong public opinion it is possible to demonstrate this in different ways: -

Through representative democratic decisions e.g. all classes take stand for or against. The union can not be blamed for not being representative. Petitions Or Power manifestations, which are actions where the union shows its power, such as strikes, demonstrations, and etc.

Power manifestation is a quite risky way of inuencing decision makers. It is risky in the way that the result is never guaranteed and you risk losing your good relation with the decision maker that might decrease your possibility of future inuence. This means power manifestations might sometimes be the only possible solution although the union should be aware of what the sacriďŹ ces are. Common power manifestations are: -

Demonstrations Strikes Boycotts Actions in media Threats of using any of the alternatives above.

Power manifestations are also strongly related to the culture of the country or region where the union works. it must be taken into consideration that in some counties demostration are the only way to have visibility and start a dialogue whit institutions, while in other countries istitutions are naturally more inclined to the confrontation whit the social actor. For instance, power manifestations are a lot more common in France or Italy than in the Nordic countries. An action that would be an every day activity in Italy would be considered very provocative in Sweden or Finland. Here the union should analyse the risks and opportunities with the action. Will the decision maker really be more receptive for our argument after our manifestation? May it worsen the situation with the


decision maker even more? How will the credibility of the union be affected? RISK ANALYSIS A tip is to analyze the risks of the means used. The dots below are just examples, not reality: DIAGRAM

Lot to win Meeting w ith decision m ake Actions in Media Little to win


Low r isk


High risk

This picture is very different in different countries. In Sweden demonstrations are seldom taken seriously while in Italy you are not taken seriously unless you strike. Try to analyze your means according to the same model.

4.8. DEMONSTRATIONS INTRODUCTION One of the best-proved methods of voicing a large group’s opinion is going down on the streets, and making it heard-by the Ministry of Education, public opinion, authorities, teachers, whoever is concerned. But as it is a powerful activists’ tool, it also comes with an important amount of responsibilities, things to watch for (security primarily), and potential conflicts to manage. This chapter will guide you through the different steps of organising a demonstration, from the idea of a demonstration to the debriefing meeting after it has happened. IS IT WHAT YOU NEED-OR WHAT YOU WANT? It is often forgotten, but although demonstrating can be very powerful and effective tool to obtain what the demonstrators want, it is not always the best thing to do. Here is a checklist to see if what you want to achieve should be done through a demonstration-or not: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

You want to raise awareness on an issue, or change a situation or someone’s opinion and you have tried all other less conflict oriented methods; The issue is very precisely and clearly defined; You know who can make things change; You have good arguments to act upon that issue; and There is a general interest and support from the students’ side regarding this issue.

If all these conditions are met, then a demonstration is probably the best way to make things change. Here is an example:

In Spring 2006, the French school students went on the street to demonstrate against the CPE, a new-generation work contract against which a lot of trade-union members fought (teachers, workers, students, school students, and etc.). The French school student unions, UNL and FIDL, gathered about a million school students (5. general interest) to address the Prime Minister (3. identify stakeholder) and withdraw the law (1. demand a change of situation, and 2. precise issue), because they were convinced it would be bad for the economy and for the next generations (4. good arguments). In this case, demonstrating proved the right thing to do; as it turned out, the law was withdrawn.



You may not expect this, but the main concern while organising a demonstration is not the motivation; if you have reviewed the checklist carefully, you

know that an important number of people are motivated to fight for the issue at stake, and they should turn up at the demo very motivated indeed. The main concern while organising a demonstration is security (sometimes as in “life and death matter”). Crowds are dangerous-and the motivated even more. Do not immediately close this book, scared that you might do something so wrong as to inadvertently harm someone. With the right preparations and strategies you can make sure that your activists will be safe. Keep this in mind from the beginning until the end of planning a demonstration: security is above everything else. As the organiser of a demonstration, the School Student Union has the responsibility for everybody’s safety, the demonstrators’ and the public’s. Most of the time, authorities are there to protect both parties if things go really bad, but it should never get to that point. You should always be in control. One of the main aspects of security during a demonstration is the security service; it is a group of people, often people from your organisation motivated to help with the demonstration, and if necessary with physical capabilities, who are clearly identified during the demo (headband, special jacket, flag, and etc.), and whose main task is to “channel” the crowd to the right direction. During the demonstration, they also have many other roles such as: -

to protect the public from demonstrators (and vice-versa); sometimes, to protect the police from demonstrators (and viceversa); to provide first aid if necessary; to help emergency services (ambulances, fire brigade) go through a part of the crowd; to assist any person not feeling well in the demonstrators or in the public; and generally, to make sure that everything is going on smoothly.

It is best to have a group set up in advance of the demonstration, since this allows pre-briefing, planning of the foreseen difficult passages and room for enquiries. Regarding communication among this group, it is vital that everybody knows about most things happening at all times. Depending on the size of the security service and your financial capabilities, you can provide them with

HOW TO PLAN RIGHT: Number of demonstrators / 100 = Minimum number of people in the Security Service. Of course, this may vary according to the demonstrators’ motivation/angriness/energy, the importance of the issue the event is about, the presence of the police, and etc. In general, for a motivated but not angry crowd with normal police coverage, the ratio should be at least 1 security person per 100 demonstrators (as above). The more difficult the crowd, the lower the number (it could be even 50 for destructive crowds). For a silent demonstration, you could raise the number to 120 or above. You should also bear in mind indications from the police or the intelligence services in your country, who might inform you that groups are planning to join, or that other demonstrations are taking place on the same day. You should always try to discuss with these authorities to have them on your side rather than against you-they are a powerful ally, and it should be their job to protect you.

walkie-talkies. More on communication in the BrieďŹ ng paragraphs. Regardless how the security service is set up, two things are important to bear in mind; (1) the number of people in the security service is proportional to the number of demonstrators. It is useless to have 50 people watching for the security of 200 demonstrators (unless they are very angry), and it is unrealistic to ask 20 people to be responsible for 10,000 demonstrators. Secondly, you have to trust the vast majority of people in your security service. You have to know that you can count on the majority of them in the event of something bad happening (i.e. that they will not run away). You either know them from before so that you know who you can trust and who not, or you will have to get the feeling while building the team. If you are organising the security service in teams, make sure you mix the more experienced and trustworthy activists with less experience. They are often a good source of motivation to do the job properly. The security service is the key aspect of security, and security is the key aspect of a demonstration: not everybody ďŹ ts. Here are a few PLANNING aspects that you will have to consider during the planning phase. The message of your demonstration is the primary thing to think about. What is the problem you have selected and what is your proposed solution, and most of all how are you going to show it to the world? You have to think about the slogans, the claims that you make, and how you





Advantages - Stays on the pictures;- Motivates the crowd; - Clear message; - Immediate - Easy to spread; Official and powerful identification of the Rhythm. when coming from message (by media or the leader. public). Drawbacks

- Needs organisation - Hard to be heard in - Requires silence in in advance. the beginning; - Has the crowd; - Formal to be very clear and setting. short for slogans, very easy to remember for a song. What you - Fabric; - Spray paint; - A good voice - A microphone. need - Maybe wooden sticks (loudhailers help); and nails (to stick in Creativity for the the air). slogans/songs. How to do it - Well before the - Once someone has a - Either at the demo sets off, lay slogan/song ready to beginning or at the down a band of fabric shout/sing, simply go end of the demo; (2 metres high and as ahead on your own. If Stand out clearly wide as you want); - the crowd "adopts" it, from the crowd (for Paint your message it will start spreading pictures and (slogan) on it; - Let dry,in the near walkers of identification of meanwhile fix at the the first leader); - Speak very top of wooden sticks shouter/singer, and loudly, prefer with nails, or fix propagate. Never microphones; sticks horizontally underestimate the Shyness goes away by down the banner to motivation given by a itself. hold it straight while crowd walking in the front; - shouting/singing Remember to cut together. holes in the banner so that the wind does not catch it like a sail.


- Have the messages/slogans ready; - Have the materials bought beforehand (at the nearest store).

Number of people

- 2-3 to make; - 2-3 to - As many as possible; 1 hold if in the air; - 5- - 1 is enough to start. 15 to hold if at waist in front of the crowd. - Excellent for the - Not long-lasting, - Great to media, media (stays on excellent for the crowd and public. pictures) and the public and the public, visual, concise.demonstrators, but poor for the media.


- Mostly spontaneous, - Knowing in advance but thinking about it what to say, and beforehand helps on when to do it. the day.

THE SCALE OF YOUR ACTION If you are fighting a national issue, it can be beneficial to synchronise demonstrations in different cities on the same day. The more synchronised (date, and even time), the more motivating for the demonstrators to know that hundreds or thousands of other people are marching as well. If it is a local action, instead of having one single demonstration departing from one meeting point you can organise smaller crowd departures from schools, and converging together in the centre-or in front of the Ministry of Education. Once again, it is very powerful to show demonstrators they are not alone in their struggle. In some countries, you need to declare a public event to the local authorities before it takes place. This will ensure that the authorities are on your side, and that it is safe for you to demonstrate at such time and place. It is essential to have at least one planning meeting before the demonstration. Who is going there? All the concerned parties: you, other people from the Union with responsibilities during the event, the police, the local intelligence services, traffic controllers, representatives from the mayor’s office, from the public transport company, and etc. It is rare to see all of them at these meetings, but it is a good move to invite them, showing that you would like to consider all opinions; when, on the day of the demonstration any of them is not happy about something, you can always answer that you have invited them to plan it. Besides, you do not have all equal opinions; most of the authorities are there to ensure your freedom of gathering and expressing one’s opinion, or to protect you. Last but not least, security is a key; and that is mostly what demonstration planning is about. What route is the demonstration going to take? What to do if there is an accident on the route before or during the demonstration? What are the main evacuation streets? How to ensure a good communication between

the demonstration leader and authorities? and etc. DISABLED PEOPLE Organise a “safe square” in front of the march, just behind the first banner or the first line of people. There must be one member of security services at each corner of the square making sure that people with special needs are able to take part in the demo without getting harmed. PRE-COMMUNICATION COMMUNICATING WITH THE MEDIA Make press releases early but not too early, i.e. usually around one week in advance if you can, otherwise anytime before the D-day. Do not forget to invite the journalists to join the demonstration, tell them who the main contact persons are, where they will be, how to contact them, and give them a brief outline of the march route. Crucial information are what (a demonstration), where and when (date, time and place of meeting), and why (what is it for/against?); that is all the media want to know. NEVER ANNOUNCE NUMBERS FOR A DEMONSTRATION BEFORE IT HAS OCCURRED Of course it could be positive if the actual turn-up is higher than your expectations, but it is too risky to tempt, since announcing an important number of demonstrators and getting a low turn-up is very negative for the image of your Union. COMMUNICATING WITH SCHOOL STUDENTS / FUTURE DEMONSTRATORS Spread the word as early as possible. Print out leaflets, organise their diffusion, start talking about it in your schools and to friends in different schools, encourage spreading the word mouth-to-ear, via SMS, e-mails or MSN, on chats and forums, and etc. Be where the future demonstrators are! Try to make the future demonstration leaders hang out with potential demonstrators as much as possible, as it will help identify the leaders, create a positive public image of being with the people and being one of them. It is materially impossible to do this, except for a full-time job. Create a team whose job will be not only to spread the leaflets, but also to talk to the school students, to convince them to come to the event and bringing their friends, and explain why it all happens. When communicating with to-be demonstrators, be it on the leaflets, in faceto-face communication, on MSN, on a chat, an internet forum, over the phone, and etc., you must mention TMM: (a) what is the TOPIC, (b) why it MATTERS to them, (c) date/time/place of the MEETING. Without that essential core, people are very unlikely to turn up at the meeting point on the D-day. Last but not least, when communicating with future demonstrators they have to be motivated by who they listen to, and that is… you. Look motivated, energetic, do not fake it too hard but show that it does matter for at least one person, and that those demonstrations do not mean only jumping classes. Briefing (SO [brief on emergency, identify F-aiders, how to lead {delegation}, examples, other references], authorities, journalists, banner holders, front square, disabled)


The briefing right before a demonstration is often exciting and stressful, and rightly so: in an orcheWhen you ask for such authorisations, the police will check whether an angry mob of skinheads is likely to be there as well on the day, and for your protection they might not authorise the demonstration. In this case, it is wise to follow their advice

stra, musicians tuning their instruments just before a concert are feeling the sameall the rest will mainly depend on that briefing, where people are fine-tuning their roles and how it is going to happen. If everybody has to be focused at some point, that is the right moment. BRIEFING THE AUTHORITIES (IF THEY ARE WITH YOU) Meet the leaders only and define your strategy together. Things to mention: Is it still okay to take the planned route? If not, what alternative route is proposed? Are there any other issues arising from their side? Tell them how you feel the demonstrators, whether they are likely to be agitated , define together the police action if it is possible (i.e. are they going to be very visible, or just in the cars by the side?), and try to tune your violins together where it is possible. Remember: make allies! YOUR SECURITY SERVICE If the security officers already know how to deal with a crowd, it is perfect. If not, a good advice to give is (1) be firm and gentle at the same time (“An iron hand in a velvet glove”, French say), and (2) it is just a job. Do not get upset if someone gets mad, do not encourage them to take a step backwards when you feel it is above your competences (the police should be at hand if needed). Things to mention: What are the risky passages on the route? Where will it be required to have a line of security officers guiding the crowd in a street? Who is taking care of closing the streets ahead of the march, the security services or the police? Is there the need for a new emergency strategy, or has it already been defined? Are they going to work in teams? If yes, identify the team leaders. Swap phone numbers or set-up walkie-talkies together and test them at the briefing (not during the demo). Identify the people with first-aid qualifications. Talk about a simple sign language that everybody understands for making lines and leading the crowd in a specific direction, as shouting over the crowd will be impossible. Lastly, if you do not have any experience in leading security services you should ask more experienced organisations, i.e. trade unions or teacher unions, to come and help you to brief the security. BRIEFING THE SOUND-SYSTEM PEOPLE (IF PRESENT) If you have a sound system to play music during the march (either fixed, mounted on wheels or on a vehicle), have a quick briefing with the person BRIEFING ANYONE DRIVING A VEHICLE IN THE MARCH If you have cars or small trucks in the march, brief with the drivers beforehand. Things to mention: whose instructions to follow, where to go in advance, how slowly to drive (never more than 5 km/h while in the march; the average walking speed of a crowd is 3-4 km/h, and a vehicle in a crowd can be very dangerous). Try to make sure that someone with a driving licence is always nearby, in case something happens to the first driver. BRIEFING THE FRONT MARCHERS The people who will hold the main banner if there is one, or who will form the first line of walkers. They are important to brief, as the crowd will be following them. A good advice is to walk around twice more slowly than normal. They have to keep their walking pace in mind constantly, or better, they can follow one or two of the security service members who walk carefully slow in the front. Lastly, the front marchers have to be very motivated and inclined to shout or sing, as they will be the ones in the media.

BRIEFING JOURNALISTS AND MEDIA REPORTERS They usually do not need to be briefed; they know their job of being there without getting too much in the way. It is important to tell them where they will be able to find you during the march for an interview. YOURSELF If you declared the event and got an official authorisation, have the original with you to show the present authorities that it is officially accepted. Know by heart who are the main contact people for the security and authorities, quikkly review the route, have a few slogans ready, and do not forget your business cards if you have some. Read that well: everything is going to be all right. If the planning and the briefing went good, there is no reason it should turn into a catastrophe; 13-year-olds have already led thousand-people demonstrations, so there is no reason you would not manage. Last but not least, do not forget how happy you will be during the demonstration if you know in advance where the nearest public toilets are! Checklist (essentials, to add) Before setting off, have this list at hand (along with your own additions). Unless all the conditions are met, you must not start.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

The crowd is mostly ready, and pointing towards the right direction; The security service members are clearly identifiable by the demon strators, the public, among themselves and by you; The security service teams/members are where they should be, and ready to set off; The first streets are closed or the road traffic is interrupted; and The authorities are giving the “Go!” (if they are with you).

Once you have checked all this plus any additions you might have, start marching! But make sure you will be followed: make a sign to the first security service members or the front marchers, sound a horn, turn on the sound system, shout “LET’S GO!” in a loudhailer (for maximum effect, you should translate this into your own language, or very few people will follow)… Important note: at the beginning, it is important that the front of the demonstration (front marchers or first security service members) walks extremely slowly, and gradually increases the speed as everybody is walking (otherwise it will create gaps in the march). During the demo If both the planning and the briefing went well, you should not have much to do during the demonstration itself, except starting shouts and sings, watching the pace of the march, speaking to journalists and continuously exchanging information with the authorities on how it is going. During the march, do not forget to count the demonstrators, or delegate this task to someone you trust. It is mainly about getting a general feeling, which becomes easy once you have organised many demonstrations.


METHOD FOR CROWD ESTIMATION: The counter should stand by the side of the road at the front of the march with a watch or a timer, write down the time they start (Time 1), and count how many people are passing for 30 seconds (Passers). After that, the counter should stay where they are until the end of the march passes, and write down at what time it passes in front of them (Time 2).Number of people in the demonstration = (Time 2 - Time 1) x Passers x 2 Ex: Jovana starts counting at the front of the parade at 14:30, counts 85 people passing in front of her in 30 seconds, and sees the end of the march in front of her at 15:15.Number of people in the demonstration = (Time 2 - Time 1) x Passers x 2 = (15:15 - 14:30) x 85 x 2 = 45 x 85 x 2 = 7,650 people (approximately) (Why don’t we learn this in Mathematics classes?)

During a demonstration, two main kinds of unforeseen situation can arise: conflicts and catastrophes (although less likely). In the case of conflicts, try to delay as much as possible. Can it be postponed to after the demonstration has ended? If yes, try to calm the parties down. Otherwise, since the whole demonstration is under your responsibility, you are the authority to be referred to in case of conflict. Try to get a member of the security service to replace you while you go aside and try to solve the conflict. In case of a catastrophe (a riot, a sudden fire, and etc.), do not try to control the situation, in most cases it will prove impossible (by definition, if it is catastrophic you cannot control it). Make sure you are safe. Try to stay calm yourself, along with the security service; everybody else will be looking at you and the security people to adopt the same attitude, or at least be reassured by an apparent self-control. Always with the security team, encourage both the public and the marchers to leave the place calmly, pointing them in the directions you already spotted in case of emergency. If the police or emergency services are giving opposite orders, always listen to the professionals. They should quickly tackle the situation themselves. It is important to mention that such

events very, very rarely happen, if at all. Do not forget to enjoy yourself while you lead a crowd and fight for your causes, it is a great, empowering feeling. DISPERSAL Once the demonstration has finished its route, you might want to make a last statement while everybody is still present and empowered by the demonstration. Afterwards, you have the responsibility of dispersing the crowd, i.e. make sure that they are not staying all together in the same place, or continue towards somewhere else. If you had to ask for an authorisation for the event, it remains under your responsibility until you clearly and loudly announced it is over (in a loudhailer, for example). Do not forget to thank the participants for coming, or to make a last statement. Have the security team encourage the demonstrators to leave, disperse in smaller groups, go and get a coffee or a beer in a nearby bar, and etc. In the event of violent people continuing their actions afterwards, it becomes the police job. You have to show very available for the media at this moment, as it is the time they will ask you to estimate number of participants, if you think it was a success, and etc. POST-COMMUNICATION Immediately after the demonstration ended, a debriefing with the principal stakeholders will take place. In order to see what went well, what did not, what could have been better, and etc. Always be constructive, and try to document it as much as possible; this will be incredibly useful for next demonstration organisers, whether a month or a year afterwards. The golden rule in post-communication is to always be constructive. In the best case, an immediate response from the stakeholder you addressed (the Minister of Education, the government, a union, and etc.) will confirm that your action made them change their mind, and there is no effort to do in order to present the action as a constructive one. If there is a negative answer-or even no answer at all-, your action still has allowed all the demonstrators to show their agreement and their motivation to make things change, and can hardly remain unheard, or will lead to another action on the same topic. There is always an opportunity to be constructive and it is especially important in front of the media and important stakeholders: your action had a purpose. The demonstration was a way for you to show your strengths and to make the decision maker aware of your vast support. Now you should use this to your advantage. VICTORY! Hopefully, a demonstration will be topped up by a victory. Celebrate adequately, do not forget to thank everybody who played a part, and remember them for the next demonstration



INTRODUCTION “Many hands make light work, don’t they? They certainly can - working in partnership with other organisations can help you to achieve more than you ever could alone. But it is important not to set up a partnership without careful consideration - after all; you do not want too many cooks to spoil the broth.” - From “Volunteering England, Making consortia work” The reasons to form partnerships can be many. A school student union can virtually have partners in any area where they find it useful. The union may form a partnership with the parents’ association to attain certain political goals, work with a company to get cheaper and better vending machines in the school or work together with the media to get a column on regular basis in the local newspaper. If you are aware of some risks, you may profit a lot from a good partnership. Below some guidelines concerning how to deal with partners are treated. CONDITIONS FOR PARTNERSHIPS Do you have the resources? Establishing a partnership can be very demanding since badly managed partnerships easily damages your reputation and the possibility of future partnerships. If you have come to the conclusion that you are able to mobilize these resources there are other conditions that need to be met. Define the benefits for both partners and in what way they contribute to the common objective A partnership is based on both parties contributing to the common objective. What are you trying to attain by entering this partnership? Set up a list of all prerequisites and all the work should attain this objective. Then you divide them up into two gearwheels. One gearwheel contains all the things you give into the partnership and the other describes what your partner has to bring along. In this way you make clear what both parties gain from the partnership. Always limit a partnership to a certain time after which you evaluate the partnership. Are you attaining what you set up to attain? Are you spending as much resources as planned? HOW TO FIND A PARTNER As said earlier; there must be positive benefits for both parties in the partnership. It is important not only to make it clear what the School Student Union gets from this partn ership but also what the other party gets out of it. You have to be aware of your potential as a school student union. Your biggest capital is most likely your members. Young people is a very attractive group to reach for many organisations, companies and other interest groups and who has

a better network of young people than a school student union. Each organisation which is producing something for school students, has students as target-sales-group, distributes something to students, has the students as potential voters or works with students in anyway, may be a potential partner of the school student union. Kinds of partnership (difference partner / sponsor) There is not really a difference between a partner and a sponsor. A sponsor is the kind of partner, who just finances something without affecting the content of the work or even working together with you. However, in each partnership and therefore in sponsoring, each partner has an equal value of input and output. Partnerships are indicated wherever you reach a goal easier with a partner (For more details, see “Tips for partnerships”). So you may have simple advertising partnerships where the partner finances a workshop or a publication and places advertisement or you may have a partnership to reach a political goal to help finance a campaign and bundle forces together. Other partnerships can be with a school to start a school attempt with a new system or with the student organisations in your country to have more continuity in the work and in many other parts of daily union life. Tips for partnerships -

Always be clear and honest about your input and your goals


Focus on the aims of the partnership, Partnerships as such are worthless; it is what they attain that is the important part. There is a big risk that the student union continues partnerships from which they do not benefit just out of habit.


Look for a contact person with whom you may build up an ambiance of confidence. When you are about to announce something; make sure, your partners know it first! (But always be careful with sensitive information).


The first meeting is very important Train the situation in a simulation where someone plays a really suspicious and negative counterpart.


If you find it necessary do not hesitate to write a contract over your and your partner’s obligations. This may avoid a lot of possible misunderstandings of what you expect from your partners and vice versa.

In Sweden exist several regional school student unions which are partners to the national organisation EOS. The regional partners promote national events and accept some national strategies for promoting school student organisations, while the national organisation provides administrative and financial support to the regions. The EOS obligations towards the regional organisations and vice versa are regulated through contracts that are renegotiated every year to fit




INTRODUCTION “Internal efficient communication seminar”; “Regional school student conference”; “Study human rights education session”; “European School Student Convention”. All these events take place at very different scales, and yet they all follow the same principle: the ultimate aim of an event is always to extend knowledge. There are many ways to do it of course; it ranges from sharing the knowledge amongst participants to transmitting an expert’s, or a team’s, or an organisation’s knowledge about something to the participants, or even passing the participants’ knowledge on to larger institutions. This chapter aims at answering the most basic questions, such as: Which kind of event you should organise? How to constitute an efficient team? And who to trust as an expert? and etc as well as more elaborate questions, e.g. on the social climate of an event, financial reporting and coffee breaks. It does not give general knowledge of event management in general (many good books will guide you there), but rather about event planning for school student unions.

OVERVIEW The process of organising an event by school student unions can be divided into 4 stages: 1.

2. 3. 4.

BEFORE THE PLANNING Before going into planning an event, it is necessary to think about the general event objectives, the financial & material resources available, the scale of the event, constituting a team, and etc. PLANNING Once the nature of the event is defined, the team gets to work together to further define its shape and its content. DURING THE EVENT While the event is running, the team has to work hard to keep the pieces together. FOLLOW-UP After the event took place, ensuring a sound follow-up and reporting is what will make it meaningful and profitable for future events.

BEFORE-BEFORE Different kinds of events A wide spectrum of events exists, and all of them are not adapted to every situation. They can be defined by a set of characteristics: Purpose As written above, events are always about extending knowledge. But whose? Absolutely anything is inpossible. The most common stakeholders in the NGO field are individuals (public members, activists, stakeholders, students…),

experts, organisations (like a SSU) and institutions. Any of them can pass their knowledge to someone else CORE/INTERNAL/EXTERNAL Core events gather people working strictly within the organisation (e.g. executive committee meeting); internal events are for members of your organisation, perhaps also everyday partners and stakeholders (e.g. general assembly, seminar); external events are open to the public, being a specific part of the public (e.g. school students), or all of that. LENGTH AND INVOLVEMENT The length of an event is its duration. It can be as short as half a day (less than this would rather resemble a meeting than an event, see chapter on meetings), and as long as… pretty much indefinite, but it is rare to come across events longer than a dozen days in the NGO field. The involvement required of the participants is how long they will be required to be active: only two hours out of a half-a-day event, eight hours per day for a one week-event… FINAL BENEFICIARIES In the very end, who will benefit from the event or its follow-up? Most of the time it will be students themselves, but it could also be an institution that gained knowledge on a certain situation and can then act on it, or teachers who have been trained to use participatory methods, and etc. In the end, it should always benefit most of the groups in the educational system (the students / the teaching staff / the administrative staff / the institution / the parents), or it will be unlikely to have a long-term positive effect. It is important never to lose focus on the final beneficiaries throughout the whole organisation process, as everything should be aimed at this final objective. RESOURCES The resources we are able to mobilize will be conditioning our capacities and therefore the whole characteristics of the event. This requires that we think of both what we have and what we need, taking into account different kinds of resources: o Material resources, including meeting facilities, documentation, hosting for participants, food, and etc. o Financial resources. Of most importance here it will be some money that our SSU might have saved, and in particular the sponsorships we have, including regular subventions and punctual financial collaborations with public administrations, private companies and/or foundations, trade unions, NGOs, and etc. o Human resources, which is maybe the most difficult to build but also the most enriching for an event. This is why human resources must be carefully managed. We can include here experts who would come to your events, staff who would be working for practical issues such as meals, the preparatory team, and eventually the participants, as they will be the main human resource for the outcome of the event.


BEFORE All the planning of an event (whichever characteristics it has) requires quite a lot of work. In fact, there is no magic formula that you can apply when organising any event, as it varies a lot depending on its different characteristics as defined above. However, here are some tips that we hope are useful for you when preparing an event. Preparatory teams. The preparation of an event usually means a huge amount of work, both content-wise and the practical issues. That is why normally it is very useful to build up one or several teams that will be in charge of the process both before and during the event. The reason for creating several (normally two) teams is that of separating the work concerning practical matters (transportation, hosting, meals, and etc.) and the work concerning the content of the event. These preparatory teams should be built up in due advance so there is enough time for the preparation, and there should also special attention be paid to the good social atmosphere within them as the whole event will be depending on their work. Preparatory meetings. Besides many existing and useful ways for making decisions concerning the event preparation (phone calls, mailing lists, and informal meetings) it is normally useful to configure one or several formal preparatory meetings. The length and characteristics of these meetings will be different in each occasion. However, every preparatory meeting should have some fixed goals and state a clear task division on the basis of which every one can work further on their own, once the meeting is over. It is very useful to write this task division, as this can help eventual conflicts or mistakes among the members of the preparatory team(s). Last, but not least, these preparatory meetings can be used also for building a cooperative, motivating and inclusive social atmosphere that can maximize the team’s performance. Planning. The planning of an event should not be either too wide nor too strict: an equilibrium has to be found on a comprehensive planning that is at the same time flexible enough for facing possible -and probable- changes and difficulties during the development of the event. Taking into account your aims for organizing the event, you should build, step by step, the different contents it will have: from the most general to the most precise. It can be useful to think, when preparing long events, of different phases that you would like the event to have (awareness-raising, training or stating a position for the organisation are just some examples). Besides, you should not think only on what you want to tackle during the event, but also how. That is to say, the methodology or the pedagogy of the activity. There are many different models, going from a conference where an expert just gives an income to the participants, to a participatory workshop where the outcome will be built up almost 100% by the participants, with the help of a facilitator. In big events it is recommendable to combine more and less participatory pedagogies. Once the content and the methodology are clear, you should plan which materials you will need, such as paper, flipcharts, a laptop or a projector. You should think of how much and when you will need it. Setting an agenda. It is necessary, both for the work of the people in charge of the activity and for the participants, to set a written agenda. This agenda can be configured as a timetable, and even if you seek for its

observance as much as possible, you should not be afraid to modify it in case of need. There will always be difficulties when developing an event (e.g. an expert who could not come, a projector that was not finally available) and you should be flexible and prepared enough for adapting yourselves to new conditions. The agenda should clearly state when different activities are planned (including informal activities such as farewell party) starting and finishing, and which times are reserved for meals and free time.

Experts. It can be sometimes interesting to invite some external experts to take part in your events. By expert we mean a person who has especially useful experience in a specific field related to our working areas. In case you want to count on one or several experts, you will have to decide whom and for what. For choosing the person, you can rely on different networks (your own one, the ones of other NGOs you have been working with, the ones of local/regional/national youth councils, and etc.). You should take into account the expert’s field of work: it can be interesting to check if she/he has experience in the students/education area and therefore knows what kind of perspective he/she is asked to have during the activity. Besides, you should also check his/her ability to fit into the kind of activity you would like that person to intervene in: if you want to contact an expert for facilitating a workshop you should check this person has experience with participatory methodology, otherwise your workshop might become a one-way conference. Furthermore, you should establish some communication with the expert before the event takes place, trying to transmit him/her what your expectations are, giving him/her an update on your organisation’s work if necessary, and also hearing about what the expert is planning to do. Finally, experts are a good resource to take advantage of, but you should try to find equilibrium between external and internal incomes from your own organisation and the participants of the event.

Planning the informal dimension. An event is not just made out of activities. It also includes a whole set of informal spaces that you should also take into account when planning an event. Your responsibility for making the event successful includes a responsibility towards the participants as a group of individuals, with a human dimension that you must not neglect. The social atmosphere is of extreme importance for the success of an event, especially when it is a long one. You should plan creating spaces for encouraging that this positive social climate comes up. Presentation games, ice-breakers, games and leisure times are some examples. Besides, you should also define a policy concerning drugs (tobacco, alcohol, and etc.) consummation during the event, taking into account pros and cons, the participant profiles, and the requirements of the facilities where the event will take place.


DURING The work necessary for making an event succeed is not precisely over once it has started and the preparation phase is over. On the contrary, during its development you will be required to put all your efforts on every aspect of the event, to make sure everything is working fine and specially to react when it is not. Here are some of the things that should be done during an event is taking place. REPORTING It is crucially important; at the end of the event, what is left of it will be the report, and not much else, except the follow-up undertaken by both the organiser and the participants. It is the log of the event, from its preparation to its follow-up, and encompasses everything in between: how such session went, what was the participants’, the experts’ and the team’s feedback, analysis of the problems that arose within the team or generally during the event, difficulties faced and their solutions, and etc. Not only will it show how the event went, but also give information to sponsors that their money was used wisely, and to future event organisers to avoid repeating mistakes. Here is a quick checklist of things that must be found in a report: -

Purpose and objectives of the event, and analysis of whether these objectives have been reached;


Highlights of what went particularly well and what went particularly wrong;


Feedback from the participants;

If you have sufficient human resources, it is a good idea to have an official rapporteur during the event; that way, you are not to worry about whether someone is currently reporting what is happening. In the case of multiple things going on at the same time, e.g. workshops or working groups, the participants can be asked to nominate a group of rapporteur or note-taker, who will then pass their notes to the general rapporteur. TEAM MANAGEMENT During the whole development of the event it is very important to keep an eye on the team as such. You will be working at a quite intense rhythm and it is important that all the members of the team(s) feel comfortable with the work and that you keep yourself always coordinated and efficient. Also, you must be aware that it is possible that conflicts will come up out of the fact of working together so intensively. For managing all this, the most important tool is communication. It is very important that you keep a permanent flow of communication among all of you, and that you share your feelings and thoughts about how things are developed. It is important that you keep a “team feeling” (that has to be developed during the preparation): you are all responsible for the final outcome of the event, and therefore you must all keep an eye on the whole. TEAM TASK DIVISION At the same time, everybody should not be in charge of everything. It is important that you keep a task division for the days during which the event will take place, for tasks such as presenting a workshop, evaluating a conference, managing the eventual reimbursements to participants, and etc. This way, everybody

will feel self-confident with his/her own assignments and responsibilities, and the different activities will take place more efficiently. TEAM MEETINGS During the development of the event you will be for sure (in particular if it is a long event) forced to have one or more team meetings. These meetings can take place either in an informal or in a formal way, even if the latter is normally preferable. The purposes of these meetings can be various: evaluating some or all of the activities of the day, taking some decisions concerning eventual changes in the planned agenda, preparing some activity that was not (or could not be) prepared during the preparatory meetings, are some of the many possibilities. However, also team members deserve (and need) some time for themselves, for leisure or for hanging around with the participants. That is why you should plan having some free time and restricting the meetings for strictly necessary issues.


One usually says that the first 80 % of the work takes 20 % of the time while the last 20 % of the work takes 80 % of the time. While working on a project one needs to recognise that the details can be incredibly time consuming. Therefore it is important to see the general big lines before going in to details to make sure that the basic needs are fulfilled. EVALUATION When organizing quite long events (from two or three days on) it is very interesting to plan some kind of space for evaluating the event and its different activities. This will allow you to know what the things that are not working are, and what are the things that do work (and this is as important as the first thing). Evaluation will allow you, therefore, to adapt the upcoming activities of the event to the concrete conditions you find and to the participants’ demands: the event as planned should not be conceived as something sacred but as something in permanent evolution and (participative) construction. From the evaluation made by the participants you can get ideas for improving practical matters, you can know how useful/useless was a specific activity that took place, you can become aware of a new need that you have not thought about, and etc. For putting evaluation into practice there are very different techniques, here you have a few ideas that are not exclusive; on the contrary, they can be fruitfully combined: Evaluation groups. This is maybe the most interactive and participatory technique for evaluation. It consists of dividing the participants into small groups that would evaluate, with a certain frequency (e.g. daily) the activities and the general features of the event. This would be done with a member of the team who would work as a facilitator. . The mailbox. You can place a box in a visible location where participants can anonymously introduce pieces of paper with thoughts about the event such as critics (both positive and negative), ideas or just reflections. Participants should be encouraged to “mail” the team on everything they feel concerned about. This method has the advantage of allowing completely anonymous comments.


The wallpaper. You can also place a big piece of paper on one of the walls of the facilities where you can write different areas for evaluation (e.g. each activity, food, hosting, materials, and etc.), and leave some pens available. Participants will be this way able to write any comments at any time they want, and react to other people’s comments. The interactivity among participants is the main advantage of this evaluation method.

Once the event is about to finish, there should always be a final evaluation. This evaluation can be done in several manners that, once again, can be combined. The combination of several methods is actually quite recommendable. Apart from the methods listed above, the following can be used: The questionnaire. You can create a questionnaire to be filled in by the participants. Normally it should include both open questions (with some lines to be filled in) and closed questions (e.g. yes/no, 1-5). Open questions have the advantage of offering a lot of information from the participants’ opinion. Closed questions have the advantage of enabling qualitative analyses of the data you get. This means that, with questions of the type “answer yes or no” or “qualify from 0 to 5” you can get objective data with which you can create graphs and statistics (with the help of basic software such as OpenOffice. org Calc or other spreadsheets software). THE EVALUATION TREE. Participants are supposed to colour (or just to mark) the one they feel identified with (in relation to the event) and to explain why. (A template version can be found in the Annex) The hand. Participants are supposed to draw their own hand on a paper and to write different things in each of the fingers: the things they liked the most in the thumb, the things they would like to point out in the index, things they did not like in the middle finger, the commitments (for themselves or for their association/student council/student union) that came out of the event in the ring finger and how the event contributed to your work in the little finger.

TAKING CARE OF THE EXPERTS During the event you should pay attention to the experts and other people who are not from your SSU (e.g. representatives invited from other NGOs or educational stakeholders), making sure they have everything they need (especially hosting), depending on your previous agreements. Moreover, you should try to get some time for making an informal/formal evaluation of their contribution with them, and for getting some of their impressions on the event and on your SSU. Basically, it is a matter of networking: try to know as well as you can other stakeholders on the field you are working on, and try to keep a good relation with them -you never know when

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you will need them again! TAKING CARE OF THE PARTICIPANTS You should also keep an eye on the social climate, being aware of the consequences it may have on the outcome of the event. You should encourage that participants get to know each other and that a good working atmosphere is set. Normally it is just a matter of ice-breaking and opening some spaces for social interaction so the participants can feel their commonalities and can feel as taking part in the same project. However, you should keep an eye on the whole group and make sure that the group is configured as inclusive and nondiscriminatory. AFTER Yes, we are afraid there is work to do also after an event is over. Actually, it is a crucial phase of the work, both for the outcome of the event you were preparing so hard, and for the sake of eventual further events. TEAM DEBRIEFING The team should take some time (not too long) after the event for debriefing the whole event and their work as a team. This will ensure that future events and collective work will be even better. FOLLOW-UP You should design some way(s) for making a follow-up of the outcomes of your event. For instance, if you have organised a training seminar, you should check how this knowledge that you have passed is implemented by the participants. This should be designed through objective indicators, so you can evaluate the actual outcome of the event. You can configure this indicators looking at the objectives that were defined before the event was planned. After some time, you can check these indicators through different ways (e-mails, postal questionnaires, phone calls, and etc.). All this will make you aware of the importance of your work and will let you and your sponsors see to what extent it was a fruitful event. REPORT Being normally a condition established by the eventual sponsors of your events, it is always useful to write a final report on the event, including the previous context of the event, its purpose, reports of the different activities, evaluations from participants, experts and team, conclusions and acknowledgements. Moreover, the report should include a financial report on the expenses that you incurred when preparing and/or realizing the event.




INTRODUCTION So you are feeling inspired, you have ideas and you want to have some action! But more likely than not, positive change is going to be more achievable if there is a group of you. So for whatever reason it may be, idea sharing, organisation, delegation of tasks, decision-making or structure, meetings are going to help you achieve your objectives and no doubt you would like them to be as productive as possible. Therefore this chapter is going to address the reasons for having meetings at all, who should be involved in them, when and where they should be held and what will be needed. SO WHY ARE MEETINGS USEFUL? Firstly, identifying the need and reason for a meeting is great, because it can provide purpose and structure. Bearing your ultimate goal in mind will prevent pointless meetings from being arranged. Some of the following are reasons that may help you outline the purpose of meetings: -

Group communication, updating, debriefing or evaluation on what has been going on since the last meeting; Planning - maybe an event, project or action; Decision-making - how to take things forward or executive and financial decisions about the group or organisation; Information sharing to learn from each other and to share what you know; Briefing - letting people know what they need to do, clarifying any questions; Debriefing - after an event or action, feeding back to one another on how it went; Getting to know each other - new groups can have the opportunity to do this in order to work the best they can as a team; Motivation.

Most important though, meetings are a bridge concerning what members are doing in between. It is not the idea that people do their actual work at meetings - this should be done during the intervals of seeing others. If not, progress will be slow and not much achieved. It is important that groups avoid doing this and remain motivated between meeting each other.

WHO NEEDS TO ATTEND THESE MEETINGS? When planning and arranging a meeting, it is useful to think about who exactly the meeting is for and therefore who should attend. Ask yourself, ‘Who is concerned or involved in the meeting topics of discussion or activity?’, ‘Will everyone there have a participatory role or responsibility?’ Sometimes outside contributors might be welcome to the meeting to fill in particular gaps. Thinking about who is invited and who is not, can prevent people from being missed out! Group sizes also need to be taken into consideration - a big group could mean lots of good ideas, but it could also mean that people have less of a say and more disagreement! WHEN TO HOLD MEETINGS Striking the right balance for timings of meetings is not always easy. Obviously you want to get as many of the necessary people to the meeting as possible, otherwise people will miss out. Bearing in mind the dynamics of the group and what their needs are will help structure a date. For example, identify until how late you can hold the meetings, how far people will have to travel, whether you would benefit from a weekend long meeting and any particular dates that need to be avoided such as exam time. Naturally your ultimate decision will vary according to school meetings or national or international meetings. Either the meeting dates can be decided as a group by gathering a list of dates which people can make or by offering a pre-arranged list of meeting dates for the year, asking people to keep those future dates free. Using online spaces such as www.doodle.ch can be ideal for such planning. Regularity of meetings should also be thought about - meeting too frequently could make meetings unproductive where people may not have much to say. Not enough regular meetings could mean the group loses touch and people cannot touch base and feel inspired by one another. But when drawing closer to something such as an event you are planning, more intense meetings may be necessary for a brief period of time. Informing people about the meeting date as early as possible is essential. The earlier the better and therefore the more people free to attend! Often e-mail reminders are great to ensure that people do not forget about the meeting. It is good also to think about how to let people know when the meeting is taking place - do people take more notice of e-mail messages? Or letters? Or Telephone calls? Or text messages? Adverts in the local media, or leaflets (if it is a public meeting)?


WHAT OR HOW IS BEST TO RUN YOUR MEETINGS? There is no set way of running a meeting, and often it is best to find a method that you are most comfortable with. However, there are some more common ways to run a meeting and helpful tips that may produce your meetings more efficient. First of all and most important, you need to have an agenda! An agenda will give you structure to your meeting - laying out who is doing what and it will ensure your meeting runs on schedule. Normally, whoever is chairing the meeting, the chairperson, natural leader, or facilitator will put this together - possibly by receiving agenda items from the group members that need to be brought up in the meeting. Find the template of an agenda in the back of this Manual! Agendas should be sent out to those who are attending the meeting beforehand so that people can prepare. It also makes your group more democratic, as those who do not see the agenda prior to the meeting are disadvantaged compared to those who will have seen it beforehand if they have been preparing for it. It makes sense to spread any necessary tasks prior to the meeting. For example, decide who needs to bring what documents and how many copies of each. Think about any information you might need to research in advance to share with the group in order to make it more effective. Is there someone you need to communicate with beforehand? And so on… Minutes from the last meeting need to be circulated before the meeting so that people can follow up their tasks that they may have agreed to do and also so that people can remind themselves on what was discussed or decided at the previous meeting. Minutes are also essential for people who have been unable to attend a meeting so that they can keep themselves updated (For more details, see “Taking minutes”). It is important to document regularly what happened in the meeting with minutes or notes for efficiency and to prevent dispute over what was said, after the meeting. Therefore, it might be ideal to elect someone who is always responsible for this or rotate the role to spread the responsibility. Also, during the meeting, you need to check the validity of the decisions. Most groups will have a constitution or a code of conduct stating what your group does, objectives to achieve and how it is run. If you have these set out, (it is often a good idea to have some guidelines in order to have checks and balances amongst the group and make sure the group works well and stays on track); it is important to keep to them, to maintain structure and order. For example, you may have agreed a quorum (the number of members of the group who must be in a meeting in order to make a decision) and therefore you must ensure at least a quorum is present at a meeting, to avoid the meeting from being unconstitutional or a waste of time. Next then, once you have prepared and organised your meeting, you need to lead an effective meeting! For more details read the next chapter.

8. THE SPIDER IN THE WEB - CHAIRING MEETINGS INTRODUCTION Now that you have gathered your meeting, everybody has their thinking caps on, ears open and have their pens ready to start writing, but who is going to start? And who is going to say who is going to start? This part will tell you who should chair a particular meeting, and how this person (or this group of people) should get their role. This part will also address how to successfully chair a meeting, keep the participants’ attention at the required level, and a few examples of what to do, as well as what to avoid at all costs. WHO SHOULD CHAIR A MEETING? Hmmm, good question! More traditionally, groups have either; a chairperson; president; or leader who chairs meetings. Choosing who should chair a meeting or many meetings can be achieved in different ways. Look at the diagram below clarifying some of the most important leadership qualities that will enable you to decide who is most appropriate for the job.

Will be confident and engage well with group Will be confident and engage well with group members

Will be a good listen

Will have group respect and will be

A good leader will be able to essentially multi-task and do the following!

Will be clear thinking (especially if there is a group dispute!)


Might be prepared to be a group repre sentative at other

Will have energy and attention

Style of selection

Single Chair


Holding elections where candidates can hold speeches, take part in hosting (candidates sit on a panel and voters put pressure on them with questions that will help them decide on the best candidate) or even run campaigns and then the voters decide on who is best.

Elections can be held similar to those for a single chair; however some people prefer a less hierarchical system. Therefore, to avoid power or leadership being held with one person, some groups prefer to work with a co-chair system, where two people are elected to share the role. Sometimes this can be good for equality reasons if you have both a male and a female in these roles.

Where the group is happy with someone who volunteer s to chair meetings, somethin g which could be agreed by group consensus. This person may be a natural leader!

Again, to avoid a hierarchical system and one person taking too much lead or responsibilit y (even if it is because they do not have enough time), some groups enjoy rotating chairs. This means that people take in turns in the role for every meeting. However, this can lack consistency, order and a figurehead.

HOW TO CHAIR A MEETING SUCCESSFULLY Chairing meetings may at first be a bit scaring and intimidating or it might be exciting and fun! It just depends on who you are. However, as a leader you have several responsibilities, which, if you want to remain a leader you have to take care of! The following are a few points on how to successfully chair a meeting: 1. Your primary objective is to chair an effective meeting! You will have to keep the meeting going, with the ball rolling and keep people involved – keeping their focus and attention. There is no point holding a meeting that people are not passionate about and not willing to contribute to. 2. You will have an agenda that will lay out the meeting, which will be responsible for keeping to; making sure each individual item is discussed appropriately, reaching a decision at the end of the debate. 3. It needs to be a fair meeting – people need to have a fair opportunity to have their say – try and draw things out of those who are quieter. Equally, whoever is chairing the meeting will need to prevent people from dominating too much and taking over! As leader, you will have to be conscious to avoid

The role of a facilitator is to guide a meeting assisting or making easier the meeting process. Facilitators keep meetings on track and ensure people are having their say and may use some prompt questions in discussions. They ensure efficient and inclusive meetings. For more info link to: http://seedsforc hange.org.uk/fr ee/facil

doing this yourself. Useful tip: To ensure that people do not talk over each other – use a ‘talking stick’. This is just a stick (or could be any other object e.g. a ball) which is passed around the group when people want to say something. Only the person with the object can speak. 4. The role of a leader is also to do the formalities: to introduce people well – making people feel welcome, especially newcomers and guests and also to thank people! They will also need to summarise key points, make sure everyone can hear what is being said and clarify anything people do not understand. Remember: One of the best ways of learning how to be a good leader is to practise and learn from your mistakes. Observe people who you think are good leaders and take notes (even if it is just mentally) on what made it effective. You can always ask people at the end of the meeting what they would like to see improved at the next meeting and take it into account! They will appreciate your consideration and will feel listened to, which is important! How to keep the group’s attention and motivation Naturally some meetings are going to be a bit dry and boring – they cannot all be fun and games! However, there are methods you can use which will enable the meeting at lease a little more diverse and interesting! · Firstly, although some people would consider it a time waster, beginning a session or meeting off with an ice-breaker/energiser is really worthwhile. It gives people the opportunity to relax, do something informal and get to know each other a little better – vital for good team work! In fact, energisers do not just need to be used at the beginning of meetings, use them when you feel it is most appropriate! If you can see that people need something to give them a blood-rush, you know, get them up and get them to shake their bits and have a bit of a boogie if the mood is right! At the end of the day, taking 5-10 minutes to do that will improve everyone’s overall level of work. Take a look in the back of this Manual for some of our own suggestions for what you can do, as well as some great links that can give you some ideas! · Secondly, people will interact well in different ways. This can be through visual, hearing or taking part methods. In order that people get the most out of meetings as possible, try and include all of these three learning styles (For more details, see Presentation of skills). Therefore you can work using presentations, group discussions and group brain-storming for people to build on each other’s points, work in pairs, work in groups, and role-play for scenarios you may come across, showing images and film and using flipchart to take notes. · Using all of these above styles will hopefully mean people will not switch off. Because people will not be sitting still in the same position constantly, they should not fall asleep! They will have the chance to move around, engage in different ways and talk to different individuals. Sitting still is surely


the way to doom your group! · Conflict within a group, could definitely be a downer, so having some ideas up your sleeve, of how to deal with these situations, could definitely come in useful. People will feel de-motivated if they think things are not going well – it could well lead to disengagement and loss of membership! Therefore, take a look at our Leadership and team work section for more info, on how to mediate and deal with conflict situations. · At the end of the meeting, be positive! Round it up on a good note, summarising what was achieved, praising people for their good work and a motivation for the work ahead before the next meeting. People like to feel appreciated and also like seeing results – often people do not realise how much they have really achieved in a meeting. · Give a balance between personal benefits and organisational benefits. Although some things will be achieved through the work duty members have with respect to the group, this cannot be done alone. The organisational benefits cannot and must not outstrip the personal benefits individuals will also achieve – making new friends, accreditation for work, something to put on their resume! So make sure participants are getting something out of it for themselves in the meeting!

SOME QUICK DO NOT’S! Do not patronise, do not talk for too long, do not talk over people, do not use jargon and do not always assume that people know what you are talking about, do not let people down, and ultimately, do not abuse your rights as leader!!!


INTRODUCTION So you are trying to document your meeting so that you have records on what was said and who said it, what decisions were made, tasks that were set and who said they would do them and of course by when. It is an awful lot of information to take down, but what is the most effective way of doing this? Take a read of the following section to find out how! WHY TAKE MINUTES? Minutes are a very important and effective tool that helps to run effective groups and meetings. Therefore you want to make the job as simples possible. As mentioned in the previous section on ‘How to Organise Meetings’, minutes have a variety of uses:

To record what people have committed to and therefore holding people accountable to their promises. Why to have minutes ?

As a reminder for what has been decided (for some of us, memory may not be our strong point!) To be an up-dating tool for those who were unable to attend a meeting for any particular reason.

TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE MINUTE TAKING Taking minutes can be quite stressful - especially if you - the minute taker wants to contribute to the meeting too. Therefore the following will give you some tips to enable your job to be as easy as possible: - If you have time, try and layout a minute structure before the meeting starts so that you can just get on with the job as soon as the meeting begins without falling behind. Decide whether you are more comfortable writing minutes by hand and either photocopying them or typing them up after the meeting, or maybe you are a quick typist and prefer typing them there and then so you can circulate them to members straight away.


- At the top of your page write whose meeting it is (e.g. what group it is, such as your local school union/council or national group meeting), the venue you are holding it in and what time it was being held. Underneath, it is always good practice to include: who was in attendance of the meeting; who

gave their apologies and could not attend and; who did not give their apologies but still did not come to their meeting. Then you can start writing your minutes! It is ideal to outline them in almost a chart format. In the first column, number the different items of discussion, as numbered in the agenda. The next column should show a record of the discussion that took place. This does not mean you need to write down what was said word for word. These should be brief notes that summarise key points that were made, with a variety of arguments (you may want to decide in advance of the meeting whether you want to record who said what and whether names should be included - but these may have implications if the minutes are to be publicly circulated), but should definitely state any decisions that were made. This should be followed by a column stating all the action points that need to be made, followed by who and by when. (In the annex you can find a template on how to write minutes). The minutes should include the date for the next meeting and the venue so that people have no doubt when it is. Minutes need to be circulated as soon as possible after the meeting so that people can follow up their tasks and actions straight away. Minutes once written need to be agreed upon as a correct record of the meeting that took place. If people are unhappy with it, they can give amendments. This normally takes place at the next meeting of the group. This prevents it just being a record from one pe rson’s point of view. The document will then be a formal record to be filed. PUBLIC OR PRIVATE? The group needs to decide whether minutes should be available to the public. This can have its pros and cons, depending on what you are working on and what kind of people you want to be reading them. For example, minutes could be available online for the public who want to keep up to date with what your union/group is doing, but either does not want or cannot become a member. On the other hand, there may sometimes be issues that you are discussing and that are confidential and should not be recorded so that just anyone can access them. You may decide then not to make those particular minutes available at all, or to cut out the sections you do not want people to read. KEEP IT SHORT AND SIMPLE Remember that sometimes “the more you say, the less is being said”. If you have written 10 pages of minutes no body will probably read them. Rather focus on tasks and concrete decisions instead of arguments although this might sometimes be necessary.



INTRODUCTION The success of your union does not only depend on the amount of engagement and the number of people working for the cause of the organisation. It also depends on the knowledge and skills of the people that are active. You are not going to be in the union forever, neither you nor the people that are with you now. School student unions have a huge turnover of members; therefore knowledge management is one of the most important areas of work to be in control if you want to maintain union effectiveness. You do not want your successors to start over from scratch and by following just a couple basic routines you can easily avoid some of these problems and help them to take up the work where you left off. Knowledge in a union is mostly accumulated by experience of doing different types of work. Knowledge gained from trying and failing, and trying again. It might be important for your union to identify the key competences that need to be spread among the members and form a strategy for doing this. In this chapter we will discuss different methods for spreading knowledge in your organisation and methods to prevent the repetition of union mistakes of generations to come.

DOCUMENTATION A lot of knowledge is more easily distributed if it is available in print. By writing short reports on important work you have done, not only will your work be documented, but your experiences will be more easily accessed by other activists. These reports can be displayed in whatever way you find most appropriate, but keep two keywords in mind when writing these kinds of reports: be short and be honest. Short, because details are not interesting to most people reading them, what is interesting are your reflections on how your subject went, why certain things failed while other things went just fine. Remember that these kinds of reports are useless if they are hard to overview. Honest, because it does not help your successor if you have written a report only to polish your legacy. They need to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.


SHORT REPORTS CAN BE USEFUL FOR: Important projects o o o

Campaigns Political projects Information projects

Meetings of importance o o o

Internal meetings External meetings Meetings with partners

Events o o o o

General assemblies Conferences and seminars Demonstrations Parties

Personal experience o

At the end of a period on a position, everyone should write reports on their experiences THE SHORT REPORT SHOULD CONTAIN INFORMATION ON: -

The process of organising and fundraising for your event (or whatever you are reporting on) Practical issues and obstacles encountered Failures and successes in the process The overall results, what was good, what was bad Tips for the future

It is a good idea to write annual reports on just a couple of pages that treats the most important issues of the year. These can be a good start for people who try to get an overview over past years or see what interesting projects the union have previously worked. WRITING SHORT MANUALS Even more important than reports are short manuals. For instance you could write a manual after organizing a concert, a big event, campaign or summing up the experience you have from working in a certain ďŹ eld for a period of time. In a good organisation the activists write short manuals whenever they gain important experience. Boil your experience down to general guidelines of how to do the work in the best possible way. This will be a great resource for those who take over the work at a later stage. It could also be strategic to write manuals for lower levels of the organisation. The Manual you are reading at the moment is an example of this. If you have for instance a national union, it might be a good idea for the people working at national level to write a manual on something such as book keeping, for

example to pass on as a resource for the local school student unions. When writing a manual, you should write it as head-on as possible. Focus on the concrete work and skip the theory. Write it shortly and precisely. ARCHIVES All these reports need to be stored and organised somewhere along with other important documents, book-keeping, mail, contact registers, and etc. Having a head-quarter would be ideal - preferably not in someone’s house, as you never know what will happen to that person - they may well need to suddenly leave the organisation. This archive is useless if it is not easy for the person searching for information to find what he/she is looking for. An archiving system needs to be good and foolproof. A good system should have the following attributes: Easy to archive new material Easy to find material according to subject and date Minimal risk of loosing it all PHYSICAL ARCHIVE Some things need to be in physical archive, especially bookkeeping. Most countries have rules on how long you should store your bookkeeping. This requires actual receipts and signed documents, and must therefore be stored physically. The same goes for things like printed campaign materials such as posters, leaflets, folders , and etc. DIGITAL ARCHIVE Most things are more useful in a digital archive. It is easy to set up a digital archive that is easy to overlook. The digital archive is more accessible than the physical one. People can easily e-mail stuff from the archive to you wherever you are and you can use texts or pictures that you find for new materials more easily. It is easy to set up but a bit more risky. To destroy a physical archive it takes a flood or a fire but a digital archive can be destroyed by a computer breakdown or a stupid person. Make sure that you set up a good back-up routine. INTERNAL EDUCATION Besides exchanging valuable knowledge in print, there are several ways for the unions to educate their members, as described in the following part of this Manual. COURSES/TRAININGS Organise courses and train members on important aspects of how to work in the union. This can be done as workshops, lectures, role plays, seminars, and etc. It can be done by internal people with good knowledge in the area or it can be done by getting input from external experts, all depending on the subject. This can be used in all different levels of the organisation but in particular for new activists so that they can easily be involved in the activities of the organisation as quick as possible.


STUDY CIRCLES The union can arrange study circles on specific issues or areas of interest for those who want to continuously learn more about a certain area of work.

A study circle should meet regularly, and have someone in charge of planning the meetings. Invite experts, study books and manuals on the area and discuss the content. For details on how to run a successful study circle, you might see the Leadership and Organising Meetings section of this Manual useful. NETWORKING Another way of educating members internally is to set up networks of people in the same position. Maybe all the presidents of local school student unions in a city can gather once in a while and exchange experience and knowledge, sharing different approaches and solutions to the problems a president of a school student union encounters in his or her work. In this way the participants can get very concrete tips and good practices through a process where they learn from each other’s mistakes and successes. This type of peer education is both enjoyable (meeting people like yourself) and successful! OVERLAPPING It is a good habit to organise an event where people leaving the union can share their experience with the people taking over the union. Transferring the roles and handing over work is important. This is a good way of passing on knowledge. In addition, it could be a good idea to set up people leaving key positions to coach people taking over those positions, or it could eventually lead to a ‘buddy’ system. COACHING Coaching is to help people develop their skills and knowledge through individual guidance. The activist is supported to make progress both by feeding directly from the experience of the coach and from the possibility to discuss with someone outside the group he/she is working in. It is not easy to be a coach. One needs to resist the temptation “to catch the fish”. The coach is “teaching how to fish”. There are many aspects of coaching. We present some of them below. The basic rules of coaching When coaching someone you will have to accept some basic rules: -

You are not the one taking decisions. It does not matter if you agree or not, your role is to help those you are coaching to come to a decision that is thoroughly thought. Always let the one being coached make the first proposal of what to do. Afterwards you can give your advices starting from the initial proposal. You cannot force someone to be coached. Stick to the feedback rules (For more details, see Leadership and teamwork). Try to pose questions to support people to come to their own answer rather than giving it yourself. You should be more interested in helping the individuals develop their understanding for the whole issue than just make a certain decision. Use questions beginning with “why”, “what” and “how” since these questions demand more explanation than questions that could be answered with yes or no. For example, “What do you think about these aspects influencing your project?”

PERSONAL COACHING This is the most usual way of coaching and normally takes place initiated by the individual who would like to be coached. The coach and the individual normally just meet to discuss issues of interest for the activist. The purpose of the coach is to help the activist develop views and ideas in certain areas. The coaching can be both on a regular basis as well as occasionally when the activist feels the need to discuss a certain issue with the coach. People can learn a lot from each other by just discussing different issues, even if it is just a monthly meet up and chat in a café. OFFICIAL ADVISORS A lot of unions have what is called the board or the council of advisors. This is a loose group of people with a specific knowledge in the areas to do with the organisation and who have certain responsibilities. The advisors can be lawyers, journalists, bankers or other professionals who are friendly with the idea of the union and have expertise in areas useful to the union. However, often the advisors are former union activists who like to pass their knowledge on to new activists.

PROJECT-RELATED COACHING Project-related coaching is done by inviting one or more coaches to help out doing a project. Often it will start with the coach presenting the essence of their experience and then just being accessible for further support if necessary. COACHING DECISION MAKING This is a difficult discipline. To do this, the coach should only help the activists analyse the aspects of the decision. The coach should neither interfere nor try to influence the decision. To help make decisions, one could use the SWOT-analysis method (See the Appendix). COACHING THROUGH ROLE PLAY A very effective way of coaching is through doing small role plays. For example, if an activist is preparing for a press conference or interview with the media, the coach may act as a journalist to help the activist prepare his/her answers. The same can be done when preparing for a public debate or a meeting with a stakeholder that should be convinced to support a union project. SPREADING ORGANISATIONAL CULTURE The culture of an organisation is the way people behave in the organisation. What attitudes and values dominate the organisation? How do we relate to each other? How are things normally done? These values are often spread without people being aware of it. By making yourself conscious of how the culture affects your work, you can take advantage of the good aspects of it and aim at changing its bad aspects. This can be done simply by discussing it among you.


ANALYSE YOUR ORGANISATIONAL CULTURE BY POSING YOURSELF THESE QUESTIONS: What are the unwritten rules of the organisation? Is the culture open to newcomers? Do people respect each other? How do people usually socialise? From these questions you can learn important lessons on how you and others feel about the organisation. By respecting what are good aspects of the culture, you can aim at changing its bad aspects. This can be done simply by discussing it among you, or it can even be brought up at a general assembly or another meeting, depending on the nature of the issue. ALUMNI Another way of making the most of past knowledge and experience is through establishing alumni networks. An alumni network is for former activists. Many people have started their careers in school student unions and have moved on to be very successful. The alumni network could have various people who have established valuable contacts that can help you in your work. But remember that it is the current union that runs the organisation and although the thoughts and ideas of previous generations are useful, ultimately they must abandon and realise the organisation is in your hands to develop and improve.



INTRODUCTION The size and efficiency of the activities of a school student union does not only depend on the motivation and skills of the members, it also depends on the union financial resources. A good financial stability simplifies a lot for the union such as organising a campaign demands resources for making posters, tshirts or whatever needed. To visit other schools and to attend official meetings resources for travelling are necessary. To throw off a concert demands PA-systems, lights, payment to the bands, and etc., and an equipped office facilitates the daily work tremendously. All these cost money. To raise money is a tricky part for most school student unions. Below we will take a look at different sources for funding and at the strengths and weaknesses with these sources. MEMBERSHIP FEES Most school student unions have membership fees. In many countries the members need to pay a fee in order for the government to consider them as legal members of the organisation. To use membership fees as a major source for funding might have both advantages and disadvantages. In an organisation where there are large incitements for individual school students to join the organisation a bigger fee can be charged. In Finland members of the school student union get a personal agenda, 6 editions of the school student newspapers per year and a 50 % discount on busses and trains among other. This is such a big incitement for the school student to join that most students see no problem paying a membership fee of 12 /year (2006). For school student unions that only focus on collective improvement of the school students’ situation, for example through political campaigns, it is hard to set a high membership fee since the result of the campaigns most often take years to implement and often affects next school student generations. Another weakness with membership fees is that they cost a lot to administrate. To send out letters concerning fees and to register who has paid and who has not is a demanding process. The organisation could also have several categories of membership to make sure that the fees will not be a hinder for anyone who wants to enter the organisation (For more details, see “School student union structures”).


SUPPORT FROM THE GOVERNMENT Some countries have systems for financial support to the civil society and often the largest part of this support is directed towards youth organisations since their members are less financially autonomic. There are generally two types of support from the government: one is general organisation support based on the number of members and activities organised. The other type of government funding, which is more frequently used, is grants given to specific projects of the organisation. The government often has an agenda for this kind of financial support to the civil society. Remember that their goals with the

support are seldom the same as yours. Do not be so blinded by the strife for financial support to your organisation that you change too much of the projects to satisfy the ones in charge over the funding. It helps if you have good connections with government officials. Check up how other organisations in your country finance their work. Local school student unions can also try to get some financial support from their school. SALES School student union can also sell a lot of stuff in order to raise money for the union work. All school students need different materials such as pens, notebooks, literature, locks for lockers, calculators, and etc. If the union finds cheap sources to buy this material for a price lower than other retailers that makes a bigger profit. In this way the union helps students to save some money and at the same time it gains a small income. Besides the material directly related to teaching the union can organise the sales of photo catalo gues, graduation related articles such as caps, rings, and etc. In many schools the union either has a cafeteria or different vending machines. Some sales can be very time consuming. Remember always to evaluate if the work you put into these activities balances positive outcome. The USO school student organisation of Switzerland has produced a template contract for local school student unions that want to make a deal with vending machine providers. Since USO takes care of the negotiation on behalf of all local student unions they have the possibility to demand better deals where the local unions gain higher share of the profit and can easier influence the content of the machines. In schools with a strong “school spirit” there is often a demand for products related to the school. Most common is clothes with the school’s logo but your imagination is the limit for what products you make. These kinds of things also help building a strong sense of belonging. A strong school spirit is the same as a good team spirit and is basis of the work in a student union. Without the team spirit it is hard to motivate people to work to improve the situation for each other. A national union can also sell own publications, toolkits and lectures that it has produced to schools and local unions. Maybe you have experts on how to treat different issues in schools. If there is a big demand from schools on how to treat these issues, your union can send its experts in exchange for a sum of money. In Sweden there is a legal provision that all schools have school student safety ombudsmen. The head teacher shell check that these ombudsmen are educated for their commission of trust. Since no one besides the Swedish school student union has expertise in this area the union sells seminars to schools on how the student safety ombudsmen could work. EVENTS In the same way the union can sell products, it can organise events such as

concerts, parties, exhibitions, and etc. to raise money. If a good tradition of these events is built up they can become a continuous source of income for the union (For more details, see “Organising events”). SPONSORS The more recognition and attention the work of your organisation achieves, the easier it is to get financial support from different stakeholders that want their name to be seen in a good context. TRADE UNIONS AND UNIVERSITY STUDENT UNIONS School Student unions are in many ways school students’ trade unions. There are many similarities in how we work and we share a lot of ideas which make up foundations of our organisations. If people have positive experiences from their school student union they are likely to join the university student union when they start university or the trade union when they start working. The skills they develop while working with the school student union is very similar to the skills needed in these hig her stages. You could say that school student unions train future unionists. A good school student union is in the direct interest of university student unions as well as trade unions and therefore it is easy to motivate them to support the school student union. They can support the union both financially or with offices and access to internet, telephones, fax and copy machines, and etc. as well as with competence on organisational matters in general. LOCAL AUTHORITIES Local authorities can be particularly useful for single events. If a school student union is organising a big event that is going to be promoted a lot in media, and where many successful, active and engaged young persons will attend, the local authorities of the city or the region where the event is held can sponsor it to gain good publicity. This is especially easy when it comes to events with a long tradition. The school student union of the Swedish speaking Finns’ general assembly is called Elevriksdagen (the school student parliament) and it has been organised every year since the sixties. It is well known and well covered in media and because of that many cities are eager to host the event. The school is not only responsible for giving the students knowledge; it is also responsible for turning them into active, democratic citizens. Through being active in a school student union you are trained in it. The school student organisation of Sweden has set up several treatises with local authorities where the authorities support the organisation financially if certain conditions are met. They know that an active school student union in their city or region will activate a lot of school students and in that way it does a lot for the democracy training.


COMPANIES The union of secondary students of Macedonia got sponsored by the Macedonian railway company and got the national board to travel by train without any charges. This saved them a lot of money. In connection to single events you can always get local business to sponsor different parts of your event. Maybe you need fruit for the breaks. On a three day event for 200 people this might mean 400 fruits. To save money the union can try to convince a local supermarket or a food producer to give them for the event as good will. It often helps if they get some kind of official recognition for their good deeds. Maybe a note in the programme or on the website

is enough. There are strong streams of CSR (Company-Social Responsibility) in Europe and these can be used to the advantage of the school student union. TRUST FUNDS/FOUNDATIONS In most countries in Europe people can set up trust funds/foundations that give grants to certain projects and interests. The trust funds often have certain criteria defining what they give money for. These can be very specific but maybe you can find a foundation with criteria that match your organisation work. DONATIONS Of course the union can build structures making it possible for people to donate money to the organisation. If there is a genuine interest for this, you can set up systems where people can sign up for monthly or annual donations. Your bank should be able to help you with this.

ATTENTION! The union should never be financially dependant on specific interests and the union always needs to consider that it is not changing the alignment of its work just to rise more funding. A big risk with getting financial support from the government is that you might become to dependant on a certain administration. The result of the elections should not have too big impact on the financial resources of the School Student Union. Organisations such as Amnesty International or Green peace do not accept financial support from the government because they think that it might affect their actions since they then will be partly dependant on the same body that they are trying to influence. The same goes for companies. Always analyze the pros and cons.


INTRODUCTION When you have managed to raise funding for your organisation you need to know how to save, invest and report it. You may ask why it is important to have a clear and correct bookkeeping, since it can be very time consuming, but it is important for the members (as well as for your financers and the authorities) to be able to see what is going on with their money and if it is used in the way it was intended for. By having good control over the financial planning of the organisation you are also able to prioritize among the organization activities. Therefore, it is important to link the financial planning to the organization activity programme. Finally, it is a question of liability and legality you prove that you administrated the money to the best of your knowledge and belief. If the members accept the bookkeeping and the annual report and discharge the board members, they are no more liable for the actions done. (This means that no one can accuse them anymore that they have not acted in terms of the organisation but if they have done something illegal such as manipulating the balance or likewise, they are certainly liable.) HAVE CLEAR AND DEFINED FINANCIAL REGULATIONS Every marriage counsellor knows that money is one of the major reasons for conflicts in the family. The same could almost refer to organisations. Since most people do not really get in to the school student movement to discuss finances people tend to avoid the subject in favour of talking about the organization activities and policies. This lack of discussion leads to lack of clear regulations which leads to misunderstandings, bad management and scarce resources for activities. Here follows a few basic tips regarding financial regulation. ELECT A CASHIER You need to clearly define who is responsible for what and what is expected of whom when it comes to financial matters. Elect a cashier who controls that all bills and fees are paid, lists all the inflows and outflows in a simple bookkeeping (see Appendix) and further defines all routines for reimbursements, and etc. (in some countries these people need to be over 18 years old). Although you need someone with administrative responsibility it is important to remember that the organization economy is the whole board’s responsibility. SET UP EXPENDITURE LIMITS Of course the cashier cannot control every pen and paper you buy to your organisation. To make things more flexible you may set up finance regulations where people are given the right to make certain investments. For example, you may give the project conference manager the control of the budget with the restriction that he/she is not allowed to exceed the budget given by the board. You may also set up limits for expenditure so that e.g. the president has the right to spend a certain amount of money without informing the board. This is to give the board (or other governing body) the control over the frames of


the budget and still making it effective and flexible. REIMBURSEMENT REGULATIONS By reimbursement we mean repayment of charges someone made while he was working for the organisation. Items to be reimbursed could be food expenditures for food, working material, travelling costs, phone calls and perhaps accommodations regarding meetings over more than one day. In the regulations you have to write down who has the right to be granted reimbursed. Perhaps you just reimburse a special ticket category or you just reimburse an accommodation for all persons, who live farther than 100 km and just up to 30 Euros a night or something alike. To be reimbursed, each person has to list his or her claims upon a reimbursement accompanied by description why this expense was necessary and with a slip to prove the expense. You can find an example of a reimbursement in Appendix. BUDGET AND FINANCIAL PLANNING In general, you are going to spend the money for your statuary purposes, but this is a really lax commitment and you will soon have to set up a budget to show how much money you gain and how you spend it. The budget should be linked to the activity programme. When you allocate financial resources to an activity you partly set the priority of the project. Sometimes you will exceed the allocated resources for an item, and then you need to prioritize among your other activities and cut your expenses down in other items. It is the cashier’s task to control the adherence to the budget but the final response lies at the whole board (or other body that governs the organisation) because they are the ones controlling the organization priorities. BANK ACCOUNTS Soon your organisation is going to deal with so much money that it will be advisable to open a bank account. Having a bank account makes it easier to pay bills, get an overview of your fortune, collect some interest and keep your money safe, but it also makes it easier for members or others purchasing services from your organisation to pay fees and bills to your organisation. Be aware that a bank account is not just a bank account; there are hundreds of different specifics. Make sure you keep your fees low and that it is easy to change who has the right to withdraw money since this will be changed almost every year in a school student union. Secondly you may have a problem if you have minor aged board members. So the easiest way is probably to take your statutes, go to the bank and speak to someone in charge of offers for business clients. In exchange for better interest rates and lower fees you can propose them to state on your website that your organisation works with bank X. It can be good to have a good contact for financial advice. In some countries the tax legislation for non-governmental organisations such as school student unions can be quite tricky.



INTRODUCTION The success of the school student union is based on the activists’ motivation (For more details, see “Activating the school students”) and the work efficiency. A good leader makes the activists motivated and effective. Many people confuse leaders with persons in a certain leading position. In a group there are many leaders. Different people have authority in different issues. Leadership is about being aware of how you can support the team, make the activists feel comfortable in their work and get the most performance out of the group. The concrete tips presented below should therefore be considered not only by the official leaders but by everyone involved in teamwork. GROUP PHASES: There are certain phases a group goes trough. Here is a short summary of the phases, what the group needs at a particular stage and what you can do as a group leader. These phases must be seen as examples and possibilities. Not every group goes trough these phases linearly. 1.

FORMING-PHASE: This is the first phase where the first bonds are built and the group members get to know each other. Group needs: safety acceptance Methods and actions as a group leader: Give all necessary (technical) information to the group; Use ice-breakers and name games to facilitate the first socializing processes; Take participants seriously, to build the first feeling of safety and acceptance, respect and recognition is extra necessary; Set aims and goals together. Different expectations can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts later on. Make sure the grouworks towards the same goal. 2.


After breaking the first ice and being accepted, the members try to find what their role in the group is.


Group needs: Members need to find their “place in the group”. Methods and actions as group leader: Visualize the interest and expectations from the group members; Use inclusive working methods to get everyone in the group involved, maybe the methods you use prevent members of the group


from taking part in a way they feel comfortable with; Evaluate and take critique seriously. If the members cannot find a role that fits them they will not be able to work.



After finding their place in the group the members of the group will need to start interacting with each other. Group needs: Open discussions about incidents (on personal level); Orientation in handling with one another; Balance of interest. Methods and actions as group leader: Give possibilities for open (personal) talks; Involve all group members in setting goals and tasks (leading to better different prospective acceptances). 4.


Now the real action starts and the group focus on the work. Group -

needs: Work autonomously; Have actual tasks and responsibilities; Get in contact with other groups.

Methods and actions as group leader: Coordinate the group; Develop contacts with other groups; Set new concrete goals and tasks. FIRST STEPS First of all it is important to create a feeling of safety within the group right from the beginning. This can be done through ice breakers and getting shared exercises. Another important thing is that the members know what is going to happen. Give them a time-schedule and ask them to state their own expectations. For groups that work over long time a group “contract” is a good way of setting conditions under which the group will work. Collect ideas from the participants. This contracting can contain things such as “We wait until someone has finished before we start speaking” or “We respect each other’s opinion” and so on. Knowing what and how something is going to happen and the impression that own ideas and expectations are included give a feeling of safety and acceptance. EVERYONE WORKS AND LEARNS DIFFERENTLY! Try to use a variety of methods when working with a group. Only inputs such as lecture are not the best way to include everyone. Keep an eye on the silent people as well, and ask them for their opinions, try to use methods like group activities (e.g. reading a text in smaller groups and then presenting it to the

others), or ask people to write their ideas or opinions about a certain topic on a piece of paper that you put on a wall and then discuss them. If you have an important discussion and only half of the group members participate actively you could include everyone by doing a “round” where everyone should state their view on the issue. INSTEAD OF ORDER Leadership in volunteer organisations differs quite a lot from the leadership in professional organisations. In a professional organisation, where people are paid for their job, the leadership can easily move resources between different projects and different tasks. If there is a need of more waiters in a restaurant and there are too many chefs hired one could either ask the chef to start serving or if he/she is not capable of this, he can be fired and the restaurant can hire another waiter/waitress. This does not apply to an organisation based on volunteer work such as school student unions. If a student is working on a project, the amount of time he/she puts in the work is based on how motivated the student is to work for the issue. An activist engaged in putting up a concert cannot be expected to be as engaged in organising a demonstration. If you ask people what is the most important skill to have as a leader most people respond “to know how to delegate”. As explained above a leader in a volunteer organisation such as a school student union cannot delegate in the same way as a leader in a professional organisation. To handle this situation the leader needs to try to avoid giving orders but rather “make” people volunteer and feel responsibility for different tasks. Inspiration is a keyword. As a leader you should be able to inspire the team members and help them see possibilities and holistic picture of their work. The leader should also encourage people to feel like experts in their area of work. If you see yourself as the one with the most expertise in an area you also feel responsibility to take care of that area. If you are not taking the responsibility, who will? SUPPORT THE OTHERS IN THE GROUP BY SETTING UP DEADLINES AND MILESTONES Whether you have delegated tasks and projects to others in the group or if they have taken on projects on their own it is important that you do not just leave them with the work all by themselves. At the same time it is important that they have responsibility for the tasks delegated to them. A good way for you as a leader to support them is to help them to set up deadlines and milestones. When should they complete particular parts? Ask how much time they need to fix a certain task and give them 30 % more time than they say they need. In this way it is easier for you as a leader to hold them accountable if they fail to finish their task on time. If the activist has a hard decision to make, you could support him/her by setting up a structure for the analysis of the situation. List pros and cons with the different options or make a SWOT-analysis (For details regarding this method, see the Appendix) so the activist can get a better overview of the options. CONFLICT MANAGEMENT IN GROUPS


In every group there are conflicts, so do not panic when you feel that your group (in a workshop for example) is facing a problem. Constructive teamwork

includes working with conflicts in the team and accepting them as a normal element of team communication. Sometimes you can notice problems right away; sometimes they happen more under the “surface”. ADDRESS PROBLEMS If you feel that there are problems in a group it is mostly the best thing to address them directly, either to the whole group or to the involved people in general. If you for example have the feeling, that someone, all of a sudden does not want to contribute anymore, ask him/her during a break what the matter is, and what is needed that this person feels involved again. Directly addressing issues in a group can also end up in people’s feelings get hurt or someone being upset. GIVE FEEDBACK! It is truly important to give feedback to the members of your group and especially credit when they have done a good job (For more details, see “Activating the school students”). Negative feedback is of course necessary sometimes although it seldom increases the performance of the members in the group in the long run. It can also result in a lowered activists’ performance. The worst scenario for positive feedback is no change in performance. There is nothing to lose by recognizing members’ performance. It is anticipated that positive recognition of good performance will result in performance improvement. Studies from the professional life (Spitzer, 1995) indicate the following: -

In a nationwide survey of 2000 workers in the USA by the Gallop Organization, 69% indicated that receiving praise and recognition from their bosses was more motivating than money. Four out of five workers said recognition or praise motivates them to do a better job. Many managers have a tendency to ignore the good and satisfactory performance of their workers. Most (75-80%) workers say they can be significantly more productive.

Rules for giving positive feedback When giving positive feedback there are several guidelines to follow: 1.

Earned: Positive feedback must be earned by the volunteer. Providing positive feedback for unsatisfactory performance will destroy the leader’s credibility.


Immediate: Positive feedback should be provided immediately after or during the good performance. The longer the time period between the performance and the recognition, the less effective the feedback will be.


Personal: Be personal when providing positive feedback. That is, use the personal pronoun “I” rather than the more impersonal expressions of “we,” “the organisation”, and etc., which will help positive feed

back be perceived as sincere. 4.

Improvement: Leaders should not wait for perfection to provide posi tive feedback. In fact, any time a leader or coach sees improvement, the improvement should be recognized. Otherwise, without feedback the improvement may disappear. Please note, it is the improvement that is being recognized, not the overall performance level, which may not yet be up to what is being expected.


Individualized: Individual one-to-one positive feedback is more power ful than group or team feedback. This does not mean that coaches should not recognize the group for team accomplishments. It only sug gests that individual positive feedback should be included in the feed back process.


Often: Some research (Latting, 1992) has suggested that to create an optimal work environment, coaches should be providing a positive to negative feedback ratio of 4 to 1 (4:1). What is your feedback ratio? Most leaders fall considerably below this ratio and furthermore, much of the positive feedback they do provide is not heard by their col leagues (Rule 8).


Task Specific: Make positive feedback very task specific. That is, avoid the “good-job” syndrome because it is too general, lacks specificity, and can more easily be interpreted as lacking in sincerity.


Pure: When providing positive feedback, keep it pure. Do not mix posi tive with negative feedback via the “but” or “however” words. For example, “You did a good job today, but. . . .” The activist will only hear what comes after the “but”.


Vary Style: Most positive feedback is provided verbally. Look for alter native ways to deliver the “good” news. Examples include letters, memos, telephone, email, post-its, and etc.


Sincere: Volunteers have a knack for recognizing when their leader is just going through the motions, when he is not being sincere.


Positive critique in public (negative critique in private): Treat positive critique in public and negative critique in private. Remember that reputation and good respect from others is one of the forces of motivation.

Feedback is not only necessary as a motivator, it is also necessary to continuously evaluate the work of the group together to be able to improve the methods of the group and make everyone satisfied with the objectives and means of the group. Use icebreakers and group dynamic exercises when needed The social climate in the group can be your best friend or your worst enemy. There are several easy games and exercises that you can use to facilitate the process in the group.


Ice breakers There are plenty of exercises and games one could use to help people get to know each other. The most basic ones help the participants to introduce themselves to the group and the more advanced ones can give the participants a more detailed picture over the personality of a participant. A name game A basic way of getting to know each other’s names is to let the members of the group tell their names and at the same time name something on the same letter as their name that is connected to them. This really helps when trying to remember members’ names. This can be done in several ways. One way is that the first person starts and then the next person should repeat all the previous names before adding his/her name and so on. Example: Person 1: Hi I’m Peter and I like food on P such as Pizza, Pasta, Pancakes, and Potatoes Person 2: Hi Pizza Pete, I’m Antonia and I’m very active. Person 3: Hi Pizza Pete, Hi active Antonia, I’m Matt and I have a moustache. Interviews The group members can also sit down in pairs and interview each other for a couple of minutes and then present the person they have interviewed to the rest of the group. SOLVING PROBLEMS TOGETHER By solving problems and situations where everyone needs to be involved, the group can train their ability to cooperate. All people have a sphere of personal space that surrounds us. Into this sphere we only let people to whom we have some kind of relation. The size of these spheres differs depending on your culture. In Nordic countries hugging and kissing is considered very intimate and something you only do with close friends while in southern Europe it is more accepted to kiss people to whom you are not very close. Regardless the cultures, exercises, where participants are forced to intrude on each other’s personal sphere often help the participants to create a bond to each other. Some people can feel uncomfortable if these kinds of exercises are introduced on a too early stage. THE KNOT A basic exercise of problem solving that at the same time force people to intrude on each other’s personal spheres is the knot. All the participants should stand in a ring, close their eyes, reach out with their hands in front of each other and on the leaders command walk straight

a head and find two hands (belonging to different people) to connect with. The participants are now stuck in a knot that they should un-tie without letting go of each other’s hands. The rope Another exercise that has the same characteristics as the knot is the rope. The leader stretches a rope at one meters height and then all the participants should pass over the rope to the other side without touching it. If someone touches the rope the whole group needs to get back on the first side and start over. To pass over the rope the participants need to co-operate by building human bridges, lifting each other or whatever they find appropriate. Feedback exercises There are several exercises that can help the group to give positive feedback to each other. Notes on the back If you have some kind of get together for one evening all the group members can tape papers to their back on which the other group members some time during the evening are supposed to write positive feedback. Have confidence in your team It is important that you show trust for your team. This can strengthen their trust in themselves and the work they do. It is also important that you do not intrude too much on the group members’ responsibilities. They need to get the chance to develop their own expertise and learn from some mistakes (as long as they are not too grave). It is also really important that you are honest towards each other within the group. Trust is the basis of any relation and for feeling comfortable in the group, not only in the relation between you and the individual group members but also amongst the group members themselves. Development of ideas and understanding in group The leader of a group needs to make sure that the members of the group develop their thinking and their understanding of the values and ideas of the organisation so that they can work after it and also help developing and improving these ideas and values. Even if development is a process continuously going on in a group there are always critical lines, levels or steps the group needs to pass in order to move on to next level. Members need to understand A to be able to move on to B. As a leader you need to identify these critical steps and help the individuals in your crew to get passed them. To pass a critical step means that you understand the idea, not only with your head but also with your guts. You should be able to feel what conflicts with the idea without the need to think first. The first critical step to take in any process understands the objectives. What values, ideas and objectives rule the project? Why? A good idea is to always start a project by clearly defining the objectives. This can save you from a lot of future misunderstandings. It is also smart to include the whole group in the planning of the project. If everyone has a good overview over the project from the start they will do a


better work with the parts they are responsible for. When individuals in the group are on different levels of understanding this often creates misunderstandings and conicts in the group. As a leader you should identify if anyone needs special attention and help to develop his/her understanding the project in order to synchronize the group on a higher level. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF Everyone, especially a leader, needs to take care of oneself. You are no good if you walk into a wall because of working too much and not resting when you should.


INTRODUCTION Applying openness and creativity, looking for different and innovative ways of doing things may incorporate a fresh and motivating character to the daily work of your SSU. This might be a key factor in some critical stages of a group and, more widely, of a SSU. In this chapter you will find some basic notions for creative management of your school student union but, as you will read here, it is all up to your creativity…! WHAT CREATIVITY IS (AND WHAT IT IS NOT) Here we are stating some clarifying points in relation to creativity, necessary before we can start thinking of how to implement it in our organization: Creativity does not concern only art. That is why we can apply it when we are organizing an event, for instance. Creativity is more than originality. Originality is one of its ele ments, but creativity seeks much more than that: it aims at cont ributing to solve the problems we have. Creativity is not individual. Creativity is a group potential: that is why it is not about having two or three creative people in the group, but about adding creativity to our working culture. Creativity is not temporary: usually, creativity appears at the initial stage of a group, or at moments of crisis, but the challenge is to have it as a constant in our daily work. Creativity is not reduced to genial ideas. It must be introduced into activities, projects, communicative actions, advances in the organization, and etc. Hence, creativity is a much more complex concept than it could appear at first sight. A simple definition of creativity could be “a collective way of thinking that stimulates members of the group and contributes to the achievement of its final goals”. With creativity we can develop a whole set of capabilities, such as originality, flexibility, productivity, imagination, elaboration, and etc. Logical thinking vs. Creative thinking Even if thinking is the differential character of human being, we do not use all of its potential (mainly because of feelings, environment, and etc) and seek for ways of simplifying it. That is how logical thinking comes up that seeks solutions in a one-way direction. Face creative thinking to logical thinking we have, which seeks solutions in multiple ways and tries not to be limited by external pressures, using resources in not a logical way.


LOGICAL THINKING It goes from some assumptions to an argued conclusion

CREATIVE THINKING It seeks for ideas conclusions argue ideas

It is true or false in its affirmations It is neither true nor and argumentations important thing is its capacity for suggesting ideas It goes step by step, in a consecutive way

It does not follow can change

Every step must be accurate

It can take may be enriching

It is selective: it excludes the nonIt explores every possibility evident ways and everything that is every perspective not related to the topic the ways It goes always towards the solution, trying always to move in the right direction It is analytical, examining phenomena with the usual categories It is deductive

There is no creates directions It is provocative, and multiplicative It is speculative, free association

With all these features, you can now check which mechanisms were used in the past and are nowadays applied in your organization. You can ask yourselves when your SSU was creative, and in which spheres, if it was a collective process or it was mainly led by some person(s), and etc. Eventually, you can ask yourself what the consequences of exploiting creative thinking would be, and how you could implement it. Some techniques for creative thinking and creative management So now we are ready to present some of the techniques that are often used for a SSU creative management. However, a real implementation of creative thinking should make you able to develop your own strategies and dynamics of a creative blooming. So just let creativity invade yourself and your organization, and explore the new possibilities it can offer you! Brainstorming. It is based on the idea that valuing ideas usually limit the possibility of having more. Normally if a positively-considered idea comes up, the thinking process is stopped. On the contrary, if a negatively-considered idea comes up it usually prevents more ideas from coming because self-censorship takes place and people may prefer not to say their ideas in a loud voice. So the main idea is to separate the process of production from the process of valuing the ideas. First, people produce ideas, with no valuing or discussion, that are written (e.g. on a whiteboard, ipchart, or on post-its). Afterwards the ideas are grouped and explained if necessary, and a debate is open for choosing the most suitable ideas. Checking assumptions. Usually when we think of any problem we take for granted a set of ideas that might make us blocked and prevent us from having new ideas. Creative thinking does not deny these assumptions; it just looks for alternatives to them, restructuring concepts and checking the assumptions at their base. After choosing the topic that is going to be checked, indivi-

duals or little groups look for the main assumptions and dominant ideas of the concept. These assumptions are totally or partially checked, writing everything down on a whiteboard/flipchart, and analyzing afterwards the ideas that come out of revising and the benefits they could have. Finally the whole group presents and discusses the final outcomes of the discussions. Six thinking hats. Edward de Bono in his book Six Thinking Hats discusses a technique that can be very useful for creative thinking. It is based on a research of different roles that people can take for thinking. Six types of possible thinking are separated and associated with hats of different colours that work as a metaphorical representation of the way of thinking that is being used in every moment.

T HINK ING Informative

HAT White

SYMBOLISM Purity, neutrality , information [computer]

GOALS Gives data and facts , with no analysis



Pessimism[devil’s advocate]



Criticizes, raises objectionsandsignals dangers Reveals feelings,

Emotions, feelings, intuition [teenager] without justifications



Sun, optimism , constructiveness [explorer ]





Fertility, provocation , Makes the creative creativity [fashion thinking , looks for alternatives , and designer] provokes situations Organizes, directs , Moderationand control. [conductor] controls and synthesizes the thinking

Justifiesandpresents opportunities

After assigning the hats and explaining them, the person holding the blue hat chooses a thinking technique, and everybody starts giving ideas according to their role. When it is required, participants exchange their hats. Finally, the person holding the blue hat concludes the activity summing up the resulting ideas.



INTRODUCTION Ensuring that members of your organisation are up-to-date with what is going on is naturally important. It means everyone feels included, knows what is happening within their organisation, and prevents things from being too centrally run. Likewise, good communication means that members in their different areas are feeding back the work they are doing, which is great for sharing good ideas and resources, keeping up motivation and prevents people from repeating each other’s work. This section will give you tips on how to communicate well with everyone in your organisation to ensure the above. Be aware that as your organisation develops, you might need to introduce a communication strategy, however, this is not something that can be pre-planned, and rather it comes with the growth of the organisation. Good communication is always a great skill to have in an organisation and something you may constantly try to improve, especially as new methods of communication are introduced with the ever developing world of technology. Successful communication with an organisation’s membership can never be underestimated - membership is often the backbone to any group, especially if those members are paying a membership fee! Members need to hear from the organisation to either be encouraged that the organisation is doing well and working hard, to find out what it is doing, taking part in any opportunities there may be, or to learn more about the organisation. Lack of communication could mean a loss of membership - not good news! But at the outset, what is communication? Communication is either making known or sharing information, thoughts or feelings with others. When you are doing this internally with your members, this may be very different to how you do it externally with the public. The way you communicate will adjust to the situation, depending on what you are trying to communicate and to whom. This is something you must be very clear about. INTERNAL COMMUNICATION It is important to develop good routines for all types of communication, but especially for internal work. This way you will get into the method and do it naturally, rather than making lazy habits! Find out who has access to what means of communication. For example, does everyone have access to computers? Do people have mailing systems? Do they have landlines or mobiles? If they have any of these, is there another way of getting information to them or from them? Just because someone may not have your preferred form of communication, it does not mean they should be excluded in anyway. Finding out how you can communicate with people, means that you will not be isolating anyone out, but it does also mean you have to be flexible, bearing in mind things such as time scales (e.g. communicating something by telephone is going to be quicker than post). Each form of communication will have its own benefits depending on what you are trying to communicate. Take a look at the following table to decide what the best mediums would be for what you are doing:

Method of



Brings immediate communication; good for outlining plans or achieving immediate results; motivating. (For more details, see Organising Meetings) Can send out information for people to read, such as enewsletters; cheap; quick; easy administration; mass distribution; some people are nowadays more technologically engaged; good for updating. Ø Common e-mail address that can send messages to all those signed up to the list; easy to use; quick; cheap.

Time consuming; travel may be expensive; venue booking may be expensive; can lack follow-up.

Recipients receive hard-copies of your information; information likely to be read; good for professional invitations and thank you notes.

Slow; more expensive than email; lots of administration; unlike e-mail - cannot contact people regardless where they are in the world.


Face-to-face meetings

E-mail Ø E - groups



Easy for recipients not to read or discard; recipients may not frequently check their e-mails or may not have a computer; some people do not like reading things on a screen. Ø Tendency to be overused, thus annoying people; people use the list inappropriately and use it to send messages to individuals; easy for recipients not to read.

Telephone calls Quick; direct; demands an immediate response; hard to ignore; one-to-one contact - good for persuading people; fast results. You could set up a telephone ‘tree’, where someone rings up for example, 3 people to pass on a message and they each have another 3 people they need to call to pass on the message and so on. This prevents it from being just one individual who has to make lots of phone calls to everyone!

Can be expensive; time consuming on a mass basis; cannot be used to send documents! Only for speech communication.

Word of mouth Quick; personal contact; easy.

Relies on people to remember information; relies on individuals to communicate well personally; does not reach everyone; lacks hard information.

Text messaging Increasingly popular; can be sent to a mass of people; can send images; quick; easy; can be used for immediate reminders.

Can only send short messages; can be expensive; can annoy people.

Online networks (e.g. my space, face book)

New and popular; quick; cheap; easy.

Too many networks; relies on members to check their accounts/networks for updates.

Online Ideal for online meetings which messaging (e.g. cuts down items such as travel msn messenger) costs; regular communication; quick; easy.

Lack of direct contact - too virtual? May require software; people need appropriate access to computers.

Different methods will be appropriate for different situations, but when thinking about your communication, 1. identify your message; 2. think about who needs to know it; and 3. decide which method of getting it across is best. EXTERNAL COMMUNICATION When thinking about external communication, being visible and accessible is a key ingredient to ensure your union/organisation/group works well. And there are so many ways to do this. You can use all the different types of media – television, newspapers (how about trying to get your own regular newspaper column?), magazines – submit articles, radio and the internet to tell people who you are, what your objectives are and how they can get involved with what you do. Why not use all your creative skills and make sure your website is attractive which everyone can access and keep up to date with what is going on? It could have interactive chat pages, pod casts with interviews with activists in your group, interactive white boards, bulletins, online discussion groups, meetings and forums and blogs with personal updates and probably lots more (so if you have any web gurus as friends, use them!) It might be worth electing someone in your organisation to be responsible for communications (this could be internal or external or both!) Do not forget however, that when you communicate information, you are always a representative of your organisation, so you must be careful that you do not jeopardise any of the organisation work. WHAT DOES IT ACHIEVE? So what does effective communication achieve? If you manage to do well with your communication strategies, you will be finding a great way of spreading whatever message you are trying to – like a good virus! You will also be establishing a broad network with lots of people involved (which ultimately popular mobilisation might be you are aiming at…) You will also be providing a method of increasing support for everyone in the organisation with a network that may be able to offer a variety of solutions. It will widen the democratic representation of the organisation – again the more people involved, the more diverse your group has the potential to be and the more voice individual members have. Equally this means that if you choose to do any consultation, you will get a wider selection and quality of views and opinions. You can also run events open to members to communicate your message actively and physically, by running stalls with brochures and posters, ‘surgeries’, making speeches and/or presentations and talking in assemblies. And to save yourself extra work, you need not always run your own event from scratch, why not going along to things that are already happening and making use of already existing resources and running your own stall there? CONCLUSION So ready now to head out in the big wide world to communicate your world changing message???!!!!! Do not forget, that word of mouth is also a great method of communication – mates telling their mates about things that are going on is invaluable. However, make sure you are communicating the right message and only the necessary information – if you are just sending unnecessary junk e-mails to members, it will lead to people not reading your material at all, which is worse!



THE BASICS The basics and purpose of your presentation is to get your message across effectively and therefore it is important to: 1.

engage all people in the audience so they walk away feeling they have learnt, achieved and experienced something


be aware that people learn in three main ways: a.

kinaesthetically - by doing and taking part


auditory – by hearing


visually – by sight

To engage auditory learners, a speech or presentation is ideal; for kinaesthetic learners, an interactive activity can be successful, and for visual learners, Power Point, flipchart and visual aids such as diagrams or photographs are great so that they can physically see the points you are making. Whether your audience is active or passive, they must feel that they are part of the process.



Convince and persuade an audience on the topic you are talking about. You want them to agree with you, don’t you?


Try and gain support for your cause from the audience and engage them;


Have a logical development of your points so that it makes sense;


Prove a point in an unbiased way;


Have variety.


Why and in what way?


Be prepared and know your topic well - do the research and know your stuff - even for the least presentations.

The audience will pick up on lack of preparation and will have confidence in what you are saying. Preparation can include: i. assessing barriers you may come across during your presentation, such as if the laptop you are using breaks down, will you be able to continue your presentation with notes you have made? ii. pre-empting the questions that may arise from your presentation.


Be smart in appearance.

Unfortunately people do judge by appearance, and being well presented will mean you are likely to be respected. This does not necessarily mean wearing a suit, rather quite the opposite. It is absolutely necessary that you are associated with the average school student whom you are representing and therefore it is important to dress as one. But most important is that you feel comfortable in what you are wearing.


Speak clearly and project your voice at a suitable level so that you are not shouting.

Simple - so everyone can understand you, especially those further away.


Try and avoid jargon and acronyms and use simple language.

Again, that your presentation is understood by everyone.


Interact with the audience. They will find it more personal.


Believe in what you are saying!


Smile and enjoy the presentation and try and be confident!

Naturally you will then show passion and feeling that will be transferred to your audience and excite them. Your enjoyment is likely to be contagious which will be good, and as hard as it is try not to giggle!

THINGS TO BEAR IN MIND When making a presentation there are some important factors that are well worth considering. Firstly, before you make your presentation, find out to what age group you are presenting to. It needs to be directed to the correct audience. If you get this wrong, you may end up with older audiences feeling patronised and younger audiences will lose interest as they will lack understanding. Knowing the age group of your audience, means you can gear your presentation appropriately, for example, if you are talking to younger students you may wish to use role-play situations but this may not be appropriate for a presentation to the school board. Secondly, keep a note of the time frame you have. Timing is essential. Whether you have five minutes or five hours you need to adapt the information you wish to get across in the time you have been allocated. If you do not have enough information to fill up the time, you audience gets bored and loses focus. Have too much in the presentation then you run out of time and you end up cramming vital information into a short space of time or leaving some parts out altogether. Some people may find writing out a mini timetable or chart breaking down the time available useful to make sure they time their presen-

tation appropriately. And remember to leave time for questions and answers, in case people have queries about things you may have forgotten to mention or that did not come up – and if you do not know the answer to any questions, it is ok to say that. It is better to say you will find out the answer for the individual and get back to them, rather than pretending you know and not being convincing. Thirdly, bear in mind what the audience knowledge of your topic may be. If the audience already has knowledge on your subject, it is important not to repeat what they already know. Equally, if they do not know much, simplicity might be more effective. Try and be flexible and adaptable to the audience mood and the environment, and naturally, try and keep what you are doing as interesting as possible – you do not want people falling asleep or chatting amongst themselves (and this will not help your confidence!). RHETORIC Rhetoric is the art of using language effectively and persuasively. There are plenty of resources on the Internet and in the local library that can help you improve your rhetoric. Nevertheless, you might want to keep a few things in mind in addition to what has already been stated. First of all take a deep breath. Many people forget to breathe when they speak to audiences. Now take a look at your hands. Do not keep them in your pockets, do not join them in front of you for any length of time and do not clench some object in front of you. Move your hands and arms; use them to underline what you are saying! You will make a much more lasting and confident impression in this way. Aristotle defined rhetoric as a mode of discovery. Rhetoric is there to help you convince your audience but might also help you to structure your thoughts and to understand yourself better. When building a speech or constructing arguments (Yes, this is a work that has to be done. No one is natural even thought they might give the impression.), you should try to think of all possible arguments in favour or against. Without this you might not be able to counter arguments convincingly. Moreover, if you are trying to convince somebody to give your organisation something, try to think of a way to argue in favour of your initiative that clearly shows what the donor will get out of helping you. Think of it like barter - to get what you want you also need to give something. Aristotle gave us some more guidelines in rhetoric that are not directly concerned with delivery or manner but with how to appeal to your audience. These are divided into three rhetoric steps, invention, arrangement and style. Ethos is the way in which the character and credibility of a speaker influence an audience to consider him/her to be believable. This could be any position in which the speaker--from being a college professor of the subject, to being an acquaintance of person who experienced the matter in question--knows about the topic. Pathos is the use of emotional appeals to alter the audience judgment. This can be done through metaphor, amplification, storytelling, or presenting the


topic in a way that evokes strong emotions in the audience. Logos is the use of reasoning, either inductive or deductive, to construct an argument. These steps should help you in constructing a good speech. It is rare to find any discourse missing one of these ingredients and therefore a good exercise in rhetoric is actually to analyse speeches, commercials, articles and so forth trying to find an analysis these three steps have in that specific case. Something else you could do is to listen carefully to other people’s speeches and to take notes of things they do that you like. Keep your notebook ready and take quotes, make notes of the structure of the speech and do not be afraid to copy. Rhetoric as an art has been around for more than 2500 years and nobody is an original any longer! You can always learn more and try to practice as much as possible. Consider it as a hobby and you will have loads of never-ending fun! CONCLUSION When making a presentation, it is good to imagine yourself in the audience shoes and how they would think you came across. Try and practise your presentation beforehand and make sure you can read your own notes! Doing your presentation physically is different from how you have done it in your head. An audience is going to be more engaged if you use good body language. Try and avoid any nervous habits and fidgeting such as pen clicking, and try and keep good eye contact that spreads across everyone. Try not to focus your attention on one person, otherwise it may make them feel uncomfortable. Remember that your audience will understand and hear you a lot more if you actually face them and bear in mind if there is anyone in the room with disabilities, such as if some is deaf and needs to lip read, he/she should be able to see your mouth as much as possible. When you are talking about an issue, try and give examples in order to put it in context and more accessible for your audience to understand. And lastly it might be a good idea to give out handouts or extra notes and resources so that people have material they can refer to after your presentation. This also means they can also concentrate their attention on you rather than taking notes constantly. You may decide that at the end of your presentation, you want to give out an evaluation to find out how your presentation went and then you can have constructive feedback on how to improve it in the future. But at the end of the day, the best thing is to have confidence in yourself – if you know what you are talking about and prepare well, you will be fine!



INTRODUCTION You are likely to have one-to-one communication with various people such as your colleagues who are your partners and they are hopefully your friends too, the media, partner organisations, politicians and members in your organisation. These are the people you need to work well with in order that your organisation is successful and achieves its fantastic goals. Therefore, there are some skills that you can try and knuckle down on to improve this one-to-one interaction. Good communication on a one-to-one basis involves different parties having equal say - making their own contributions to the discussion, as well as receiving and understanding what is being said overall. LISTENING Obviously when a discussion is taking place, a great skill to have is active listening. Active listening means listening intently, with concentration, analytically and with empathy for the speaker. Some of the following tips should help you to achieve this: If papers, documents or materials are sent to you before your meeting, take the time to read or look at them carefully beforehand. Either mark sections of particular interest to you with a highlighter or make notes that you can refer to related to the materials. The more prepared you are, the less time it will take you to ‘catch up’ and be in a position to participate actively in the discussion. When in discussion, take brief notes on the key points that others are making. Referring back to earlier points accurately shows you are listening carefully and will help you keep your contributions brief and relevant to the overall discussion. While others are speaking, keep a question running in your head, like ‘Is this true? Do I agree with that…? Is that really a fact or their opinion…?’ This way you will find it easier to stay focused and attentive. Watch your body language. Try not to sigh or roll your eyes even if you disagree with what is being said. Try not to slump in your chair or loll on the desk. Sit slightly forward and look at the person speaking as much as you can. Nod at them occasionally and smile if it is appropriate. Try not to doodle. Although this probably does not interfere too much with your ability to listen, it can be very distracting for the person speaking or the person sitting next to you. Think what effect it might have on you if you saw someone doodling while you were speaking. If you are in a small group listening to a presentation, try not to talk and discuss with your neighbours. Even if it is about the topic, the presenter does


not know that and it might make him/her feel less confident. Ask occasional, relevant questions to clarify what you are hearing. Try to focus on what the other person is saying and not just think about what you want to say next. This is hard, especially if you are feeling nervous about speaking or you are very passionate about the subject. You will argue from a stronger position if you can build on what others have said before you. MAKING YOUR CONTRIBUTION But one-to-one communication is not just about active listening. It is also about being able to make your contribution to discussions. In many respects the ideas for this are similar to when you make presentations, although it would be in a more relaxed, informal format (For more details, see Presentation of skills). Even though there may be much more spontaneous discussion, try and prepare for it as much as possible beforehand by gathering notes, doing your research and follow up any tasks you may have to have done before the meeting. And switch off your mobile phone or put it on silent to avoid any embarrassing distractions! Try not to dominate discussion too much with your own opinions, try and ask the other people in the discussion their thoughts on topics also. Equally, sometimes in discussions other people can dominate you, in particular, if you are female or a young person in a discussion with adults. Often a good way to overcome this is by making a contribution very early in the discussion - preferably in the first five minutes - in order to have a say and to show you are prepared to speak. Sometimes if you do not talk straight away in confidence, others can sense this and you can slip into the background of the conversation without much influence and it gets harder and harder to have your say. MORE THAN JUST A MEETING Although one-to-one communication most commonly takes place within meetings, there is an extension to this. Meetings and discussions are very important for any work that you do, however one must not forget that a lot of work occurs outside the meeting as well - especially when you are working with people who are not close by, perhaps on an international level. Your work is going to be more successful if you keep regular contacts in between face-toface contact through medium such as e-mail and telephone. It means that you will be reminded of what you must do, give you more motivation and keep you on top of your work. Therefore, when involved in any one-to-one communication, as well as making your own valuable contribution to discussions, you also need to be able to value and respect what the other person is saying and this will enable the conversation to be the most effective possible.


INTRODUCTION As you will be well aware, media are one of the most powerful tools you can use for so many reasons and getting well equipped with your media skills is well-worth your time. The media have their purpose for the following reasons: they have the power to influence others’ opinions; they can be your free publicity (and free is always good! Or most of the time at least); they can spread a message and raise awareness of issues; they can be used for producing a positive image of something and raise profile; they can influence government and get students interested or active in your organisation. However of course, one of the reasons you need to work well with the media is because just as much as they can be useful, the media can also have negative effects, so you want to prevent this as much as possible! This section will give you the opportunity to think about how to work best with the media. MEDIA COME IN MANY FORMS Of course there are many different types of media; newspapers and magazines, television, radio and internet, but there is one common objective you will want with all of them: developing a good relationship and being flexible with them will always have its brownie points! Having the media on your side will hopefully mean better and more positive coverage. However, do not be too trustful - you do not want things to go wrong! YOUR STORY First of all, if you are thinking about having media coverage for whatever you are doing, you need to make sure that it would be attractive to the media. If it is not an interesting story, who would want to hear about it and therefore why would any media want to cover it if the story will not sell? (However, do not let this overtake your fundamental reasons for doing something.) Journalists spend their working lives coming up with stories that reveal something new to either entertain or inform their audience about what is going on in the world. The ‘newsworthiness’ of a story usually fits into one of the following categories: conflict, hardship or danger to the community, novelty, scandal or individual achievement. But stories can be interesting to journalists for a number of other reasons such as: It illustrates a trend - small, single issues are not always of great interest. Journalists are more interested in stories that have something to say about


society as a whole and how it is changing. It is a surprise - evidence that counters a commonly held belief will always gain attention. It is concise and easy to understand - the essentials must be able to be compressed into no more than one short paragraph. It can be understood by anyone - your story should be interesting to the widest audience possible and be free of jargon or narrow, specialist issues. It shows why something is unique - some stories may just be about what a particular organisation is and does. It is powerful and memorable - it is better to have one really effective and memorable media ‘hit’ than a stream of less important issues. It has a news hook or ‘peg’ - try to relate what you are doing to something that is already in the news or topical. To get out stories into the news, try to work out angles that will appeal to journalists. And do not forget that your story also needs to be attractive to your target group! For instance, If you are running an event to recruit students, there is no use in running something that will attract the elderly (like a tea party - or is that just a stereotype?) because it would not achieve your goal. Run something that is lively and that would make a good news story that would attract a youthful eye. MAKING CONTACT WITH THE MEDIA Once you think you have pitched your event correctly, you need to contact the media - creating a good relationship using personal contact will mean that they are more likely to listen to you as well as know that you are a good organisation to work with. Thus, when they need a contact to get a quote or opinion when a related story comes up, they know who and where to turn to! Action: have someone from your organisation as a media contact, who can file official responses to articles and who can maintain a consistent relationship. It would be helpful if this person is readily available as well. Journalists work on a tight schedule and do not have time to wait around to see if you are free. However, this does not mean that you must always provide an immediate response to their questions. It might sometimes be better if you take a little time, in order to have a good think, collect views from other members of your group and make sure you give a good answer. Quite likely you will be able to agree with the media a time scale in which you need to respond to them by. It is good to have communication with the media before, during and after your event. This will enable you to get the best coverage possible.

BEFORE: Write a press release to let the media know about the event so that they can already publicise it in their events section. DURING: Hopefully after your press release the press will come along to the event to cover the story or send a photographer for a good quality picture. AFTER: Follow up your event with another press release to tell the news how well it went, and attach a picture (with a good resolution!) to the press release if they did not send a photographer, so that the story has a visual element. However, avoid sending any rubbish and anything that might annoy the media – journalists do not want to receive any irrelevant information that will take up their time. If possible, it would be even better if you are able to arrange your own column or news bulletin, that you do either weekly, or monthly to update the public on what is happening, e.g. what is currently happening and affecting school students. And if you can get someone from your organisation to be a media watchdog, that would be excellent. They can check the news and media for relevant stories to your organisation and formulate responses, e.g. in letter pages in newspapers, or by contributing to blogs on websites. Signing up to Google news or alerts are a good way to help you with this, however, be cautious not to overwhelm yourself with too much information. USEFUL MEDIA SKILLS a. Preparing for an interview So there are variety of skills that will help you when working with the media. Having a good Personal Relations Officer who can promote your organisation will naturally be worth. A skill they will need to have, of course, is interview skills – you may be asked to be interviewed and give your opinion on certain topics and you will want to coherently get your message across without being side-tracked with irrelevant questions. Before an interview, it would be good to prepare yourself so that you can communicate with confidence. Things you can do to ensure this are: Make some notes of key facts you will want to contribute to the conversation and have some real-life examples prepared that will bring your story to life. Bear in mind whether your story is from a local or national angle and connect it with current affairs. Having a sound bite will also be great – it encapsulates your whole message and may be frequently referred to in future stories to come. For example, one of Tony Blair’s most famous sound bites is ‘Education, education, education’. Once he came out with it, it almost took on a life of its own. It has been referred to over and over again by the media and kept the story alive for years. Be sure about why your story is important. Try to picture yourself talking to the journalist. If you give your best sound bite and journalist say, ‘So what?’


How will you convince them that your story is in fact important? Think of negative aspects of the subject, so you are prepared for anything the journalist may say and you will know how to convince them otherwise. Try out the debate with a friend who will be able to play ‘devil’s advocate’. Prepare an opening and closing statement and learn them by heart – they may be useful. Check words that are difficult to pronounce or change them to your own words, so that you do not sound silly or trip up over what you are saying! You can always ask to see the questions in advance. Some interviewers and companies will be able to this, others may not, but it is worth a try! Arrive early, this will give you time to get used to the surroundings, check your appearance and have one last run over your key messages and facts. Once you have prepared yourself, you need to make sure you need to know the key facts. Know your topic – even take the key facts with you on a card if it is a radio or a print interview. If it is a TV interview, refer to the card immediately before the interview takes place. Know your three key messages – you may have several points to get across but you do not want your main message to be diluted with other points. Experiment with different ways of getting them across. Know other people’s views and consider your response. This is especially important if you are taking part in a multi-person interview or recorded panel discussion. What are others likely to say and how will you get your point across? Do they back you up or counter your own argument? Know your medium – read a copy of the publication that you may be featured in, or watch or listen to the programme. This will help you understand in advance what their bias or focus may be and how they tend to approach stories. Research the audience to ensure you pitch it at the right level and use suitable language. b. Having a successful interview So when actually taking the interview, there are various tips that can make a nervous-experience, a much calmer event. One of the skills to have in an interview is presentation skills (For more details, see “Presentation of skills and rhetoric”). It is important to use your voice effectively. Try and vary your tone, pitch and pace, as not to be too monotonous. Emphasise key words, and speaking slowing and clearly is especially important for radio and TV interviews. Make sure your appearance is presentable. This does not necessarily mean a suit, but being smart will be especially important for the TV or photographs. Be aware of your body movement as well, and try to keep it to a minimum. Think ‘SOLER’: sit Square to the camera or interviewer have and Open body stance Lean towards the interviewer have Eye contact with the interviewer have a Relaxed posture. Also try to maintain a positive image. Allow the interviewer to finish his or her question, even if they interrupted you, and do not show impatience, annoyance or other negative reactions. And of course, remember that even though you may feel nervous, there is no need to be! It is just a chat with someone about an issue that you are interested in. Try to avoid thinking about all the recording equipment and focus on the person and smile and relax! Good technique to remember is to say the most important things first. This is because you never know how long an interview will last. Get your key points

out first. This may even give you the time to repeat your key messages later. Remember the three C’s principle – 1) have confidence in your knowledge. You know your subject better than the journalist and you are probably more in tune with what students think about the chosen issue. 2) Clarity – try to use a clear, conversational style, avoiding the use of jargon and get your three main messages across. 3) Take control of the interview. If you have prepared yourself well and know what you want to say, say it! Do not wait for the journalist to take the story off in a wayward direction. Whatever happens, try not to get flustered or defensive. If you are unsure of the question, it is fine to ask the interviewer to rephrase it and if the interviewer starts to ask questions out of your field of knowledge, do not try to bluff, just be honest! During an interview, you may come across some difficult questions. The best way to deal with these is by being calm, direct and brief. Some journalists may ruffle you so you go off your message and say things you do not really mean, but just try to keep to getting your key messages across. You can always try using the ABC technique: Acknowledge and address the question, do not just ignore it. Let the journalist know that you have understood their question e.g. by saying ‘Yes’, ‘No’, ‘I’m not able to answer that…’ Bridge the question. Once you have addressed it, you need to turn things round to your advantage so that you can get across your key messages e.g. ‘…however, what I can tell you is that…’, ‘Let’s be clear about this…’, ‘…but what is really interesting is…’ This sets up the opportunity to introduce your own points of view. Control and clarity - now you can take the interview where you want it to go. In some cases, if the interview has not been live, you should always make sure that you see the texts or videos before they are broadcasted or released! Your message might get twisted or distorted in a way that harms your work. Journalists seldom have full understanding for all issues and may miss important points. PRESS RELEASES In order to get an interview, you will more than likely have to make the media aware that there is a story to cover and for that you will need to be able to write a press release (please see the template at the back of this Manual). Although press releases can vary depending on the content, there are some general rules, which will make your press release easy to be used by journalists and will look more professional. The following are the most important press release pointers to focus on: · Write the press release on the organisation headed paper if possible. If you do not have this, begin the release with the organisation name, address, telephone number and e-mail address if someone can check it regularly. · Under the heading, type in capitals (preferably in bold and a larger size than you would use for the main content) ‘PRESS AND MEDIA STATEMENT’. · Add the date and time and if you want it to be used immediately, write ‘For IMMEDIATE release’. If you want to delay the publication type ‘EMBARGOED


UNTIL…’ and include the given publication date. ·Give the message a simple headline that will grab the journalists’ attention. ·The first paragraph should include the most important information, answering the questions ‘who’, ‘when’, ‘why’, ‘what’ and ‘how’. Make it as easy as possible for journalists to cut and paste from your press release. ·Type the message with wide margins with wide spacing between the lines (so that journalists can annotate your statement with their own notes). And use a well sized typeface (not less than 12 point). ·If you can fit everything on to a single page you will be doing particularly well, but if not, try not to go over two pages. And at the end of each page, except the last page, write ‘MORE’ to show there is more to the statement. On the last page, type ‘ENDS’, and repeat the contact details. ·Rather than cluttering your main message with secondary detail, it is often better to write a shorter main message and then to add a section headed ‘ADDITIONAL INFORMATION’, which might include information about what your organisation is about; background information to the story; web links; statistics or whatever you find would be supporting information. ·Adding a quotation or two gives life and reality to the story. Quotes should be attributed to particular individuals – get permission from people first before you include it in the release. It is always a good idea to call up news agencies or journalists to find out when is the best time of the week to send press releases, which will increase the likelihood of its being used. At the same time, it provides the opportunity to have some direct contact with the person dealing with the story. Make sure you follow up your press release by calling after you have sent it to check that it has been received (and not gone to junk mail!) HOW TO WRITE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Another way of influencing the public opinion and raising awareness about an issue is to write a letter to the editor. You might feel that media is not covering an issue that is important for you and for the work of your union, or that the media coverage has given wrong picture of an issue and that you have to react on this. The letters to the editor section of your local/national newspaper is an ideal forum for getting your message to all its readers. The letters to the editor section is read by most of the readers, ranging from your grandmother and your teachers to local politicians. A published letter to the editor shows that an issue matters to the community and might thus be the start of a debate. Unfortunately the newspapers receive more letters than they are able to publish. This means that they have to select the ones they are publishing, and that your letter is competing with all other letters. Here come a few tips on how to make sure your letter gets printed: The first step is to identify the issue of concern. It goes without saying that texts about pressing issues are more likely to be published. On the other hand, if your text is well-written you can be the one drawing the readers’ attention to a certain issue. You can also use a certain event, such as writing about the

rights of the students on the 17th of November, the International Day of Students. Try to deal with one issue per letter and focus on presenting a couple of arguments in favour of your case. Be short and concise. Think about how you read the newspaper – most people start by reading short texts. Make sure that the structure of the letter is logical and easy to follow. A basic model is: -

Present the issue State your opinion Argue in favour of your opinion Present your proposal of what to do (if you have one) Finish with a brief conclusion, restating your opinion

Make sure that your arguments are anchored to a wider context – it gives them more weight. You can also refer to facts and figures. If your letter is a reaction on something that was earlier published in the newspaper, make sure there is a clear reference to the text in question and that you react within a couple of days. Proofread the letter carefully when it is written. Check the language and the grammar. It might also be good to ask someone external to read it through in order to check if people not familiar with the issue get your message and if the arguments make sense. Most newspapers have the right to edit letters to the editor. Make sure that you give them your contact details when sending them the letter, so that they can contact you if they have questions. So now you are equipped with the tips and techniques you need for successful media-handling – go out and advertise your organisation, your event and your views!


CONCLUSION We hope this Manual has been of some help in the very exciting and important work you, the school students of Europe, do in your unions. We both hope it has bred some new student activity as well as brought some new perspectives to your ongoing struggle for improving the students’ situation. Our hope is that there will be more and more organisations in Europe which will give voice to the school students and which will promote participation, democracy and active citizenship inside and outside schools. Of course we do not think that we have provided you with all the knowledge you need for this adventure. We know that Europe with its diverse background and different realities demand different solutions. However, we hope that our contribution will be one step on the way of your journey to a better school and society. This book is based on ideas and examples from the school student unions in Europe channelled through their European platform for cooperation OBESSU. In your work you build up a lot of experience and good practices which we hope you are interested in sharing with all our member and observer organisations on the European level in the future. Good luck and see you soon! OBESSU


ANNEX In this annex you will ďŹ nd different documents and examples that are interesting and inspiring for school student activism but for some reason do not ďŹ t into the basic structure of this Manual. ANNEX 1. SWOT-Analysis 2. Example statutes of a local school student union 3. Declaration of the Rights of the Child

108 110 113

1. SWOT-ANALYSIS The SWOT-Analysis (Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threads) is a tool coming from the strategic management and is also used for formative evaluations and quality-improvement-programmes, especially in the education sector. In this easy and really exible method, the strengths and weaknesses within the organisation as also the extern opportunities and threats that affect the actions of the organisation are analysed. Out of this analysis of strengths/ weakness and opportunities/threads it is possible to develop a overall strategy for further line up of the organisation and also just analyse the factors of one single project in order to improve it. The method is really useful when it comes to decision making both if you are the one making the decision or if you are coaching or aiding someone to analyze the situation. The SWOT-Model in a Matrix view The SWOT-Model may be presented in a Matrix as follows:


Internal Analysis Strengths External Opportuniti S->O Strategies: Pursue new Analysis es possibilities which could match well with strengths of the union Threats


S->T Strategies: Use strengths to avert threats

Weaknesses W->O Strategies: Eliminate weaknesses to be able to use new possibilities W->T Strategies: To develop defence not to let present weaknesses being the target of external threats.

Procedure 1.

2. 3.


b. c. d.

Internal Analysis: Search for strengths and weaknesses of your organi sation. You may do this globally but mostly it is better to face one part of the organisation you like to change as an example the « General Assembly ». Look what is well done and strong and what you find weak that needs to be improved. External Analysis: Face with your project or your idea to improve the part analysed from an outer view and list up opportunities and threats. Now try to maximize the gain of strengths and opportunities and minimize the lost within weaknesses and threats. Hereto we search for the following combinations and think about what initiatives, measures and changes may be made out of it. S->O Combination: Which strengths fit to which opportunities? How could strengths be used to get the most out of the opportunities? S->T Combination: Which threats may we face with which strengths? How can we use the forces to avert a certain threat? W->O Combination: Where may your weaknesses result in an opportunity? How could weaknesses develop into strengths? W->T Combination: Where are our weaknesses and how can we protect us from threats? Are there any big threats where the organisation is already weak?

More strength may be absolutely used to realize one opportunity or avoid one thread. The biggest danger to treat is where weaknesses are exposed directly to a threat. After making a strategy that improves the situation you could go on with SWOT-analysing the strategy.

2. EXAMPLE STATUTES OF A LOCAL SCHOOL STUDENT UNION The statutes/constitution of the union is the laws and rules of the organisation. They exist to give guidance and to simplify the work. Remember that the statutes have no purpose of their own. They should not be used for manipulation or in any other way corrupt the democracy. Regulations that do not simplify the work of the organisation should be abolished. § 1 The Organisation mom 1 The organisation is named ”The school student union of X”. mom 2 The organisation is seated in X. § 2 The organisation purpose mom 1 The union purpose is to improve the school students’ situation in a way supported by the majority of the students. More specific this means: · · · · ·

Protect and promote Protect and promote Protect and promote tal interests Protect and promote Protect and promote

the basic school students’ rights the school students’ educational interests the school students’ working environmen the school students’ economic interests the school students’ social interests

§ 3 Members mom 1 Students studying at school X can become member of the organisation by signing the membership. A student needs to be member of the union to participate in events or use services provided by the union. mom 4 Members elect a representative from their class that represents the view of the members in that class. Each class has one vote. §4 the committees Mom 1 Members of the union can form committees for any projects and activities they want to organise that does not directly conflict with the will of the


members of the union. §5 The board mom 1 The purpose of the board The board is responsible for: · Preparing and inviting the members to the General Assembly. · Execute the decisions of the General Assembly · Making decisions that cannot wait until the next General Assem bly. · Representing the will of the members towards the head teacher, the teachers, politicians, other organisations, and etc. · The general administration of the union and its economy. mom 2 The positions in the Board The board should have an odd number of members. The exact number is decided by the General Assembly. At minimum the following positions should exist: · -

President Responsible for organising the General Assemblies and the Board meetings.

· -

Secretary Responsible for documentation and archiving protocols, reports and other written materials of the union. Responsible for spreading information to the people who should be informed.

· -

Cashier Responsible for the union economy, reports and documentation. Responsible for writing the annual union financial report.

mom 3 Election of the Board The Board is elected on the union General Assembly for a period of one year. §6 The General Assembly mom 1 The General Assembly should meet at least once every semester. mom 2 At the General Assembly every class has one vote. Mom 3 The General Assembly is the union highest decision making body. §7 Regulations for meetings mom 1 Protocols should be written for all union meetings. The protocol should be written and accessible for the members at latest two weeks after

the meeting. mom 2 All of the unions protocols should be archived and make out a base for the unions annual activity report. mom 3 The invitation to all meetings should be available to the members at least 5 school days prior to the meeting. mom 4 An agenda and other documents such as proposals, reports, and etc. should be available to the members at least 5 school days prior to the meeting. §8 Right to withdrawal mom 1 The cashier and the president of the union have the right to withdraw money. They should draft a financial report and communicate it the General Assembly. §9 Changing the statutes mom 1 The statutes may be changed on the General Assembly with 2/3 majority.


3. Declaration of the Rights of the Child INTRODUCTION The Declaration of the Rights of the Child has been ratiďŹ ed by almost all Governments in the world. However, they sometimes need to be reminded of their commitment to follow this declaration. This can sometimes be a powerful tool for the school student unions when our rights are violated. Proclaimed by General Assembly Resolution 1386 (XIV) of 20 November 1959 Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have, in the Charter, reafďŹ rmed their faith in fundamental human rights and in the dignity and worth of the human person, and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, Whereas the United Nations has, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaimed that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth therein, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, Whereas the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth, Whereas the need for such special safeguards has been stated in the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child of 1924, and recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the statutes of specialized agencies and international organizations concerned with the welfare of children, Whereas mankind owes to the child the best it has to give, Now therefore, THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY Proclaims this Declaration of the Rights of the Child to the end that he may have a happy childhood and enjoy for his own good and for the good of society the rights and freedoms herein set forth, and calls upon parents, upon men and women as individuals, and upon voluntary organizations, local authorities and national Governments to recognize these rights and strive for their observance by legislative and other measures progressively taken in accordance with the following principles: Principle 1 The child shall enjoy all the rights set forth in this Declaration. Every child, without any exception whatsoever, shall be entitled to these rights, without distinction or discrimination on account of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other sta-

tus, whether of himself or of his family. Principle 2 The child shall enjoy special protection, and shall be given opportunities and facilities, by law and by other means, to enable him to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity. In the enactment of laws for this purpose, the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration. Principle 3 The child shall be entitled from his birth to a name and a nationality. Principle 4 The child shall enjoy the beneďŹ ts of social security. He shall be entitled to grow and develop in health; to this end, special care and protection shall be provided both to him and to his mother, including adequate pre-natal and post-natal care. The child shall have the right to adequate nutrition, housing, recreation and medical services. Principle 5 The child who is physically, mentally or socially handicapped shall be given the special treatment, education and care required by his particular condition. Principle 6 The child, for the full and harmonious development of his personality, needs love and understanding. He shall, wherever possible, grow up in the care and under the responsibility of his parents, and, in any case, in an atmosphere of affection and of moral and material security; a child of tender years shall not, save in exceptional circumstances, be separated from his mother. Society and the public authorities shall have the duty to extend particular care to children without a family and to those without adequate means of support. Payment of State and other assistance towards the maintenance of children of large families is desirable. Principle 7 The child is entitled to receive education, which shall be free and compulsory, at least in the elementary stages. He shall be given an education which will promote his general culture and enable him, on a basis of equal opportunity, to develop his abilities, his individual judgement, and his sense of moral and social responsibility, and to become a useful member of society. The best interests of the child shall be the guiding principle of those responsible for his education and guidance; that responsibility lies in the ďŹ rst place with his parents. The child shall have full opportunity for play and recreation, which should be directed to the same purposes as education; society and the public authorities shall endeavour to promote the enjoyment of this right.


Principle 8 The child shall in all circumstances be among the ďŹ rst to receive protection and relief. Principle 9 The child shall be protected against all forms of neglect, cruelty and exploitation. He shall not be the subject of trafďŹ c, in any form. The child shall not be admitted to employment before an appropriate minimum age; he shall in no case be caused or permitted to engage in any occupation or employment which would prejudice his health or education, or interfere with his physical, mental or moral development. Principle 10 The child shall be protected from practices which may foster racial, religious and any other form of discrimination. He shall be brought up in a spirit of understanding, tolerance, friendship among peoples, peace and universal brotherhood, and in full consciousness that his energy and talents should be devoted to the service of his fellow men.



MINUTE-TEMPLATE What meeting (Fairlam School student union): Date and Time: Venue: Minutes written by: Present: Apologies: Agenda Item Discussion Action Points Who When 1. (led by chairperson? Deputy chairperson?) 2. 3. 4.


Date of next meeting:

Agenda Item 1. (led by chairperson? Deputy chairperson?) 2. 3. 4. 5.



Action Points



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