In 2008, Ringwood Town Council introduced an initiative whereby Students from Ringwood School, could act as advisors to the Council, very much like Officers would.

Councillors, being more typically from the older sector of the community, could all too often be criticised for being out of touch with young people and this scheme sought to address that.

This was branded ‘madness’ by those who warned that it could result in Councillors and Council business becoming secondary to issues of the younger generation.

The scheme, however, has successfully continued for nearly 10 years, with Ringwood’s Councillors benefitting from a different perspective during debates and the Student Advisors learning about local government and gaining an appreciation of how and why some decisions are made.

More recently the scheme has been reviewed by a Working Party, comprising of Councillors, Officers, Student Advisors and a Ringwood School representative, in order to bring the protocol up to date and suggest improvements.

It made a number of recommendations which included:- provision of additional information and training at the time of appointment (particularly on finance and planning matters), increasing awareness of the scheme through the school leadership team and the reporting of relevant issues, by Student Advisors at the Full Council meeting.

Cllr Rippon-Swaine, who Chaired the Working Party, commented, “The Working Party was an expression of the school, students and councillors in respect of the ongoing success of the very innovative Student Advisor Scheme, which we as a Council heartily endorse and are looking to improve in the coming months”.