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Student Voice

Author Topic: Student Voice  (Read 1765 times)

fortyleven

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Student Voice
« on: July 17, 2009, 08:07:27 AM »
I know this isn't necessarily a Geography topic, but I thought I'd ask people for their responses...

I have just been asked to be in charge of Whole School Student Voice next year. So...

1. Has anyone else taken on this responsibility before and what did they do?
2. Does anyone have something I might be able to use or some good practise of student voice in school?
3. How do I sustain student voice so that it remains worthwhile and effective?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks

GeoDave

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Re: Student Voice
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2009, 11:18:25 AM »
Student Voice only works in any meaningful way if there is 100% support from SMT and a willingness from senior management for students to be involved in all aspects of school life - then the sky is the limit! The whole exercise is totally pointless if students are forced i.e. we must have two students from every form from every year group, to sit on a school council that no-one listens to. Better to start with a small number number of genuinely keen students, preferably from a range of years.

Where Student Voice works effectively, the students are genuinely involved in:

a) School appearance and design
b) Uniform decisions
c) Staff appointments
d) Daily routines and rules of behaviour
e) Rewards and sanctions
f) Curriculum change and curriculum planning
g) Student services - catering, health, etc, etc
h) Learning Walks
i) Learning Outside the Classroom
j) Health and Safety
k) Quality of teaching
and more...

It must never be a case of students building unrealistic 'wish lists' but of students being involved in the decision making processes of school life and although uncomfortable at times, of the school genuinely listening to their ideas and opinions. The students need to understand at the same time that their ideas/opinions have to be balanced against staff ideas/opinions, budgets, local authority regulations, etc. It is a really useful part of them becoming 'active citizens', a key strand of the new secondary curriculum.

Good luck - few schools do it well, but where it does work well, it does make a real difference to the life of the school. I would suggest that a critical part of starting the process is an early meeting between yourself and headteacher/SMT to clarify boundaries and desired outcomes (aim for no boundaries!).

[There may well be many people who are thinking it would be good to have Teacher Voice in their particular school..... :D]
Geographer

Blue Square Thing

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Re: Student Voice
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2009, 12:43:21 PM »
Agree with Dave - good luck; it's not a job I'd take in a million years :)
I loved the words you wrote to me/But that was bloody yesterday

stevenreader

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Re: Student Voice
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2009, 02:07:46 PM »
Student voice is something I believe is that is only beneficial to schools. We have online surveys via moodle that provide us with feedback as a department. We publish these results yearly to show that we listen and respond to ideas.

We also use 'leadership' groups in selected areas:-

Sports Leaders
Language Leaders
Literacy Leaders
Music Leaders
and my responsiblity Humanities leaders.

Most of these run in what we call enrichment time that runs from 3-4pm on a Tuesday (the other days we finish at 3pm). It is important to give these developments time in the timetable. You should not be expected to dvelop pupil voice in lunchbreaks etc...

Each group run different ideas for example there are accredited courses for leadership in Sport and Languages. I am hoping to work with Youth Sport Trust to develop the humanities leaders onto an accredited course over the next two years (we are a specialist sports high school). At the moment my young leaders in humanities observe teachers in our department teach and provide them with feedback. This is after training and staff have volunteered to be observed.

A few other things that we have done are...

Year and school councils that have time off timetable to meet and the discussions are recorded as they would be in a staff meeting.
We also use pupils in staff interviews.
We have included them in whole school decisions for example a move to vertical tutoring

I have heard of examples where pupils take on staff roles for one day, I'm not sure if that would work well where I work but it's something that has also been done.

Hope that helps?

stevenreader

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Re: Student Voice
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2009, 02:11:54 PM »
I should also add that this initiative was also designed to involve the pupils in the decision making process for our rewards system.

http://www.kent20in12.org.uk/case-studies/hayesbrook.php

Cheers,


Time for a summer holiday now!

kevincooper777

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Re: Student Voice
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2009, 07:42:45 PM »
I believe in 'student voice' with a passion.  I think it would be fair to say that the biggest positive impact on my own teaching has been feedback from students - the ones who really know (a) what you are really like day-to-day, rather than in a 'showpiece' observed lesson; (b) what the other teachers in the school are really like, and hence what really works with them, in your context. 

As implied by GeoDave and others, I would say that the ATTITUDE to student voice is crucial - imho, to really work well, it has to be that at least you as the co-ordinator, and preferably the head / SMT, have to believe that they will have things to say that can genuinely improve the school.  If it is simply tokenism, in order to tick a box, to be seen to be 'doing student voice', it will have limited value.

On the other hand, I believe it is also imperative that the students go about it with real humility, and respect for the incredibly difficult job that teachers (and particularly SMT) have.  They have to learn to suggest things with sensitivity, especially where one or more people could take their suggestion as a criticism - being criticised by your boss, or by an inspector is bad enough.  Suggesting things with an attitude of appreciation and respect is more important than following some 'management technique' - but nonetheless teaching them about a "sh*t sandwich" might be useful in this context...

I've sent you an e-mail with some stuff from an MBA assignment I did which touched on student voice, just in case you are having difficulty getting to sleep at night...!