Within Ruskin Mill Trust Schools, we have a whole school commitment to Student voice; listening to the views, wishes and experiences of all children and young people.
In democratic societies, children and young people have the right to be heard and not to feel afraid to express themselves. We place value on what children and young people tell school staff about their experiences.
Learning about human rights and democracy is a fundamental first step for becoming an informed and responsible citizen.
Student voice is the right of students to have a say in matters that affect them in their schools, and to have their views and opinions taken seriously. It encompasses all aspects of school life and decision-making where young learners are able to make a meaningful contribution, adapted to their age and stage of development. It stretches from informal situations in which students express an opinion to their peers or staff members to participation in democratic structures or mechanisms, such as student parliaments and consultations.
Student voice can vary from simple self-expression to taking on a leadership role in an aspect of school life:
- Expression – voice an opinion
- Consultation – asked for an opinion
- Participation – attend and preferably play an active role in a meeting
- Partnership – have a formal role in decision-making
- Activism – identify a problem, propose a solution, and advocate its adoption
- Leadership – plan and make decisions
Within our Curriculum we provide many opportunities for students to be involved in discussion and decision making, Ensuring that we:
- take students’ age, maturity and understanding into account when deciding how to support them in participating
- Find ways to involve those who lack confidence. For example, organise smaller group discussions, 1:1 and surveys to capture the view of a wider pool of students.
Our School Councils offer students the chance to represent their peers through regular meetings. It allows students the opportunity to be heard and gives an insight into how students experience daily life in school, like learning and socialising.
To ensure our school councils are effective we ask students to work with senior leaders in embedding ideas and implementing the changes that the school council agrees. For example, including objectives or actions within the school improvement plan where appropriate, include student presentations to the board of trustees, inviting students to lesson observations and involving students in recruitment.
Student voice staff leads and contact details:
Alastair Burtt – Alastair.Burtt@clervaux.org.uk