What do we learn from student voice

On Friday I went up to Stockport Academy to find out how they are using their school council to help make some rapid improvements in their school. I was asked to speak about why student voice is important and so I focused on the learning that comes through student voice. It’s a favourite topic of mine as I think it’s something that’s often forgotten. Many schools measure the success of their school council, or other student voice structures, by the number of projects they complete, rather than what students learn by completing them.

As part of this I asked the staff and students from Stockport Academy and the 10 or so other United Learning schools that were there what they think their students can or do learn through their involvement with student voice. I gave them three headings, ‘Skills’, ‘About school’ and ‘About society’. These are their answers:

What skills we learn through student voice

What we learn about school from student voice

What we learn about society from student voice

When we started to discuss these one of the teachers pointed out that the learning about school and about society were pretty interchangeable. I was glad that she pulled that out, because really that’s the point. If we can create school environments that give students responsibility, encourage them to think critically and challenge them to effect change we’re likely to help them do the same in wider society. The reverse is also true.

So what kind of people do you want your school to produce? Are these aspirations universal, or just for some of your students? What training, support and systems do you put in place to allow all students to develop these skills and learn about their society?

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