Developing the pupil voice falls under the four capacities of the Curriculum for Excellence, helping young people to become Successful Learners, Confident Individuals, Responsible Citizens and Effective Contributors. Specifically, it looks at developing the attributes and capacities of making reasoned evaluations, secure values and beliefs, developing and communicating beliefs and a commitment to participate responsibly in the life of the school.
Although primarily funded to work with Scotland's colleges and universities, we in sparqs have explored the common ground that the student voice in tertiary education has with the pupil voice in schools. This has included collaboration with Education Scotland, local authorities and individual schools on various initiatives to empower pupils to shape their learning as part of the four capacities above.
At a sector policy level we share practice between schools and tertiary education, are a part of (and have presented at) Education Scotland's Rights and Participation Network formed of professionals in and supporting the schools sector, and have contributed to the General Teaching Council Scotland's COPAC (Code of Professionalism and Conduct) Partner Group.
Young Leaders of Learning
We have worked with Education Scotland to create a programme to empower pupils in both primary and secondary schools to undertake reciprocal visits to explore each other's learning experiences. The programme, drawing on schools policy and sparqs' own course rep training for the tertiary sector, trains pupils to reflect on their learning, plan and host visits from neighbouring school teams, and identify areas for enhancement in partnership with school management. You can read more about the experiences of YLL participants in a 2019 Talking Student Engagement interview.
Originally piloted in Moray Council and rolled out across the north of Scotland, Young Leaders of Learning is now operating in eight local authorities throughout Scotland, using materials developed by Education Scotland in conjunction with sparqs. We remain in contact with Education Scotland and participating local authorities to review and learn from the programme. Participants have commended the high quality training and support materials, the enthusiasm of pupils and staff, and the ways in which pupils have been involved in all aspects of the work from writing outcome reports to meeting with head teachers to discuss enhancements.
sparqs has developed a series of resources aimed at developing the capacity, on a consultative basis, of pupil councils across Scotland. Although pupil councils are not the only way young people at schools can have their voice heard, designing representative systems and training representatives, can add real value to the pupil council of a school.
The package developed by sparqs aimed to develop the capacity of students involved in pupil councils, enabling them to participate more effectively in the public life of the school. However, it is not enough to develop just the pupils themselves, we facilitated a holistic approach to bringing through the pupil voice.
Our development offering encompassed facilitation of meetings between staff and pupils to decide the remit of the council and to iron out issues that had hindered the development of the pupil voice in the past. It also included group training for pupils and professional development for staff. sparqs recognises the central role teachers have in schools, managing not only the curriculum but the welfare and development of their pupils.
We have also worked across schools to develop local authority-wide pupil councils.
Pupil voice in college
Another aspect of our work on pupil voice inhas included the development of the pupil voice in colleges where school pupils are hosted to study particular subjects. Integrating the pupil voice in colleges into established college student representative structures is a challenge which requires co-ordination across the students’ association, the college and the school, as well as with the pupils themselves. We offer development support to colleges looking for develop in this area, as well as facilitation for bringing through the pupil voice in focus groups or representative clusters.
If you wish to discuss our pupil engagement work, please contact Eve Lewis.