What is student voice?
Student voice allows students to have a say about what goes on at their school and be active participants in the school community. Student voice helps students to participate in and contribute to a number of processes at school, including:
- decision making in a variety of areas like curriculum planning and school community values
- forming a student-led Action Team to research and develop strategies to improve the school community
- providing feedback about teaching and learning at the school.
Generally, the higher the level of student participation, the more meaningful it is to students.
Why is it important for students to have a voice at school?
Young people spend a lot of time at school. After the family, school has the most significant influence on child development, so making students’ time at school enjoyable and worthwhile supports their mental health and wellbeing. Part of this process involves supporting students to be active contributors to their own learning. The sense of belonging, positive relationships and improved self-esteem achieved when children are active contributors in their school community, are significant protective factors that support their mental health and wellbeing now and in the future.
While listening to student voice is important, research shows that the benefits for students do not come from just hearing their own voices; it is more about how other people (students, teachers, schools) respond to students’ voices and work with them to make ideas come to life. In other words, the opportunities for students to participate in shaping their experiences at school must be real rather than simulated