During one of my most memorable annual review meetings, our fourth grader sat down (at his request) to a “good breakfast tea” and a whole wheat biscuit, and I took on the role of scribe. as he led the meeting.

He told me, his teacher, his father, and his speech therapist exactly what worked for him and what didn’t, and how he would achieve his future goals with our help. This child typically withdraws completely from education, but with gentle encouragement he has taken full responsibility for his learning journey and is thriving.

Student voice is a powerful tool not only for improving learning outcomes, but also for improving the quality of teaching. When used correctly, student voice can provide personalized support, increased engagement and motivation, and a truly inclusive learning environment.Who better than students themselves to tell us how they learn best and help us interpret their world?

It is also their right. Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states: “Every child has the right to express his opinions, feelings and wishes in all matters affecting him and to have his views taken into account and taken seriously.” »

Plan an effective student engagement strategy using the following ideas:

Question your motivations.
Step One: Ask yourself: Why are you collecting your students’ opinions?


Is it because you really want to implement your ideas, or is it an exercise to lead them to an outcome that you have already decided on?

Unfortunately, many student vocal exercises are symbolic or do not require real collaboration. You won’t see the same benefits if your logic isn’t authentic. So it’s worth making the effort to question your goal before designing your strategy.

When I became a Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo), I asked students for their opinions using a series of prepared questions to add to their annual assessment materials. Ultimately, the adults made all the decisions for them. By changing the process to allow students to take an active role in planning and conducting assessments, their engagement increased and we saw significantly better results as a result.

Integrating Student Participation into the General School Culture
One of the most effective ways to enable meaningful participation is to provide students with regular speaking training from an early age.

You can start with simple things like inviting the children to the reception to help them plan the next class meeting. Therefore, responsibilities may increase as school progresses, but they must provide students with a real opportunity to make a difference.

Your students can express their opinions on every decision that affects them, and their comments might surprise you!

One of my tasks as a teacher was to organize the school’s environmental committee.The Eco School program is a great example of meaningful student engagement. Our students planned an effective school-wide strategy to reduce our environmental impact, personally monitored our impact, planned a full day of environmental activities, and held assemblies. You’ve proven that you can use your voice to influence real, tangible change.

Use other voice recording methods.
Direct questions that require an oral or written answer do not work for all students.

There should be more opportunities for students to contribute their ideas while taking individual needs into account.

“Voice” can refer to all types of communication. This can be done verbally, written, artistically or whatever suits the individual. Tools like rating scales, conversation mats, digital surveys, photos and videos can be helpful ways to share ideas.

All students can share their thoughts and opinions in meaningful ways, regardless of communication differences. They just need to find methods that are effective for them.

For one of our students, who is autistic and selectively mute, creating a Powerpoint presentation for his annual exam was the chosen way to share his voice. He created the slides in advance and added his creativity by embedding YouTube videos and GIFs. He chose not to speak at the meeting, but was happy to come and give us his talk. Although not in a traditional way, we were able to access his thoughts and plan accordingly.

Use your observation

Observation is another useful method for gathering feedback from students.

Children’s behavior and choices can provide insight into their authentic desires and the quality of their experiences, which educators must interpret and understand.


However, it is equally important to be careful about interpretations that may remain hidden from our imagination.

The observations helped me to gain very useful information about the students’ needs. For example, when I observed a student who was not engaged in learning tasks and was behaving disruptively, I noticed that she constantly looked at the classroom door and was surprised every time it opened.Through this observation, we realized that unexpected visitors made her nervous, so we tried moving her to another office and putting up a sign inviting visitors to knock. This immediately changed his commitment to teaching.

School Board Representation
Many schools choose to use school boards to involve students in school-level decision-making.

The literature suggests that some students valued this group environment, while others viewed the consultation negatively, particularly in cases where they were excluded from the discussion or participation was perceived as insincere or superficial.

It is important to ensure that the school board truly represents the school community and to establish a clear communication structure so that all voices are heard.

Your school’s SENCo or Inclusion Leader can help you plan a council that is inclusive, open to diverse voices and for everyone.

In summary, harnessing the power of student voice is critical to creating an inclusive and empowering learning environment. By questioning our logic, engaging students in school culture, using alternative methods to capture voices, leveraging observations, and ensuring true representation on the school board, we can ensure that all students are heard and valued. By recognizing the value of student voice, we can promote greater engagement, motivation and better learning outcomes for all students.

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