When pupils feel listened to, respected and included in school life, they’re more likely to do well at school

What is pupil participation?

speaker phonePupil participation is about having the chance to make your voice heard at school and get involved in decisions that affect your learning and well-being. Some examples of pupil participation are pupil councils; school votes; helping plan the support you need; and having a say in how the school is run. But why is it so important for pupils to have a voice at school?

3 reasons why pupil participation matters:

1.It’s your right!

As a young person, you have the right to to be listened to and taken seriously when decisions are made that affect you. This right is recognised in an international human rights treaty that almost every country in the world is signed up to. It’s got a long name: the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (the UNCRC for short). The UNCRC is basically like a list of  promises to young people to listen to you, keep you safe, look after you and treat you fairly.

In Scotland, the law says that at school you have the right to be listened to and involved in decisions made about the support you need to get the most out of your education. You can find out more about these rights here. 

3 pupils with children's rights flags in background

Some of your rights are about making sure you feel supported, listened to and involved in decisions at school. Check out www.reach.scot/my-rights

2. Participate + listened to + included = ‘Do well’.

Being listened to and actively included in school life and decision making helps you do well at school, because you feel more respected and included.

When over 130 pupils from 7 schools around Scotland were asked by The Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland why they thought pupil participation was important, here are some of the things they said:

  1. “It makes you more confident ’cause you speak out”
  2. “[At our school] there’s a really high level of mutual respect – pupils listen to the teachers, but the teachers listen and value the pupils’ points of view and things to say, so it makes you more confident and you’re open with your ideas.”
  3. The good relationship with the teacher makes you feel comfortable asking for extra help. Because sometimes it can seem a wee bit daunting especially when you’re in a classroom”.
Young person speaking to a grown up at school

Did you know you can get help to use your voice at school? Check out www.reach.scot/rights/help-me-to-have-my-say

3. No one else can think about what makes school work well in the way you can.

No one else has the ideas that you have or can think the way that you think. Your words and your thoughts are unique, just like you. It’s only by listening to ALL pupils that schools can work out what is best for each and every one of you.

You are never too young to use your voice to speak up about stuff that you care about. And you can use your voice to make a difference to other people at school too.  As one pupil put it:”We’re more aware of the problems in the school than the teachers. They can’t see it from a pupil point of view. The same as we can’t see it from a teacher point of view”. 

Got a story to share about school? Or any tips for pupils having a hard time? Get in touch with us to have your say on Reach. 


Want more info on your rights listed in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child? 

The quotes in this post came from the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland report How Young People’s Participation in School Supports Achievement and Attainment.