There are lots of ways that pupils can get involved in decision making at school. Pupil councils, school votes, giving feedback to teachers, having a say in how the school is run and what you learn. But why does pupil participation matter?
Here are 3 reasons why pupils should have a voice at school:
1.It’s your right!
As a young person, you have the right to have a say in decisions that affect you. That is just one of a long list of rights set out in an international law 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). Basically, it’s a list of promises to young people to listen to you, keep you safe, look after you and treat you fairly.
2. Participate + listened to + included = ‘Do well’.
The team at the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland came up with this nifty way of putting it after talking to over 130 pupils from 7 schools around Scotland: “Being listened to, actively included in school life and decision making and feeling respected is key to helping young people do well at school”.
When pupils get the chance to share their views then the Commissioner’s research shows that this helps you do well at school, because you feel more respected and included. “It makes you more confident ’cause you speak out” as one pupil put it. Another pupil said that at their school “there’s a really high level of mutual respect, that 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.” Getting on with your teacher seemed really important to pupils feeling able to speak out: “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”.
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 their pupils that schools can work out what is best for each and every one of you. As one young person who took part in the research put it: “pupil involvement that the school gives us and responsibility….not just at the pupil council…it’s every single pupil”.
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. “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”.
So that’s it! Three good reasons you can’t argue with….
What are your experiences (good or bad) of having a say at school? We’d love to hear from you.