Getting started with students

CPD Nr.: 
Developed by: 
National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, (NCCA) Ireland
Purpose of the material: 

To deepen participants understanding of the rationale for student voice at the centre of learning and school life. 

To develop a shared understanding of student voice and how it can be supported in schools.


ICT equipment: Overhead projector and screen

Prompt slides for discussion (see attached)

Wifi (optional)


Post-its (optional)

Student statements on A4

Coloured dots

Teacher statement template


This workshop can be used for approximately 30/40 students and teachers, with one teacher per approximately 8 students. It can be run within a school or across schools. At times students are grouped together while at other times students and teachers will be grouped together. The workshop itself attempts to model good practice in activating and developing voice throughout a learning session. Therefore, it is very experiential and centres largely on discussion.

Step 1: Agree ways of working (establish norms)

Groups: Mix of students and teachers at tables


The session will involve discussion, movement, thinking time and place changing. With that in mind, invite participants to think about what they need to have in place to work effectively and respectfully together in groups during the session.

After they’ve had some thinking time, invite participants to log onto, enter the relevant code, and share their ideas.

The facilitator collates the responses and the whole group agrees norms or ways of working for the session.


Note: this step could take place with no where participants use post-its and share their responses by displaying their post-it response on a common wall for all to see.


Step 2: Activate prior knowledge and personal concerns/interests

Groups: As before


Invite the participants to think about a series of prompt questions (slides attached) and then discuss their thoughts with the other people at their tables.

  • Why is student voice important?
  • Where are students’ voices heard in school?
  • Whose voices are heard in school?
  • When are students voices most likely to be heard?

Step 3: Deepen understanding through research rationale

Groups: As before


Research and theory of the rationale for student voice is shared with the participants and the floor is opened for a discussion.


Step 4: Deepen understanding through experiential session of activating student voice

Groups: Teachers and students grouped separately in their respective groups


  • Individual A4 statements are put up on the wall of the room. These statements concern students’ experience of school and there is an image of a temperature gauge on the side.
  • Students are invited to read the statements stuck on the wall. They are each given a series of sticky dots and they are asked to position their dot on the temperature gauge to reflect the extent to which they feel this statement is true of their experience of school.
  • To protect the anonymity of the students voicing their thoughts through the placing of the dot on the statement, teachers are asked to do the same activity but, on a template, they have been given. Teachers are asked to imagine or best project the response students in their class might give to the statements before them.
  • Once students and teachers have completed their respective tasks they all have a few moments to reflect on the visual display of students experience of school life.    


Step 4: Deepen understanding through unpacking the statements

Groups: Mix of students and teachers at tables.


Teachers and students engage in a table discussion around focused questions.

  • Consider reasons why the response is positive/negative.
  • Would this response be the same for all students?
  • What advice would you give a school to improve any of this?


Step 5: Planning next steps


Using the research and rationale from earlier. Teachers and students form the same school are invited to spend some time discussing the key points and within the context of their own unique school context, they are asked to rank order the rationale in order of priority for their school. Once they have this completed, they begin to etch out their next steps in the following way,


  • What opportunities already exist?
  • What supports will you need?
  • What action do you need to take?


Step 6: Reflection Point

In order to model good practice in student voice the session ends with a reflection point.

  • What worked well today?

Even better if……

How you can use this material in your practice: 

This workshop can be facilitated in discrete class groups, representative student groups and also with teachers as part of the group.  This workshop could also be faciliated and lead by students,  Students may find it helpful to have experienced the workshop in the first instance and they can also be encourage to change the format if they believe it will work better that way.


This material reflects only the author’s view; the Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.