Student Voice international conference

The final conference of ‘Student Voice: the Bridge to Learning’ project was held in Edinburgh, on 28th May 2019. The participants of the conference were experts, teachers and headteachers coming from the five partner countries, Hungary, Ireland, Netherlands, Scotland and Sloveina.
Wednesday, May 29, 2019 - 08:00

Alan Amstrong, director of Education Scotland welcomed the participants, mentioning that Student Voice can be a catalyst toward change in education systems. After his words Nick Morgan (Education Scotland) spoke about the aims of the project. Jenny Watson, a headteacher of a primary school spoke about the experiences of Student Voice at primary level. She also presented the most important features of the Scottish apprach: the four targets, around which it is organised: successful learners, effective contributors, responsible citizens, and confident individuals.

In the next section of the program the representatives of the participating countries reported - in ABC order - about their approaches, activities and results

The first presentation was held by Anna Imre (OFI, Hungary), she reported on the aims of the project - personalised learning and paradigm change of teacher work - the different activities the Hungarian team accomplished (e.g. research in the three partner schools, development of a teacher training material, organising a conference for teachers). At the end of her account she also mentioned a few possibilities for using the experiences in the future.

Ger O’Sullivan (NCCA) spoke about the Irish initiations in relation to Student Voice. In Ireland the NCCA facilitate the attainment of Student Voice in schools with strong support of the educational government. They also try to encourage change ’at the floor of the ocean’ by experimental methodology. The Student Voice approach is connected to the reform of the Junior cycle in Ireland, linked to different topics (e.g. well-being, school self-evaluation), but they also organise consultation with students in 41 schools at senior cycle.

From the Netherlands a head teacher (Kor Posthumus) gave a lecture about the present state of Student Voice project. In the Netherlands new ideas typically come not from the education government, but from the institutional level, the school boards. In the Netherlands the topic of Student Voice is connected to an important trend, to civic education at present. Jeroen Bron (SLO) added that in the project they worked with 5 schools, The results of the project will have only moderate impact on educational policy.

Civic education and democratic skills stand in the middle of the Scottish approach too – said Ann Robertson, (East Lothian Council). The ambitions of the project get strong support from the education government, schools will have to meet formal expectations too in the future in this respect. In Scotland 2 organisations were involved in the SV project, they worked with 3 schools. In the 3 schools different aims and activities were developed. In the first school the transformation of student councils stood in the middle, in the other a Junior Leadership Team was organised, focusing mainly/partly on teaching and learning issues. The third school organised student committees with thematic focus.  Within the new frameworks new activities were developed (e.g. teacher compliment scheme, helping transition between levels, health and ecological question, etc.).

The Slovenian team (two experts and teachers, headteachers) reported about their Slovenian results. During the Student Voice project they put four areas into the centre of their activities: classroom level processes, learning, teacher-student relationship, and learning environment). They illustrated their approach by a drawing of a tree, the trunk of the tree symbolized the teachers, the branches and leaves symbolized the students.

The participants coming from educational institutions (a head teacher, an art teacher) reported on the processes at the institutional level (e.g. forming Bridge teams) and the process of changing they experienced during the project from their own side, from the side of the students and in relation of learning and teaching processes. They also reported on the students’ final, positive reflexions in relation to the Student Voice project.