- How Good is Our School
- Learner participation in Educational Settings
This material provides a model which explores how one secondary school in East Lothian Council, Scotland (Musselburgh Grammar School) developed learner voice, leadership and participation in their school leading to the pupils hosting and organising the national education forum with the Minister for Education.
This material aims to:
- Demonstrate how pupils can effectively engage in Pupil Voice leading to a feeling of being valued and respected
- Identify a process used to engage pupils in the planning, research & leading of a large scale event where pupil voice can be taken into account to effect change
- Exemplar - research undertaken by pupils to create a Powerpoint used in the meeting of the Scottish Education Council
- The school was asked to hold a Scottish Education Council Meeting, where pupils were asked to set the agenda and lead the meeting. This was the first time that pupils have ever been asked to participate in this event. Members of the meeting included the The Deputy First Minister for Scotland, Heads of the Regional Collaborative (Local Authorities), Chief Executive of the SQA, The General Secretary of the EIS, National Parent Forum Chair & the Chief Inspector of Education
- The emphasis was on pupils taking ownership and giving them the confidence to set and lead discussion of agenda items that were important and relevant to them and their education.
The preparation allowed for pupils to understand the processes and principles that are followed to successfully develop abilities to lead and engage in meaningful debate at a high level.
- Lead Teachers met with the four most Senior Leaders (Head Boy/Girl, Deputy Head/Boy Girl). Senior Leaders were asked to discuss, nominate and select names of pupils who they felt would be strong candidates to take part in this meeting (names from the Junior & Senior Pupil Councils). Questions to consider: Who is good at voicing rational opinion? Who can listen effectively? Who is calm under pressure? Who can show initiative and commitment? How can a range of year groups be represented?
- Identified pupils were asked if they wished to participate
- The agenda for the meeting was decided by pupils - Pupils considered items that were important to not just them, but their peers and all items had either been points of discussion from Pupil Council meetings and/or items they felt were most relevant within school/education at the time
- Research of the 3 chosen items was undertaken - these were researched by pupils from both school and National perspectives. Pupils split themselves up into 3 groups according to their personal area of interest, with each group responsible for an agenda item. Methods of research included the Internet and talking with relevant staff.
- Lead Teachers arranged for pupils to meet with School Staff who were responsible for the relevant areas, to ask questions, reflect upon and gain greater knowledge & understanding of each area
- From their research, powerpoint presentations were created by pupils - this was to have points of reference and visuals for delegates
- As a group, the pupils decided on which of them would lead each agenda item.
- Building skills regarding presentations, speaking in public and debate took place. These included:
- Importance of clear presentation
- Using concise and relevant points, not having too much information on visuals
- How to address delegates
- Speech - speaking clearly, use of voice, how to pose questions, how to listen and respond to questioning, using open questioning to further debate, speaking without hesitating, pausing before answering, particularly on a point not agreed with
- Presentation practise took place - each group speaking in front of other groups several times prior to the meeting. Evaluation and discussion of presentations between pupils took place. Strengths & weaknesses identified and changes/improvements discussed and made as necessary.
- Senior Team Leaders delegated jobs within their wider House Teams. They identified those with key skills to fit jobs required on the day ie those to ‘meet and greet’ etc
- Blog written by one of the pupils attending the event for the Scottish Government website:
The process and materials can be used at secondary school level as a basis for supporting pupils in taking an active role in preparation for a formal meeting presentation. The process outlined gives opportunity for pupil autonomy, greater engagement and encouragement of active participation of those involved.