Student Engagement Trust

The Student Engagement Trust, or SET,  works with primary and secondary schools, academy groups, and educational organisations in the UK and US to advance student engagement in school and learning.

Our work is based upon our Engagement Model, The Classroom Interaction Model of Student Engagement, and is grounded in research, personal beliefs, and years of professional experience, including teaching, school leadership, resource development, writing and publishing articles, presenting keynote addresses, and leading student leadership and staff professional development.

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Montgomery County Student Alliance

The Montgomery County Student Alliance was a 1,000-member student-led education organizing group in Maryland in the late 1960s and early 1970s.


Formed in early 1969, the Alliance worked to change schools, saying they “presently inhibit students’ individuality, creativity and independent thinking.” They published a report criticizing the school system as rigid and authoritarian and one that “didn’t encourage free inquiry or discussion.”

Alliance members met with employees of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare in neighboring Washington, D.C. as well. That department was the predecessor of the U.S. Department of Education.


The FBI’s COINTELPRO program maintained informants in the Alliance and spied on students as young as 14. No reason for the FBI`s activities was located.

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New York High School Student Union

The New York High School Student Union operated in the late 1960s and early 1970s.


The NY Union worked with hundreds of students statewide to create a list of ten demands for schools.

  1. No suspensions, involuntary transfers, exclusion from classes, detention, harassment of students. Due process for students.
  2. No cops in schools, no narcos, security guards, plain clothesmen, informers.
  3. No program cards, hall checks, ID’s, passes.
  4. An end to commercial and general diplomas, one diploma for every student upon graduation.
  5. Open admissions to colleges, a college education free for everyone who wants one.
  6. Jobs and housing for every student who wants them on graduating, dropping out, or leaving home. The army is not a decent job.
  7. No military recruiting in schools, no military assemblies, literature, no sending names to draft boards or recruiters. An immediate end to the draft.
  8. Black and Latin departments controlled by Black and Latin students.
  9. Community control of the schools and every other community facility. Students are part of the community.
  10. POWER! Student control of curriculum, publications, assemblies, clubs, student government, dress, etc. The right to organize politically.
  11. We support the fifteen points of the Black and Puerto Rican Citywide HS Council.

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  • New York High School Free Press (an underground newspaper), No. 8, reprinted in Birmingham, J. (1970) Our Time Is Now: Notes from the High School Underground. New York: Praeger. p 178.

BC Student Voice

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With the support of the BC Ministry of Education, BCPVPA has helped BC Student Voice grow to represent all regions across the province.


BC Student Voice has placed representatives on provincial Ministry of Education committees and represented student voice at regional and provincial meetings. The program has developed its own vision, mission and goals. Supported by adult advisors, students meet regularly to review provincial education directions, gather support for their various regional initiatives and facilitate developments of school and district student voices.

Twice annually, BC Student Voice hosts forums around the province to give students an opportunities to have their views and opinions heard on all matters that affect their education.

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North Carolina Task Force on Student Involvement

The North Carolina State Dept. of Public Instruction Task Force on Student Involvement was a sixteen-member committee appointed by N.C. State Superintendent of Public Instruction A. Craig Phillips for a one-year term of service. Their common goal was to promote positive, constructive student involvement in education throughout North Carolina.


The Task Force was founded by the State Superintendent to improve race relations between students and educators. After that, their participation was expanded to include most general areas of public education. Members served on curriculum advisory committees and accreditation teams; conducted surveys of student needs; participated in human relations and other in-service training programs; and promoted programs designed to improve the welfare of students.


The Task Force was headed by a student director, a high school senior and a part-time state employee, all working with a full-time adult director. Student members were:

  • Geographically distributed across the state
  • Reflected different racial, social, economic, and academic backgrounds
  • Acted as a student voice to the State Department of Public Instruction
  • Sought areas where student input would be effective, such as on school accreditation teams, conferences and teacher workshops, and curriculum evaluation committees
  • Visited schools upon request to discuss different aspects of student involvement
  • Listened to students’ and administrators’ ideas
  • Helped students and educators work together to derive solutions to their own problems of apathy and unrest

Locally, student members were involved in many school and community activities, and the Task Force supported student-oriented and student-run programs across the state.

The Task Force also acted as a clearinghouse for student ideas on varied subjects, such as ecology, drugs, human relations, and curriculum, and transmits them to administrators, state officials, and other students.

These activities were all directed toward spurring other students in the state to become constructively involved in their schools and communities.


The Task Force wrote a number of reports focused on students and educators working together to take responsibility for solving their educational problems. Their findings covered general administrative policies, attitudes and actions of educators; attitudes and actions of students; extracurricular activities, student councils, human relations, and sensitive areas, including student elections for cheerleaders and prom queens, and curriculum.

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Vancouver School Board Student Trustee

The Vancouver School Board Student Trustee began their duty in 2013. The student trustee serves for one school year, and can be elected for two terms.

According to Vancouver School Board policy, student trustees will…

  • participate with other trustees in discussions, and provide a student perspective on matters before the Board
  • present a Student Trustee report at the first regular Board meeting of each month
  • report regularly to the students of the VBE, through the Vancouver District Student Council (VDSC), the activities of the Board pertaining to public meetings of the Board and its committees

According to Vancouver School Board policy, student trustees can...

  • attend all meetings of the Board, including standing committee meetings
  • comply with the Student Trustee Conflict of Interest Guidelines
  • suggest a motion on any matter at a meeting of the Board or a committee on which he/she sits
  • have access to all information and resources provided to Board members (e.g.: reports, training sessions, etc.) with the exception of information related to matters which are being considered at a private/closed meeting or from which persons other than trustees are excluded
  • visit and meet with secondary school students in schools within the Vancouver School District

According to Vancouver School Board policy, student trustees cannot…

  • be a member of the Board
  • vote on any matter before the Board or any of its committees
  • have the statutory powers or duties of a school trustee under the School Act
  • cannot attend or present private/closed meetings or at which persons other than trustees are excluded.
  • cannot move a motion

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Vancouver District Students’ Council

The Vancouver District Students’ Council, or VDSC, is a committee of dedicated student representatives from all 19 secondary schools and 22 alternative programs at the Vancouver School Board.

The VDSC’s mandate is to provide student input in the planning and decision-making of the district. It is also an opportunity for students to develop leadership skills, work collaboratively with students from other schools on pertinent educational issues, to contribute to the Vancouver school district and to learn about decision making and policy development.

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Student Voice in Canadian Education Agencies

Following are a variety of examples of student voice in Canadian education agencies.

Student voice is happening in a growing number of agencies in Canada.

Every province in the nation has a Ministry of Education, as well as local education districts for both public schools and religious schools. These all deal with early childhood education, K-12 schools and higher education. Other government education agencies address specific populations, including Native communities and others.

Local Districts / Divisions

Every province is divided into districts or divisions. Board members or trustees are elected to lead the district. School boards follow their province’s common curriculum.

The Canadian K-12 Education System © 2015 Adam Fletcher for SoundOut
The Canadian K-12 Education System

Ministries of Education

  • Alberta Education
  • British Columbia Ministry of Education
  • Manitoba Education and Literacy
  • New Brunswick Department of Education and Early Childhood Development
  • Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Education
  • Nova Scotia Department of Education and Culture
  • Nunavut Department of Education
  • Northwest Territories Department of Education and Employment
  • Ontario Ministry of Education
  • Prince Edward Island Department of Education and Early Childhood Development
  • Québec Ministry of Education, Recreation and Sports
  • Saskatchewan Education
  • Yukon Education

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Ontario Minister’s Student Advisory Council

The Ontario Minister’s Student Advisory Council, or MSAC, is a group of approximately sixty students from all parts of the publicly funded education system and regions of the province. MSAC is a place where students have a voice and where they will be heard.


The first council made an important contribution to Student Voice by identifying indicators of student voice. These indicators reflect the ideas of students from across Ontario about what helps strengthen student engagement in learning.

  • In 2008, the Ontario Minister of Education signed an order to create the Minister’s Student Advisory Council, under section 10 (a) of the Education Act.
  • Students grades 7 to 12 at publicly funded schools
  • No special qualifications are required.
  • Each year, approximately sixty students from across the province have provided advice to the Minister of Education on a variety of topics regarding the publicly-funded education system.
  • The Council gathers twice a year, once in May in Toronto and once in August at a leadership camp.
  • During their one-year term, council members may create sub-committees on matters of interest and meet virtually to discuss them.
  • Members are invited to participate in regional Student Voice programs and events like Regional Student Forums.
  • Students may also be invited to participate in consultations regarding policies or programs that have an impact on students.


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Youth Activism Project

logo YAPThe Youth Activism Project in Washington, DC is led by Wendy Lesko. Their national clearinghouse encourages those not yet of voting age to be change agents by influencing both their peers and policymakers to address local and global problems, including in the education system.

This nonprofit offers free strategic advice and leads to other youth-led efforts that are pursuing solutions for similar issues.

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