Pupil Consultation and Meaningful Student Involvement

2013EngagethruMSIOver the last 20 years, schools across the United Kingdom and throughout Europe have practiced an increasingly refined practice focused on pupil consultation. Pupil consultation is positioning students as significant contributors to school improvement efforts by listening to student voice.

What It Is

There are many ways to solicit student consultation. Here is one possible process:

  1. Before beginning, spend time with students to ask how much they know about the given topic you’re seeking consultation on. Record that information and use it to frame questions for the next steps.
  2. Using active teaching methods, engage students in a dialogue about the large topic at hand.
  3. Through triads and small groups, encourage students to share their views, thoughts and feelings about the large issue and smaller topics.
  4. Throughout the remainder of the consultation, use large groups, small groups, and mixed age groups to consult students in different configurations.
  5. The facilitator or large group notetaker should collect responses throughout the process(es).
  6. Student responses, which constitute data, should be collated, returned to school for students to review and amend if needed.
  7. Using the original student language, this data should be written as a draft report and submitted to students again for their review, editing and approval.
  8. The final report should be shared with participating students, their peers, teachers and school leaders, or other people involved.
  9. Students should be informed as to the outcomes of their consultation, including if nothing happens because of what was shared.
  10. The report shouldn’t be limited to the immediate setting that supported the data collection. Instead, the report should be posted online, shared with colleagues throughout the field and distributed as wide and far as possible, no matter what the subject.

What It Does

Many people can benefit from consulting students. They include:

  • State and district superintendents
  • Education agency staff
  • State and district school boards
  • Teacher leaders
  • School committees for curriculum, classroom management, school improvement, etc.
  • Classroom teachers

Where You Can begin

Pupil consultation is reflected on the Ladder of Student Involvement by recognizing how the practice can move student/adult relationships towards becoming genuine partnerships.

However, the potential for projects and schools to stagnate on students as consultants is high. That’s why its important for adults to stay aware of their perspectives of students, while students are deliberately taught about thoughtfulness.

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