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Pupil Voice

What is pupil voice and what is its purpose?

Pupil voice is essentially listening to the views, experiences and opinions of children in school. The main purpose of pupil voice is to evaluate how well something is going to drive future improvements.

Teacher and children having a discussion

Who might use pupil voice?

Pupil voice may be used by a vartiety of different people within school and for a range of purposes. Here are some examples:

 

- Class teachers might use pupil voice to find out children's opinion on a learning experience they have had. Their feedback could influence how such experiences are planned or implemented.

- Subject leaders might use pupil voice to gain an insight into what is happening in their subject across the school.

- School council members might want to collect pupil voice to help them prioritise things they are working on or to gain opinions on a particular proposal they are making.

- Senior leadership may find pupil voice helpful when trying to get a feel for how a particular strategy or practice is working across the school.

- School inspection teams may use pupil voice to gain an insight into what is happening in a particular subject across the school and to see if what the subject leader is saying is being experienced by the children themselves.  

 


Teacher and children sharing ideas

How is pupil voice helpful to subject leaders?

As a subject leader, you need to have a really good understanding of what is happening in your subject across the school. There are many ways of doing this including looking at books and planning, talking to teachers, analysing data...but most importantly is the collection of pupil voice!

Children will tell you 'as it is' what is happening in your subject area and this is really useful. It can help you to evaluate things such as how successful a particular scheme is or whether a whole school strategy is being consistently applied across all classes. Pupil voice might reveal that in some classes this is not the case and it thus allows the subject leader to pinpoint their support to help drive improvement.

Purposes of pupil voice for subject leaders:

- Allow subject leaders to see how consistently a new strategy or scheme is being implemented.

- Enable subject leaders to find out how reguarly their subject is being taught.

- Gain an insight into how much their subject is being enjoyed and why.

- Gather evidence to present to school inspectors about what is happening in their subject area.

Here is an example which shows how pupil voice could be used by a subject leader:

Mr Wilkinson is a busy classroom teacher who also leads DT within his school. At the start of the school year he was given some staff meeting time to launch a new Long-Term Plan for DT. Furthermore, he spent quite a large percentage of his budget on a new scheme for DT which he hoped would both bring about consistency and support teachers who lacked confidence or experience in this subject area.

It is now almost Christmas and Mr Wilkinson would like to evaluate how the new approach is going. As he spends most of his time in his classroom, he has no idea really what is going on with his subject across the school. He knows that he himself is using the DT scheme and is finding it really useful but isn't sure whether this is the case in the other classes. He therefore decides to use his subject leader time to plan in opportunity for pupil voice. He plans a questionnaire and then interviews three children from each class (lower ability, middle ability and higher ability). It was REALLY insightful and showed that in most classes the children were really enthusiastic about the new scheme! They were able to show examples of what they had done and even used new vocabulary with confidence. However, children from some classes were unable to talk about any DT they had been learning. This therefore helped Mr Wilkinson target his support for teachers in imlementing the new scheme.

As you can see, the pupil voice was really useful as it highlighted classes to the subject leader where the new scheme was not being used as intended. He was then able to go and talk to those teachers and offer them the support they might need in implementing the new scheme.

 


Child talking, others listening

How is pupil voice helpful to class teachers?

Let's be honest - when you are a class teacher you are on a bit of a rollercoaster ride until you get to the next half term! It is a busy, full-on job and you always have a million things to remember. There's always something to do.

But planning in time every now and again to speak to your pupils about their learning experience can be really insightful and will enable you to improve your practice. Children are generally very honest so you can be sure they will not just tell you what you want to hear!

Purposes of pupil voice for class teachers:

- Find out how much children enjoyed a particular topic they have done - should we do it again next year? How should it be changed?

- Gain an insight into how children feel about a particular strategy you are using.

- Get ideas for future learning - what is it my class are interested in? What would they be enthused to learn about?

Here is an example which shows how pupil voice could be used by a class teacher:

Mrs Middleton has just got to the end of teaching a new Space topic she designed. She really enjoyed teaching it but wants to make it even better for next year! She decides to interview some children from her class to find out what they liked most about the topic and which parts they would change. It turns out that the pupils generally loved the topic and particuarly enjoyed the drama activity she did with the Apollo 11 moon landing lesson. They remembered so much! However, children didn't seem to keen on the story they had been reading as part of the topic.

This feedback enabled Mrs Middleton to gain an insight into what the children in her class thought. She made sure to include lots more drama activities in the following terms planning as she knew how much this was enjoyed by her class and led to some deep learning. However, when it came to the following year, she picked an alternative text for the English lessons as a result of the insights she had gained.

 


Children having a group discussion

How is pupil voice helpful to the school council?

School council might wish to use a form of pupil voice to find out about the opinions and ideas of children in the school on a range of issues.

Purposes of pupil voice for the school council:

- Find out children's ideas for a new project within school e.g. playground equipment.

- See which issues children are worried or concerned about within school.

- Find out what things are working well or less well on the playground.

- Provide them with a focus of what to work on to bring about improvement for children in the school.

Here is an example which shows how pupil voice could be used by the school council:

Mr Parry has been given the task of helping to run the school council in his school this year. He gets the school council together for their first meeting and the children agree that they would like to organise a fundraising event to raise money for new playground equipment. However, after looking through the catalogue with Mr Parry they are unsure which items they should aim to purchase. They decide to do a whole school questionnaire to find out what children across the school would like and also to gain other suggestions for the playground.

It turned out that skipping ropes were the most popular so they decided to allocate most of the money to buying those. Their pupil voice also revealed that many children in KS1 felt lonely on the playground and so the school council acted on this feedback by setting up a 'friendship rangers' system and 'friendship bench'.

In this case, the pupil voice was useful as it helped the school council to listen to what children in the school wanted. It also helped identify problems that were happening on the playground which they were subsequently able to address.


Child being heard read

How is pupil voice helpful to school inspectors?  

Gathering evidence from pupils to find out about their experience of school is an essential part of any school inspection.

Therefore, inspectors will aim to gather evidence from a range of pupils, both formally in groups and informally during lessons or social times.

Purposes of pupil voice for school inspectors:

- To evaluate teaching and learning across the school.

- To find out how effective the school's anti-bullying or behaviour policies are.

- To evaluate how well pupils are encouraged to respect others.

- To assess how well the school safeguards children in the school.

 

FREE Subject Leader Pupil Voice Question List


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