The importance of Pupil Voice
What do we mean by ‘pupil voice’? What we really mean is: how are children and young people’s views, preferences and ideas a) heard and b) listened to. The move to the new SEN Code of Practice and Education, Health and Care Plans aimed to place children, young people and their families at the centre of the assessment process. But has it? Are pupil’s views truly being listened to?
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1990) outlines key rights for children and young people, including the right to express an opinion (and have it listened to and acted upon) on all matters affecting them. In order to represent true pupil voice, young people first need to have a space, the means, and an audience for their views. This means that the time should be taken by teachers, SENCos, professionals involved with the child, the Local Authority and parents to really figure out what the young person’s views are on their strengths, needs and how to help them. It will not be as simple as asking a series of questions to find out these answers in all (or even most) cases. Young people with SEND are likely to require different methods in order to express themselves fully, for example through the use of visuals/ objects, video, drawings or other methods. Even for pupils without SEND (and adults for that matter) being asked a series of questions about your strengths and needs isn’t likely to bring out the best in your answers. It puts you on the spot and can create anxiety.
This booklet, developed by the team in Hackney, may be useful for schools and settings in thinking about some of the techniques that can help to explore pupil voice:
We’d love to hear your views on this topic, so please get commenting!