02 October 2020

Pastoral Blog: The Importance of Student Voice

Pastoral Blog: The Importance of Student Voice

One of my current areas of focus at EIC is to develop the use of student voice.  The idea of really listening to the student voice can sometimes seem slightly unsettling for teachers and, indeed, there are certainly some pitfalls to be avoided.  However, I believe that the student voice has much to offer, both for teachers and for the students themselves.

We have revitalised our Student Council this year, and we allowed students in all years to join.  However, it was made clear to them that they had to agree to commit to attending once a fortnight.

In some cases, Student Councils can become a talking shop where nothing much actually gets accomplished, spending hours talking about things like water fountains.  In order to make our Student Council as effective as possible, we created different subcommittees, each focused on an aspect of the College Development Plan.  Therefore, we will be focusing on the redesign of the Reading Room, charity events and College social events as our main areas this year.

Each subcommittee has developed a proposal, and they shared this with the rest of the Student Council this week.  The other students and I suggested refinements.  In two weeks time, the students will be presenting their fully-costed proposals to the Principal for his approval.  And, because our Principal values accuracy and rigour, he will certainly be giving them a grilling to make sure their ideas have substance!  If the proposals are agreed, then the students will be able to implement their ideas and see the changes taking shape.

We are only a few weeks into the College year, but I have already seen a difference in the students who are members of the Council.  They are now much more confident in expressing their views and in listening to each other.  They see the importance of reaching a consensus and the futility of long circular arguments.  Each student is part of the leadership team of one subcommittee, so they are able to develop their leadership skills - and to know that leadership is about persuasion, listening and vision-setting, and not just giving orders.  Likewise, each student has learned how to make suggestions to the other groups but to concede gracefully to someone else’s leadership when the decision concerns another committee.

I am very much looking forward to seeing how these fantastic students develop the College and, by doing this, also develop themselves.

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