Pupil Participation

Participation is not a one-off, event-based undertaking or an end-in-itself but an overarching principle which builds a meaningful, effective and ongoing dialogue between children and staff.

Children’s experience of participation is monitored and structural and systemic barriers are identified and tackled, for instance by challenging negative views which devalue children’s voices.


For children and young people, knowing that they have the right to be heard in decisions which affect them boosts not only their sense of security but also their self-confidence.

This opens the way to developing and applying the skills, language and concepts that empowers them to claim their rights and to advocate for the rights of children everywhere.

   How do you hear the voices of your children in school?

The NASUWT guide to Student/Pupil Voice in England

The NASUWT is absolutely clear that pupils should play an active, constructive and appropriate role in their own learning, the learning of their peers and the development of their school communities. Teachers have always sought to ensure that pupils are able to articulate their views and participate effectively in their learning and in the wider life of their school communities. This is a fundamental element of teachers’ professional practice and it recognises that teachers’ ability to motivate pupils to learn depends on the extent to which pupils can be supported to engage in and take responsibility for their own learning.

Protecting and enhancing the right of children and young people to be heard and participate meaningfully in decisions that affect their lives is a key duty of the state in a democratic society. It is, therefore, a particularly important principle in the context of the state’s responsibilities for ensuring universal access to well-funded and high-quality education.

You can find the NASUWT guide to Student Voice in schools here:
www.nasuwt.org.uk/pdf

   Promote pupil participation

Participation is not a one-off, event-based undertaking or an end-in-itself but an overarching principle which builds a meaningful, effective and ongoing dialogue between children and staff. Children’s experience of participation is monitored and structural and systemic barriers are
identified and tackled, for instance by challenging negative views which devalue children’s voices.For children and young people, knowing that they have the right to be heard in decisions which affect them boosts not only their sense of security but also their self-confidence. This opens the way to developing and applying the skills, language and concepts that empowers them to claim their rights and to advocate for the rights of children everywhere.

The Rights Respecting Schools Award is a Unicef UK programme that aims to put children’s rights at the heart of schools in the UK. In order to develop a sense of self-efficacy and confidence, pupils need to feel that they have influence and a genuine voice. Pupil participation can happen in a variety of ways and at different levels of school life. Some of these are:

  • having an authentic voice in teaching and learning
  • processes such as circletime, focus groups, and consultations
  • participatory groups such as the class / school council, eco committee, healthy schools and peer mentors, including peer-led approaches
  • having structures in place so that all pupils can be involved in decision-making, including those with additional learning needs
   Rights Respecting Schools Award

The Rights Respecting Schools Award is a Unicef UK programme that aims to put children’s rights at the heart of schools in the UK. In order to develop a sense of self-efficacy and confidence, pupils need to feel that they have influence and a genuine voice. Pupil participation can happen in a variety of ways and at different levels of school life. Some of these are:

  • Having an authentic voice in teaching and learning
  • Processes such as circletime, focus groups, and consultations
  • Participatory groups such as the class / school council, eco committee, healthy schools and peer mentors, including peer-led approaches
  • Having structures in place so that all pupils can be involved in decision-making, including those with additional learning needs