The power of pupil voice is well documented; it develops students’ self-confidence, identifies pupils’ needs and provides schools with the opportunity to improve pupil learning experiences says Shaw Education Trust. But, how can schools capture this information in an exciting and engaging way?

While student questionnaires can be useful, they do not actively engage students in the strategic planning and direction of the school and therefore cannot ensure that their needs are effectively met.

To tackle this, the Shaw Education Trust has taken an innovative approach to further develop student voice, utilising a one-day conference aimed at shaping student experiences across its academies.

Jo Morgan, the Chief Executive of the Trust, enthused:

“It is important to us to provide students with the opportunity to talk about their academies, what makes them unique and what unifies them as a family of schools with shared values.”

To achieve this, on the 28th June two representatives of each school attended a Student Day at Walton Hall Academy where they participated in team building activities and explored the academy’s wonderful grounds and the activities it has to offer, including quad biking, bush crafts and farming.

During the day students were also given the opportunity to learn more about the Trust’s sponsor, the Shaw Trust, in order to develop pupils understanding of their academy and the wider work of the Trust.

Explaining the importance of this, Mrs Morgan continued: Shaw Education Trust

“The aim of the day is to equip students with an understanding of the different types of schools in the Trust, share experiences and provide them with information that they can take back to student councils to further disseminate reflections and understanding.”

The Trust, which currently has 10 Academies across 11 sites and is growing, has planned the day to further students’ understanding, as well as gain a direct insight into students’ experiences and needs.

The off-timetable day saw students across a range of ages, abilities and communities, interacting and working alongside one another with the aim of developing relationships across the Academies and promoting collaboration and the sharing of ideas.

Julie Yarwood, Director of Education at the Trust, said:

“The academies within our Trust are a family; we share ideas, pool resources and work together to provide students with the best possible learning experience. We are keen to gather students’ views about how the Trust can continue to fully encompass the opinions of the learners into all that we do.”

Student voice is greatly valued within the Trust and the information gained through the day will be used to further improve education provision and students’ opportunities to feedback across the Academies.

If proven effective, this will become an annual fixture on the Shaw Education Trust calendar, ensuring that the Trust continuously strives to improve student experiences.

Mrs Yarwood enthused:

“By sharing our approaches to key areas of school life, we hope to inspire other academies and school partnerships to take an active and engaging approach to pupil's voice.”

For more information about the Shaw Education Trust please visit www.shaw-education.org.uk.
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