Pupil Voice

Are you listening?

I hope you all had successful celebrations of ‘World Book Day’. Mine is still on and today was particularly brilliant as we did *Drop Everything And Read*. By the time it was getting to the end of the day, my class were deeply engrossed in their Art lesson, this gave me the opportunity to read aloud to them, while they were painting. It was such a lovely atmosphere!

Earlier in the day, as I walked down the corridor, I was stopped by a year 6 pupil; she said, “Mrs O. I really enjoyed today.” I asked her why. She then went on to explain how she enjoyed the fact that she had the opportunity to stop and quickly catch up on the events in her book! All the fatigue I had been feeling from getting things organised for the week, just dissolved. Our pupils are the reason we teach; they are our number one inspiration. I thanked her for giving me feedback, as I walked on, two words rang in my head; *pupil voice!*

How often do you listen to your pupils? The term ‘pupil voice’ refers to ways of listening to the views of pupils and/or involving them in decision-making. You may also hear the expressions ‘learner voice’ or ‘consulting pupils’. An effective teacher/school leader/school owner etc  knows the value of engaging pupils as active participants in their education and in making a positive contribution to their school and local community.

Two weeks back, I was in Lagos and having a conversation with my niece and nephew about school and they both made the most extraordinary comment about marking and feedback. They said, ‘the worse part of marking is when a teacher writes *”seen”*. I was shocked. When I asked them why, my niece said, “when my teacher writes ‘seen,’ I don’t know if that is good or bad. I am not sure what to do next time.”

Do you know your *pupil voice*? Have you carried out a survey to find out what the pupils value? Have you used the results to influence the decisions you make on their behalf?

I found these statements on the UK government website:

Some of the benefits of involving children and young people in decision making are:

 • It encourages pupils to become active participants in a democratic society – by holding youth parliaments and school councils which develop skills such as cooperation and communication and encourage them to take responsibility. • It contributes to achievement and attainment – young people involved in participative work benefit in a range of different ways. Increased confidence, self-respect, competence and an improved sense of responsibility have all been reported by young people who contribute in school. Schools also report increased motivation and engagement with learning.

Are you listening? Enough said!



  1. I have always wondered what ‘seen’ as used by teachers meant, but unfortunately most of us teachers have continued to use it on our pupils the same way it was used by our own teachers. As teachers we should always give it a serious thought what feedback we give to learners at every stage of learning, believe me it will go along way to determine their next input towards even the simplest task you give them


  2. Nice article . Really liked that part about the very common comment Nigerian teachers use ” seen”. It’s not useful and not developemental . Sadly it’s a reflection of our educational philosophy. High time to change the paradigm and have relevant, incremental development as our objectives .


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