Rannpháirtíocht na bhfoghlaimeoirí i saol na scoile
Learners need to feel ownership of their learning and be given the opportunity to voice their views. Being active in decisions and activities of the school increases a sense of belonging and may help learners to develop leadership and social skills. Proactive efforts to engage marginalised learners and ensure their voices are heard are essential.
All Member States include some degree of provision for child participation within their general Education Act or Code. In many countries, children’s participation is promoted within schools through formal mechanisms, such as school councils, or targeted programmes. There is however a gap between legislation and practice and learners do not always have a real influence in decisions regarding fundamental aspects of their school experience and learning.
There should be sufficient time for classroom dialogue, as well as for discussions in the context of student councils or consultations on issues related to school life and to the learning experience. Learner contributions should be fully considered in subsequent decisions. Successful practices include:
- interactive and dialogic teaching and learning(for example in small groups), which increases opportunities for learners to talk with greater ease about issues impacting on their learning;
- school projectsthat involve the entire school community (such as ‘green school’ projects), and give learners leading roles in key aspects.
- surveys, questionnaires and other methods of consultation to seek the views of learners; and,
- meaningful participation of learners in school decision-making processesthrough representation on school boards/council and in school evaluation and improvement processes.
Some country examples of learners' participation in school life
- The Swedish upper secondary school curriculum states that: “…students should be able to exercise influence over their education. They should be continuously encouraged to take an active part in the work of further developing education and be kept informed of issues that concern them. Students should always have the opportunity of taking the initiative on issues that should be treated within the framework of their influence over education.” (Swedish National Agency for Education, Curriculum for the upper secondary school, Skolverket, Stockholm, 2013, p. 11)
- In England, students can send comments directly to the National Inspectorate (OFSTED).
- In Portugal, students participate in the general school council that is responsible for setting guidelines for school governance and provides school evaluation. Each class elects two delegates.
- In France, upper secondary school students elect delegates to a student council, which in turn elects delegates to regional and national student councils.
- In Spain, students lead a process of consensus building of school rules, leading to a communitarian approach to prevent and fight back against any type of violence at the school.
Find out more:
European Commission, Evaluation of legislation, policy and practice of child participation in the EU, Research summary prepared by ECORYS, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2015.