Your school’s participation journey
Where ever your school is on its journey towards shared decision-making, it’s important that you start with an assessment of where you currently stand. Below are some questions which may be helpful to consider when you are assessing this:
- ‘What methods of communication are used when pupils are being involved in making decisions? Are these methods accessible and timely? Is information shared in ways that are meaningful for all?
- Are children and young people able to make a choice whether or not to get involved in the decision-making process from an informed basis?
- Are all pupils in your institution able to take part in decision-making at their own level, regardless of age, ability or circumstances?
- Are young people’s views genuinely listened to and taken into account when decisions are being made that affect them?
- If pupils get involved in decision-making, do they know how this has improved things and what difference they have made? If their views cannot be implemented, do they know why this is the case?
- Are pupils helped to develop self-esteem, skills and qualification through participation?
- Is participation part of a broader approach to school improvement, involving pupils in a cyclical process of learning and improving as a professional Learning Community, and across clusters of schools?’
Once you have a baseline assessment of where you currently are consider Hart’s Ladder as a model to measure the extent of learner participation and plan a way forward:
Another way to assess your school’s learner participation levels is by using this model from NICCY – Promoting the Rights of Children and Young People:
To help you move towards shared decision-making consider developing a Learner Participation Policy so that all learners have the opportunity to have their voice heard and to participate in decision-making processes. Having a policy alone will not ensure learner participation, but it is a good way to assess current practices, identify gaps and address these in an ongoing manner. Involving the learners themselves in this process will send a strong message to the learning community that learner voice is taken seriously and will encourage a sense of ownership and motivation.