Student voice to improve schools: Perspectives from students, teachers and leaders in ‘perfect’ conditions.
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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This article explores the use of student voice to contribute to improving schools. Through the gathering of perspectives and experiences of staff and students, it considers how the responses to requirements for both student voice and school improvement interrelate and identifies challenges to be addressed. The research was conducted in Norway because, with its long-standing engagement with children’s well-being and rights expressed through its comprehensive framework of legislation and allocation of resources, it has arguably created ideal conditions for students to be involved in improving schools. Findings revealed some recognition of the centrality of student voice in the enactment of democracy in schools: students and teachers had positive perceptions of student voice, and school leaders were willing to incorporate student voice in school improvement processes. Current uses of student voice were, however, largely restricted to the operations of the student council for a range of reasons. The absence of alternative structures, time constraints and doubts about competence were reported, leading to student voice having little impact on school improvement, even in what might be considered ‘perfect’ conditions.