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Journal of Education Volume 1 October 2019

Produced by Education and Training Boards Ireland

ETBI Education Journal October 2019

© 2019 Education and Training Boards Ireland.

Published by Education and Training Boards Ireland, Piper’s Hill, Kilcullen Road, Naas, Co. Kildare.

This publication may be accessed at www.etbi.ie


ETBI Education Journal October 2019

Contents Volume 1 (1)




Valerie Lewis

Junior Cycle and Student Voice


Norman Emerson

Our Journey with Student Voice


Veronica Walshe

Student Voice: opportunities and challenges in an Irish context


Gráinne Macken

The Motivation for Student Voice in Irish Post-Primary Schools: a challenge in a changing educational landscape


Dr Domhnall Flemming

Activating voice in the ‘Learner Voice Space’ framework Dr. Paula Flynn



ETBI Education Journal October 2019


ETBI Education Journal October 2019

Editorial Valerie Lewis Education and Training Boards Ireland

In this first edition of the ETBI Education Journal we give voice to voice itself by exploring the many facets of student and learner voice across our post primary schools. At a time when we have never had more vehicles to communicate, especially through social media and technological platforms, our contributors explore what that student voice looks, and sounds like in practice.


Over the past year we have seen and heard many young people become involved in public activism, exercised by their concerns, and the apparent lack of concern by the adults in their midst, about issues surrounding climate change. These teenagers have chosen to make their voices heard outside the school gates and in some instances on the world stage.

has gained momentum in recent times, it is not an entirely new phenomenon in our schools. In fact, research and conversations about the many aspects of student voice and learning, have been explored in various facets over the past two decades. In the Irish policy context, the latest iteration of Looking at Our School 2016, provides a framework for self-evaluation to be used by both teachers and school leaders to undertake effective and engaging teaching and learning approaches. At the heart of this framework is of course the student, who is rightly given a central role. “It views students as active agents in their

As part of these activities, students have highlighted that they bring a perspective to these discussions which are not only specific to their experiences, but also demonstrate that these perspectives cannot be seen in the same way by the adult cohort which surrounds them. While this public manifestation of student voice


ETBI Education Journal October 2019

learning who engage purposefully in a wide range of learning activities and who respond in a variety of ways to different learning opportunities” (The Inspectorate, 2016, p7)

Regardless of perspective, all the articles underscore the importance of the process and not just product. While the power of application and initiation for student voice projects and conversations may lie with the policy makers, leaders and educators, there is no doubt the role of expert in the student voice landscape are the students themselves. Not only is involving students in the conversations that impact their learning pivotal, it ensures “they are prepared to grapple with issues and participate in conversations related to the broader education system” (Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy, 2019)

Through the range of articles, you will read of the perspectives of both the authors and the participants in the varying projects and research. One of the recurring projects, Student Voice: The BRIDGE to Learning (2016 – 2019) provides engagement from the many experiences of the project coordinators, partners and participants, which is demonstrated through the first three articles of the journal. This Erasmus project aims to empower students to participate meaningfully and collaboratively in their experience of school.

Now more than ever is the time to channel the strength of student voice, empowering students to promote and campaign for themselves, sharing who they are, what they believe in and what they think. "When students believe that they are valued for their perspectives and respected, they begin to develop a sense of ownership and attachment to the organization in which they are involved" (Mitra & Goss, 2009). In time, this empowerment could and should transform into active participative citizenship, giving rise to a voice which was heard and responded to in the school community and amplified and motivated in the working world.

The final two articles in this journal attend separately to ‘motivation’ and ‘activation’ of student voice. The motivation for student voice in Irish post-primary schools is explored through a journey of many recent procedural documents and notes that that there may still be some way to go. Activation is addressed through a structure for activating voice through listening, leadership and learning and the significant role for school leaders in the pursuit of authentic school voice experiences is highlighted. All learner roles in dialogue must be acknowledged, driven by the potential positive improvement in relationships, a sense of belonging as well as increased confidence and wellbeing.


ETBI Education Journal October 2019

Mitra, D.L. & Gross, S.J. 2009. Increasing Student Voice in High School Reform: Building Partnerships, Improving Outcomes. Educational Management Administration & Leadership. Vol. 37, No. 4. Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy Student Voice, How Young People Can Shape the Future of Education, blog post, March 2019, accessed 31 August 2019 https://www.renniecenter.org/ blog/student-voice-how-young-people-can-shape-future-education The Inspectorate, 2016, Looking at our School: A Quality Framework for Post-primary Schools. Dublin: Department of Education and Skills.


ETBI Education Journal October 2019


ETBI Education Journal October 2019

Junior Cycle and Student Voice Norman Emerson Director Curriculum and Assessment NCCA



The importance of Student Voice in Ireland is recognised in Junior Cycle reform. The vision for junior cycle places students at the centre of the educational experience and the Framework for Junior Cycle (Framework, 2015) has been designed as a means through which this vision can be realised. The Framework for Junior Cycle highlights how listening to students’ voices needs to be at the core of junior cycle provision if schools are to ensure that all students are engaging in a programme that best suits their needs. In the new junior cycle, students are encouraged to reflect on how they are progressing in their own learning and provide feedback to their teachers. In developing the capacity for self-management and self-awareness, students are more likely to approach their learning more confidently and be better prepared to meet the challenges of life beyond school.

has been the Erasmus Project – Student Voice The Bridge to Learning. Ireland is one of five European partners in this project, which aims to develop different models of working in partnership with students in schools and in classrooms. NCCA in partnership with the JCT is taking a collaborative approach to the project and is working with nine schools and over thirty teachers. One of the key features of this Erasmus project is an attempt to focus not just on the “what” of student voice, but also on the “how” of the implementation process. In taking this forward, many partner countries aim to develop student voice through a shift from top down policy implementation towards an approach with a strong dimension of school collaboration at

PARTICIPATION IN INTERNATIONAL PROJECTS One of the drivers for Student Voice in Ireland


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policy, school and classroom level. This approach aims to empower teachers to take the Student Voice project forward in a way that is most useful/ appropriate for their unique local context.

on what is most likely to enable a culture of student voice in learning and teaching in classrooms. The project highlighted, in particular, the impact a collaborative approach has on teacher professional development.

This approach aligns with OECD advice as set out by Viennet and Pont (2017) in What makes a School a Learning Organisation. The rationale for this school based approach to policy implementation is based on long standing evidence from research which indicates that, despite the plethora of education reforms by policy makers in the last 30 years, there has been little real evidence of centrally driven reforms being sustained. “Hurricane winds sweep across the sea tossing up twenty foot waves; a fathom below the surface turbulent waters swirl while on the ocean floor there is unruffled calm” (Cuban, 1994).

WORKING WITH SCHOOLS AND SETTINGS TO CHANGE PRACTICE IN LEARNER VOICE The diagram shows the model that teachers in Erasmus project schools in Ireland used to

Cuban argues that, despite all the “sea tossing” of various policy papers, conferences and activities associated with education reform, there is little or no evidence of its impact on classroom practice - “the ocean floor.” More recently, Viennet and Pont (2017) highlighted how OECD countries had adopted 450 major education reforms between 2008 and 2014 and pointed to the lack of evidence of these having a sustained impact on classroom practice.

structure their work in the project. Teachers collaborated to develop a culture in classrooms where there was a shift in the balance of responsibility from the teachers to the students. As a result, all students in a class are involved in working with their peers and

In the Erasmus project, there has been a significant emphasis on collaboration which involves supporting teachers to enable students to take a central role in their own learning. Tracing the project journey reveals key features


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teachers in a process of feedback, self evaluation and questioning aimed at delivering enhanced student voice.

The impact of the Erasmus Project on teachers’ pedagogy is best illustrated listening to the voices of teachers themselves:

Changes in classroom cultures were not established quickly, but early indications are that the approach used has started to build teaching effectiveness, student confidence and some signs of improved student achievement.

My work has been enriched by this process. I stepped out of my comfort zone and asked the students to reflect on how they learned in my lessons, and I became more conscious of the relationship between us that is conducive to learning. I became more relaxed; the reality of their experiences informed my lesson preparation. I initiated more peer conversations, we designed success criteria collaboratively, my colleagues observed and recorded my lessons. I embraced it to see what the outcome would be, and I have nothing but positive feedback to report. student voice has been embedded in my practice. It is not tokenistic; it is meaningful and honest.


Setting out the vision and anticipated benefits of the project for the participating teachers was an important first step. Teachers resist change that they do not fully understand. The key to achieving this change was structured peer interaction across and within the project schools. In planning for building collaborative learning cultures, research (Hayward and Spencer 2010) has shown that teachers develop their practice best when learning from each other. However, it takes time to build trust across all the partners before effective collaboration can be achieved. Similarly, the changed dynamic in the class between teachers and students takes time and requires students to understand the rationale for the changes in pedagogy.

CONCLUSION In Ireland, we are developing curricula which firmly place the learner at the centre and emphasise the value of student voice as part of the learning process. This has meant a move away from an understanding of student voice as only limited to a process where a small select number of students have their voice heard in the representational space.


I liked the notion that we could start from our own context and also work collaboratively with other schools. After that first day, I returned to my classroom and quickly realised how much of my lessons were dominated by my voice. I was quietly embarrassed. I started a journey of activating student voice within my classroom and on a

Embedding a culture of student voice whereby all students can exert agency over their educational experience needs support at system, school and classroom level. One of the longer term aims is to encourage a substantial and


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fully engage all stakeholders in ownership of the process together with a focus on planned changes in learning and teaching can have a significant impact on classroom practice and lead to enhanced student voice for a greater number of students.

TEACHERS HAVING TIME TO COLLABORATE WAS SEEN TO BE EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. sustained shift in the culture of the classrooms and schools beyond the initial group of schools that were involved. Whilst the development of student voice in the project rested largely with the teachers, the role of the school leadership was seen to be critical, as was the opportunity to collaborate and reflect on their professional learning across school networks. Teachers having time to collaborate was seen to be extremely important. This reflects observations made by Hargreaves and Fullan (1992) that “Critical reflection will not take place if there is neither time nor encouragement for it.” The project demonstrates that taking time to

Cuban, L. (1994). How teachers taught: Constancy and change in American classrooms 1890–1980. New York, NY: Teachers College Press Hargreaves, A., & Fullan, M. (1992). Understanding teacher development. London: Cassell/ New York, Teachers College Press. Hayward, L. and Spencer, E. (2010) The complexities of change: formative assessment in Scotland. Curriculum Journal, 21(2), pp. 161-177 Viennet, R., & Pont, B. (2017). Education policy implementation: A literature review and proposed framework. OECD Education Working Papers, No. 162. Paris: OECD Publishing .


ETBI Education Journal October 2019

Our Journey with Student Voice Veronica Walshe Deputy Principal, Coláiste Treasa, Cork


Programme. Nine teachers in Colaiste Treasa were qualified in the IL Programme, and those who had graduated provided CPD to all staff based on what they had learned. This ensured that all the teachers involved in The Bridge to Learning Programme were engaged in similar approaches, with strategies also being modelling in staff meetings where appropriate.

In September 2017 we were delighted to receive an invitation to get involved in a pilot project between the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), Junior Cycle for Teachers (JCT), Cork ETB and Monaghan-Cavan ETB called Student Voice – The Bridge to Learning. Ireland is one of five European partners in this project, which aims to develop different models of working in partnership with students in schools and in classrooms.

Inspired by a talk from Dr. Domhnall Fleming (School of Education, UCC) we decided we would begin by posing two questions that Dr. Fleming had used in his research on student voice:

Three teachers from Colaiste Treasa, Mary Angland (English & History), Joanne Corkery, (Science, Biology & Chemistry) and Aine Irwin (French), as well as Veronica Walsh, Deputy Principal volunteered to get involved. During an initial meeting in Portlaoise, over the course of two days, we discussed, brain-stormed and heard from various speakers, which resulted in the starting point for our work on Student Voice.


What are we currently doing in the class that helps you learn?


What could we do in class to help you learn better?

These questions were initially given as part of a survey, to the second and fifth-year students of the teachers who were involved in the programme and the results provided much food for thought. We truly did not realise the impact the answers would have had on our teaching and the students’ learning.

Much of the direction for the framework for our approach came from the methods learned and experienced by our staff who had participated in the Barrie Bennet Instructional Leadership


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the stick back in the container so the students know they could be asked a question several times. She found that this approach encourages students to continue listening and ensures that all students were given a voice.

Initial survey results from the Science classes showed that students really liked when they were engaged using various cooperative learning and teaching strategies. Approaches such as Teams Games Tournament, Kahoot, Quizlet as well as the use of various graphic organisers and placemats, tended to provide most engagement.


However, it was also noted that some respondents felt that the same students were answering all the questions and that others did not get the chance to engage. Teacher Joanne Corkery knew that for Student Voice to work effectively, she must react to this student feedback. She chose to address this equal participation challenge by using a simple ‘name on a popsicle stick’ approach, with a stick assigned to each student. She selects a stick from the container and poses a question to the named student. When it is answered she puts

While this approach works well with Junior Cycle students, senior students felt it was a bit childlike, so further adaptations were made. She now poses a question to the first students who after answering it, poses a question to the next student and so on. Note-taking also arose as an area of concern for students, who commented that it was at times ‘boring’ and ‘time-wasting’. Joanne chose to tackle this issue by moving to an approach called note-making as an alternative. Topics are initially presented in a brief lecture format, with students listening and engaging with the teacher. Labelled diagrams e.g bacteria are presented, and parts and their functions named orally. This is followed by the presentation of an unlabelled diagram, which students name and label themselves. Finally, the slides are removed completely, and the students are asked to draw a labelled diagram of the bacteria in their notes book.


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Students worked in groups and/or pairs throughout the lesson and all presentations are available on Edmodo following the lessons. This allows for students to expand on notes already written or to create their own notes based on their experience. As a result of this change in approach, collaborating with students in the process, she has found that they are much more involved, and the class is built around the students’ prior knowledge. She has also found that students are retaining information in a better way and the results that they are attaining are much higher.

vocabulary into their notebooks at the end of the lesson or for homework. For senior cycle students Aine uses a placemat activity where students work in groups to come up with as much as they can themselves on a topic which they write on the placemat in their own section. She then gives the students a French vocabulary list with no English, one group will translate the first 15 words, the next group will do the next 15 words and so on, comparing as a class afterwards. Depending on the topic, they divide the vocabulary into causes and/or solutions using placemat or graphic organisers and call out their ideas as she writes them on a flip chart.


She does note that while it takes longer to do vocabulary this way, they are remembering content much better. Every exercise in the book no longer needs to be completed, but students are better prepared for the exam as they have

FRENCH The feedback that the French Teacher received from posing the two questions was similar. Aine also reviewed her approach and opted for a more visual presentation when teaching the topic of vocabulary. She airdrops a presentation to students with a picture and accompanying French word, students then make a copy on their ipad, delete the French word and store the picture for later revision. Students also have an opportunity to make their own presentations, which increases retention and can be shared with the entire class group. They continue to write the


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become critical thinkers and they have their own opinions and supporting vocabulary.

Extending the survey across the school cohort, we worked with Transition Year students. . Using a SWOT analysis approach, they gave input on school policies, codes of behaviour, homework and attendance. This work was then extended to some formal survey questions complied from looking at our school’s document for School Self Evaluation purposes.

Concept attainment is used at Leaving Certificate level, where students figure out rules around different pronouns by looking at examples. Exercises are completed in groups with members of each group sharing their learning with other students. As students move around and share, they also bring the knowledge back to their ‘home’ group and teach their peers what they have learned. Students apply the learning to further examples, which previously would have mirrored the information on a handout but is now being developed by the students themselves.

Questions in the survey ranged across several areas and asked for comments on fairness and respect, expectations for teaching and learning, student access to participation and access to and availability of support. This exercise was repeated with all staff and responses from both staff and students were used to inform and update school policies and will impact their development in an ongoing manner.

With greater student collaboration, Aine notes that her classroom practice has been transformed in a positive way, both in terms of student/teacher relationships but also in relation to student attainment and results, which have increased since the change in approach has been implemented. Similarly impact has been noted outside the classroom and the school, with the topic of Student Voice being raised by parents with one noting 'whatever it is, it's working'.

As part of the Student Voice - The Bridge to Learning project, we were given several opportunities to share our work outside of the school environment and in other jurisdictions. Following the presentation of our work to Junior Cycle for Teachers (JCT) associates we also travelled to Scotland to participate in the international aspect of the programme.


ETBI Education Journal October 2019

Representatives of the schools involved in the BRIDGE Programme from five different countries and several students and teachers of East-Lothian schools, participated in the second International dissemination conference for teachers. Local school visits during this conference also allowed us to experience Student Voice in a different setting. Student Voice - The Bridge to Learning has transformed our classrooms, improved rapport between students and teachers, motivated teachers and improved students’ learning. This increased engagement across the school environment has been fully supported by management and we look forward to enhancing the project as it continues to develop



ETBI Education Journal October 2019


ETBI Education Journal October 2019

Student Voice: opportunities and challenges in an Irish context Gráinne Macken Junior Cycle for Teachers



Junior Cycle for Teachers (JCT) and National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) have been partners in a three-year Erasmus Plus project, Student Voice – Bridge to Learning. The project, which reached completion in June 2019, aimed to develop different models of working in partnership with students in schools and in classrooms. JCT and NCCA worked collaboratively with nine schools and over twenty teachers in two different Education and Training Boards in Ireland (ETB), Cavan/Monaghan ETB and Cork ETB. Much of this work involved supporting these teachers and their schools as they developed learning and teaching approaches that enabled students to become active agents in their own learning, taking early steps in a journey to enhanced student voice.

the classroom. Tracing the journey of this project to date, reveals the opportunities and challenges that exist in embedding a culture of student voice in every classroom in every school in Ireland. WHAT DO WE MEAN BY STUDENT VOICE? The models of partnership that were developed all hinged on the centrality of students in their own educational experience. Student voice is not understood as a collective or homogenous representative voice for students. Rather, the project recognised that all students’ voices are unique and equally valuable, in keeping with leading theorists in student voice, Lundy (2009)

This collaborative work has key learning to share on the experiences of teachers and students pursuing more authentic student voice in the school and in the classroom. It also illuminates the impact a collaborative approach has on teacher professional development and the effect this has on students’ experiences in


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and Cook-Sather (2006). The work carried out over the three years sought to develop models that activate and develop the voices of all students in learning.



impact of Project Maths. With regards to junior cycle reform, NCCA worked closely with Dr. Paula Flynn, DCU, on facilitating students’ voices in the process of drafting the new subject specifications. Currently, the NCCA are undertaking a significant review of senior cycle and students’ voices from 41 schools are an integral part of this review process.

From a system level point of view, enhancing student voice in post-primary education in Ireland is supported by policy. The Department of Education and Skills (DES), recognises the significant role of students’ voices in education. The School Self Evaluation Guidelines (SSE) for schools highlights the importance of including students’ voices in evaluating practices in schools (DES, 2016). Whole School Evaluations also capture voices of students as a means of reflecting on the effectiveness of a school (DES, 2016).

Most notably, enhancing student voice is an important aspect of the current junior cycle reform. The vision for junior cycle ‘places students at the centre of the educational experience’ and the Framework for Junior Cycle, 2015 (Framework) has been designed as a means through which this vision can be realised (DES, 2015). Student voice is a core aspect of the Framework as a child cannot take centre stage in their own educational experience if they do not have opportunities to exercise their voice. It is a flexible framework intended to be responsive to the needs of individual students in different school contexts (DES, 2015). A junior cycle programme need not be the same for every child in every school. Rather, junior cycle provision has the space to reflect the cultural context of a school and the needs of its students. Authentically listening to students’ voices is at

In 2017 the Department of Child and Youth Affairs (DCYA) published their report ‘So How was School Today?’, which sets out the views of 3,242 young people, aged 12-17 from across all sectors of post-primary schools in Ireland. The findings reveal much about young people’s experiences of post-primary education in Ireland and will inform policy. The NCCA have been exploring ways of activating student voice in curriculum development for several years. They have been involved in a Learner Voice Project, a Negotiated Integrated Curriculum project and in 2012 they engaged students’ voices in evaluating the


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the core of junior cycle provision in schools. If schools are to ensure that all students are engaging in a programme that best suits their needs, they must first listen to their students.

places students at the centre of their own educational experience. Voice is central to this endeavour and calls on all stakeholders to reconceptualise what we value in terms of student learning. Given the similar aims, the work of the Erasmus project was situated within the context of Junior Cycle reform.

The Framework has been designed in a way that supports teachers and schools in approaching learning and teaching in a way that enables students to exert agency over their own learning. The introduction of a learning outcomes-based curriculum, an emphasis on the development on key skills and significant changes to assessment, where ongoing assessment values the synergy between formative and summative assessment, all provide opportunities for students to take centre stage in their own learning. These core elements of the reform also provide the richest avenues through which students’ voices are placed at the core of learning and teaching in classrooms and in schools. Hence, the objectives of the ErasmusStudent Voice project echo the vision of the Framework, which

IRISH PROJECT APPROACH The project partners in Ireland recognise that student voice cannot happen in a vacuum. Students will only truly become central players in their own educational experience, when they can voice agency over their own learning, if teachers engage with them in ways that develop this capacity. Teachers themselves will only feel enabled to develop models of working in partnership with students if they are supported at school level and all partners in schools will need the support at system level if enhancing student voice is to become a central concern As mentioned previously, JCT and NCCA are working collaboratively with three teachers and a member of school

Figure 1: Levels of support


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what kinds of active leadership in nine schools in ALL LEARNING MUST BE methodologies best Cavan/Monaghan ETB And provide avenues for Cork ETB. Both ETBs GROUNDED IN CULTURAL students’ voices to be actively supported the CONTEXT AND AS SUCH WHAT heard in the learning project at all levels and fully WORKS IN ONE CONTEXT MAY space. Some supported the teachers and participating teachers students at the heart of this NOT NECESSARILY APPLY IN began to focus on how work. Teachers are the key EVERY SCHOOL formative assessment influencers on students’ practices like success learning and they have a (CONWAY, MURPHY, RATH & HALL, 2009). criteria, peer assessment fundamental role in what and student reflection provide opportunities to happens in the classroom and how it happens activate and develop students’ voices in the (Fullan, 2006). classroom space. In keeping with a truly collaborative approach One school focused on its Wellbeing the teachers involved were included as one of Programme and developed ways of engaging the main stakeholders at every level of decision with students to design a programme that best making. The collaborative approach taken in this responds to their identified needs. Regardless project is very much in keeping with Hargreaves of the starting point, the end is always the same & Ainscow (2015). All learning must be as they are all on a journey towards enhanced grounded in cultural context and as such what student voice for all students. works in one context may not necessarily apply in every school (Conway, Murphy, Rath & Hall, 2009). This is particularly true of working in TEACHER AND STUDENT EXPERIENCES partnership with students in schools and classrooms. Given the collaborative decisionAccording to Cook-Sather (2006), students making approach, models being developed have a unique perspective on being a student between teachers and students varied from and as such their voices are integral to any teacher to teacher and school to school, discussion of students’ experiences of learning. depending on the context and the choice of As synopsised by Dr Paula Flynn, (2018) starting point. activating and developing students’ voices empowers students to participate in school life, One of the schools chose to focus on their SSE encourages student engagement in learning, process and look at ways of embedding improves student-teacher relationships and students’ voices more fully in the evaluation encourages active, democratic citizenship. process in their school. Other teachers explored Teacher and student testimony from the


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partner schools echo this theoretical base for enhanced student voice in education. Evidence from the project reflects that activating and developing students’ voices is positively impacting students, teachers and the overall school communities.

participating teachers early on in the project highlighted how the power dynamic in the classroom is a space where teachers might feel most vulnerable. It took time to and patience to come to the realisation that activating students’ voices in the classroom doesn’t open the floor to teachers being undermined. It is not a hand over of power. Rather, it is a more equitable balance of voices in the learning and teaching space. This is where the professional and the personal journey align in terms of professional learning (Timperley et al, 2007). In keeping with Guskey’s theory of teacher change, once the participating teachers began to have authentic experiences of students’ voices positively impacting learning and teaching, they became increasingly motivated to pursue other ways to further enhance students’ voices in their classroom (Guskey, 2002).

Each of the participating schools experimented with ways to extend the models their teachers and students developed across the wider school community. The impetus for this appears to have come from students sharing with fellow students and teachers their experiences of learning in environments where their voices are being activated and developed. Testimony from these schools also suggests that the positive impact working in partnership with students is having on the professional lives of the teachers involved is spilling over into their day to day working lives and motivating other teachers to reflect on their practice. Significantly, evidence suggests that deepening the confidence of teachers in working in partnership with students is a key component of enhancing student voice in an authentic way in the classroom. Reflective feedback from the

GOING FORWARD The Irish experience in this project reflects that the journey towards enhanced student voice takes time and needs to be supported at classroom, school and system level. One of the strengths of the Irish context is that all three levels of support were in place for the students at the heart of this project. Given the current educational reform climate, the system level support and most significantly, the commitment of teachers and schools to improved learning outcomes for students, embedding a culture of enhanced student voice in learning and teaching in Ireland has never been more possible.



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Conway, P.F., Murphy, R., Rath, A., & Hall, K. (2009). Learning to teach and its implications for the continuum of teacher education: A nine-country cross-national study. Dublin: Teaching Council Ireland. Cook-Sather, A. (2006). Sound, Presence, and Power: "Student Voice" in Educational Research and Reform. Curriculum Inquiry 36, 359-390. Department of Child and Youth Affairs (DCYA). (2017). So how was school today? Dublin: Government Publications. Department of Education and Skills (DES). (2016). A guide to inspections in post-primary schools. Dublin: Government Publications. Department of Education and Skills (DES). (2015). School self-evaluation guidelines for post-primary schools. Dublin: Government Publications. Department of Education and Skills (DES). (2015). Framework for Junior Cycle, 2015. Dublin: Government Publications. Fullan, M. (2006). Quality Learning=Quality Leadership. IPPN Guskey, T.R. (2002). Professional development and teacher change. Teachers and teaching: Theory and practice, 8(3), 381-391. Hargreaves, A. & Ainscow, M. (2015). The top and bottom of leadership and change. Phi Delta Kappan International, 97(3), 42-48. Lundy, L. (2009). ‘Voice’ is not enough: conceptualising Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. British Educational Research Journal, 33(6), 927-942. Timperly, H., Wilson, A., Barrar H., & Fung, I. (2007). Teacher professional learning and development. New Zealand Ministry of Education


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The Motivation for Student Voice in Irish PostPrimary Schools: a challenge in a changing educational landscape Dr Domhnall Flemming School of Education UCC



The volume of student voice has been raised across the Irish post-primary sector. The terms student voice, learner voice, pupil voice have become part of the language and jargon current in schools particularly since 2016 following the publication by the Department of Education and Skills (DES) of their quality framework for schools Looking at our School (2016). Student voice has since become the focus of a range of conferences, workshops, continuing professional development initiatives and national programmes. As a term and concept, it now features in frameworks for external and school self-evaluation. This paper seeks to track these developments and critically evaluate the motivation behind the current acoustic of student voice.

experiences in schools with a view to changing these conditions and the position of the student within school culture (Rudduck, 2005). It can emphasise dialogue and consultation leading to action within a democratic and representative framing of the students’ role and position in schools and classrooms (Fielding, 2004). Student voice also speaks to a rights-based conceptualisation of a student’s role and position in schools and classrooms within which students are afforded a voice in matters that affect them with the clear expectation that their voices will be heard and that action arising from dialogue will result. A rights-based

DEFINITIONS, COMPLEXITY, CONTESTATION: It is of significant importance in any discussion of student voice to have some insight into the complexity of the concept referencing its origins, definitions, motivations and contestations. At its most basic level the concept can be viewed as simply talking to students about their


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conceptualisation of student voice also brings overtones of power and challenge to power and authority towards change and transformation in schools and classrooms (Cook-Sather, 2006).

148). Students are then positioned as active agents in their own knowledge construction and in the resolution of perceived problems and injustices (Cook-Sather, 2002).

This positioning of student voice as discussion and comment towards change and improvement in the students’ experience of their school and classroom should be viewed in the context of dialogic consultation (Fleming, 2013). Students are thus positioned as active stakeholders and partners in the classroom and school within a person-centred democratic experience (Fielding, 2011). The students should have a pre -figurative democratic experience: a lived experience of democracy in the routine transactions of school (McCowan, 2010).

Engaging with and consulting students therefore moves strongly towards the transformative and agentive impact of student voice on pedagogy and thus ‘carving a new order of experience’ (Rudduck and Flutter, 2000, p. 75) in classrooms and creating and transmitting new knowledge in relation to school culture. Whether these voices are simply instrumental or fundamentally transformative in the context of ‘radical collegiality and dialogue’ (Fielding, 1999) and whether they have the potential to transform school culture, is clearly contested (Fleming, 2013).

The concept can therefore be theorised as social constructivism in the context of dialogic teaching, learning and assessment in the classroom and from a social constructionist framing in its democratic and representative questioning and challenge to the authority, orthodoxy and established practices and routines of the students’ school experience (Fleming, 2013). An ‘authentic dialogue’ should be generated between student and teacher to shed light on the ‘social reality’ of the student and the curriculum (Alexander, 2008, p. 20).

EDUCATION POLICY At whole-school level, the student council, as set out in the Education Act (1998), provided the initial construct that would allow students to challenge the reality of their school experience and move towards transformation of school culture. However, the enactment and the lived reality of the students’ experience of the student council construct in Irish schools has been largely tokenistic, and at best circumscribed by the power and authority of school leadership (Keogh and White, 2005, Fleming, 2013). It is argued that the inclusion of a meeting with the student council in the initial iteration of wholeschool evaluation in 2004 was a significant

Student voice should empower students to move from silence to challenge, thus creating a ‘democratic disturbance of the teacher-centred classroom…’to restructure education into something done by and with students rather than by the teacher for and over them’ (Shor, 1996, p.


ETBI Education Journal October 2019

motivation for the visibility of the council in schools (Fleming, 2015). This was followed by the inclusion of questionnaires for students in the more refined Whole-School Evaluation: Management, Leadership and Learning (WSEMLL) from 2010. This began to focus schools on the need to engage with student voice beyond any motivation for a rights-based or democratic framing within school culture but to fulfil the perceived demands of recently embedded external evaluation within the education landscape at second level (Fleming, 2015).

SCHOOL SELF-EVALUATION: School self-evaluation (SSE), mandated by the DES in 2012, it is argued became the most significant starting point and motivation for the increasing volume of student voice in postprimary schools. While led by school personnel, consultation with students (and parents) to identify school strengths and areas for improvement was clearly outlined in guideline documents, SSE presentations to school personnel, and in on-line support materials (SSE

Domains and Standards:

Looking at Our School 2016 A Quality Framework for Post-Primary Schools (Department of Education and Skills, 2016)


ETBI Education Journal October 2019

Guidelines, 2012). Through consultation with the school community, that included students, schools were required to develop a time-bound school-improvement plan (SIP) focusing on identified areas for development, and an SSE report of their strategies and progress in implementing that improvement plan.


STATEMENTS OF PRACTICE: LEARNER EXPERIENCES The statements of practice reference student voice in the classroom in the context of ‘learner experiences’ positioning students as active and reflective learners, goal setting and negotiating their own learning. The teacher is positioned as facilitator of individualised and personalised approaches and practices that…‘engage with students’ opinions, dispositions, and contexts, and modify their teaching practice to build on opportunities and address any limitations that they present’. (LAOS, 2016. p19)

SSE processes were further developed and integrated into the whole school by the publication of the more detailed evaluation framework: Looking at our School (2016). Through the provision of domains, standards and statements of practice, schools were directed towards ‘very good practice’ in a range of ‘quality areas’. Student voice became a significant presence within the statements of Statements of practice: Learner experiences

Looking at Our School 2016 A Quality Framework for Post-Primary Schools (Department of Education and Skills, 2016)


ETBI Education Journal October 2019

Statements of practice: Teachers individual practice

Looking at Our School 2016 A Quality Framework for Post-Primary Schools (Department of Education and Skills, 2016)

All DES inspectorate models and practices were ‘informed’ by the LAOS framework from 2017. The framework seeks to combine or facilitate complementarity between the outcomes of SSE and the range of external evaluations experienced by schools towards setting their own improvement roadmap.

and representative, and is a catalyst for change, with an active role in decision-making and policy development’ It is noteworthy that consultation with students regarding improving teaching, learning and assessment experiences is also viewed as very good practice. Highly effective schools leaders would…consult and engage with students to review and improve teaching, learning and assessment practices (LAOS, 2016, p 29.).

‘Taken together, the statements of effective practice and highly effective practice should enable teachers, school leaders, and others involved in internal or external evaluation to arrive at evidence-based evaluative judgements about the quality of aspects of a school’s provision’. (LAOS, 2016, p 8.)

These inclusions that could promote a culture of student voice and the potential for meaningful actions are a significant advancement for the voice of students in schools. This marks the first reference in education policy to a consultative and review role for students in their own classroom experiences and positioning them as stakeholders at whole-school level whose views are valued. Such a positioning is to be lauded. The challenge is clearly how these policy positions are enacted at school level from the

Significantly, from a school leadership perspective, the representative student voice is framed as recognising students as ‘stakeholders’, ‘involving’ them in the ‘operation of the school’. Similarly, very effective practice points to a student council that is ‘democratically elected


ETBI Education Journal October 2019

Domain: Leadership and management: Statements of practice: Developing leadership capacity

Looking at Our School 2016 A Quality Framework for Post-Primary Schools (Department of Education and Skills, 2016)

perspective of the student.

following WSEMLL report for a post-primary school provides an insight into the current inspectorate focus on student voice in external evaluation.


The language register of the LAOS document has begun to populate published post-primary school inspection reports. It is clear from a review of final published reports that inspectors are now asking schools about their student voice activities and initiatives in the context of evaluating school culture and climate. They are similarly seeking to evaluate student voice processes and initiatives within SSE in schools and in the context of the student council. The

Student leadership is promoted through the student council. The council is a well-organised group with regular meetings, and is actively involved in the review of relevant policies. The importance of student leadership is recognised by those in management roles, and it is very positive that the student council meets annually with the board of management. In interviews with the inspectors, as well as in their responses to the


ETBI Education Journal October 2019

school level risk tokenism and shallowness with limited impact on students’ experience of dialogic consultation, pre-figurative democratic practice, or the transformation of school culture. The primary motivation for schools to engage with student voice risks becoming compliance with the inspectorate’s evaluation framework towards a positive school report. Any right-based or pedagogical motivation could be diminished.

questionnaire, students strongly supported the importance of a focus on student voice, and this should be pursued so as to ensure their greater involvement in the operation of the school. The report clearly references student voice in one of its main recommendations as …The further development of student voice within the school should be pursued. Following the finalising of the report in advance of publication, the board of management is afforded an opportunity to respond to report recommendations. In this case the board provided a short statement in response to this particular recommendation…..The school will continue to develop initiatives which provide an opportunity for student voice. (WSEMLL report published 2018).


The revision of section 28 of the Education Act (1998) within the Education (Parent and Student Charter) Bill 2016 could act as a further policy motivation for schools to engage with and consult students on a range of school issues. The bill will amend Section 9 of the 1998 act to include among the functions of a school a requirement that a school must promote the involvement of parents and students in the education provided to students. A revision of section 28 (1) will ….’ensure that a school provides a quality experience for its students, embraces an inclusive role for parents and demonstrates how the school will relate to students they serve and to parents’. Significantly an amendment to section 27 of the act will….change the requirement on a student council from one of promoting the interests of the school to the promoting of the interests of the students of the school (General Scheme of an Education (Parent and Student Charter) Bill, 2016)

While this and other reports clearly position student voice within the evaluative gaze of the inspector, it is unclear at best whether there is a shared understanding of student leadership or what student voice might look like in this context. The lack of direction provided by the recommendation is complemented by the lack of detail in relation to the initiatives planned by the school. The report, while affirming student leadership in the context of the student council, provides no direction for the board to assist it in implementing the recommendation. It is argued therefore that there is clear risk of a motivation of accountability for the development of student voice in schools arising from its inclusion in an external evaluation framework. The enactment of initiatives and strategies at


ETBI Education Journal October 2019

The bill speaks to many elements of student voice including participation, positioning students at the centre of school life, inviting ‘feedback, comment and observations from students and parents and developing a listening culture in school’ and consulting with students (and their parents) to encourage their engagement in school planning and policy development (Developing a Parent and Student Charter: Briefing note, 2016).

the implementation of the Framework for Junior Cycle (2015). The Framework represents a significant curricular, pedagogical and assessment reform process that has been progressively advanced in post-primary schools since 2015. This skills and learning-outcomes focussed curriculum for lower secondary level places a considerable emphasis on formative assessment allowing a further opportunity for student voice, but significantly a student voice in pedagogy. The framework requires that students would have the opportunity to discuss their learning, negotiate learning intentions and success criteria and to engage in peer and selfassessment of their work in classrooms. Summative assessments are rebalanced to allow some elements of classroom-based assessment as an element of overall summative assessment practice.

The bill represents a significant legislative shift in the policy positioning of students in their schools. The repositioning of the role of the student council to one that promotes the interests of students in the school is equally significant. Once again a policy motivation, mandated centrally, speaks to the further integration of the voice of the student in the school.

The formative assessment emphasis…involves teachers and students reflecting on how learning is progressing and deciding next steps to ensure successful outcomes’ Teacher planning will require the development of…learning intentions and success criteria to be shared and discussed with their students’. These should be negotiated with students as an element of…formative assessment conversations in the classroom. Students should also be encouraged ...to reflect on how they are progressing in their own learning and provide feedback to their teachers’ (Framework for Junior Cycle, 2015 pp 29-36). Embedded here is the potential for a meaningful authentic student voice. It provides

CURRICULUM Pupil voice has a strong curricular foundation at primary level. Aistear, the early year’s curriculum, positions pupils as citizens with rights. This clearly reflects the UNCRC (1992). Aistear positions children as…citizens with rights and responsibilities. They have opinions that are worth listening to, and have the right to be involved in making decisions about matters which affect them. In this way, they have a right to experience democracy (Aistear, 2009, p 8). No such strong curricular position for students to have a voice in their learning and pedagogical experiences existed at post-primary level until


ETBI Education Journal October 2019

still one of motivation. Schools are required to comply with education policy. Therefore, a significant accountability motivation surrounds student voice developments and initiatives in schools. The challenge for school leadership is the motivation to vindicate the rights of the child‌to have a say in matters that affect them. The leadership challenge is to provide students with the right to express a view and the right to have the view given due weight (UNCRC, Article 12) at both classroom and at whole-school level. The challenge is also to provide a pre-figurative democratic experience based on whole-school consultation, inclusion, personalised learning and dialogic consultation in the classroom. The challenge is also to provide space within which students can express a view, voice to allow them to express their views, an audience that will listen, and that their expressed views will stimulate a response and action (Lundy, 2007)

WHILE ARISING INITIALLY FROM RIGHTS-BASED MOTIVATION AND THEN MANDATED CENTRALLY IN THE YEARS FOLLOWING, THE KEY CHALLENGE FOR SCHOOLS IS STILL ONE OF MOTIVATION. the opportunity to embed student voice in pedagogy in the classroom relational, interactive and pedagogical space between student and teacher in the context of co-constructing learning and teaching that is underpinned by equality, right and trust (Fleming, 2013) CONCLUSION The education policy progression for student voice in Ireland can be traced from the United Nations Convention and Charter on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC, 1989,1992), through the Education White Paper (1995), the Education Act (1998), The National Children’s Strategy (2000 and 2014), the inspectorate SSE and external evaluation initiatives, to the current Education (Parent and Student Charter) Bill (2016). The Framework for Junior Cycle (2015) provides a parallel opportunity to embed student voice in pedagogy.

This will certainly challenge established power and authority structures, and routines in schools but meaningful student voice initiatives have the potential to transform school culture. An embedded and meaningful student voice culture will significantly advance relationships, participation, pedagogical change and student outcomes and can equally satisfy the policy compliance demands outlined. With this motivation the tyranny of tokenism can be avoided. (Fleming, 2013).

While arising initially from rights-based motivation and then mandated centrally in the years following, the key challenge for schools is


ETBI Education Journal October 2019

Alexander, R. (2008). Essays on Pedagogy. Oxfordshire: Routledge. Cook-Sather, A. (2006). Sound, Presence, and Power: “Student Voice” in Educational Research and Reform. Curriculum Inquiry, 36, 359-390. Cook-Sather, A. (2002). Authorising Students’ Perspectives: Towards Trust, Dialogue, and Change in Education. Educational Researcher, 31, 3-14. Department of Education and Skills (DES) (2015). A Framework for Junior Cycle. Developing a Parent and Student Charter: Briefing note, 2016. Dublin: Government Publications. Education Act (1998). Dublin: Government Publications. Fielding, M. (1999). Radical collegiality: Affirming teaching as an inclusive professional practice. Australian Educational Researcher, 26(2), 1-34. Fielding, M. (2004). Transformative approaches to student voice: theoretical underpinnings, recalcitrant realities. British Educational Research Journal, 30 (2), 295-311. Fielding, M. (2011). Student voice and the possibility of radical democratic education: re-narrating forgotten histories, developing alternative futures. In Czerniawski, G. and Kidd, W. (eds.), The Student Voice Handbook: Bridging the Academic /Practitioner Divide. Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing Ltd. Fleming, D. (2013). Student Voice in Irish Post-Primary Schools – A Drama of Voices. University College Cork, Unpublished PhD thesis. Fleming, D. (2015). Student voice: An emerging discourse in Irish education policy. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, 8 (2), 223–242. General Scheme of an Education (Parent and Student Charter) Bill (2016). Dublin: Government Publications. Government of Ireland (1995). Charting our Education Future: White Paper on Education. Dublin: Government Publications. Government of Ireland (2014). Better Outcomes Brighter Futures - 2014 -2020: Dublin: Government Publications.


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Inspectorate (2012). School Self-Evaluation: Guidelines for Post-primary Schools. Dublin: Department of Education and Skills. Inspectorate (2016). Looking at our School: A Quality Framework for Post-primary Schools. Dublin: Department of Education and Skills. Keogh, A, and Whyte, J. (2005). Second level Student Councils in Ireland: A study of enablers, barriers and supports. Dublin: The Children’s Research Centre, Trinity College Dublin. Lundy, L. (2007). 'Voice’ is not enough: conceptualising Article 12 of the UnitedNations Convention on the Rights of the Child. British Educational Research Journal, 33, 927-942. McCowan, T. (2010). School democratization in prefigurative form: two Brazilian experiences. Education, Citizenship and Social Justice, 5, 21-41. National Children's Strategy (2000). Dublin: Government Publications. National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), (2009). Aistear: The Early Childhood Curriculum Framework. Dublin. Rudduck, J. (2005). Pupil voice is here to stay! Qualifications and Curriculum Authority QCA. (UK). Rudduck, J. and Flutter, J. (2000). Pupil Participation and Pupil Perspective: `carving a new order of experience’. Cambridge Journal of Education, 30(1), 75-89. Shor, I. (1996). When Students have Power: Negotiating Authority in Critical Pedagogy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. United Nations (1989). United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. United Nations (1992). United Nations Charter on the Rights of the Child.


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ETBI Education Journal October 2019

Listening, leadership and learning: Activating voice in the ‘Learner Voice Space’ framework Dr. Paula Flynn Assistant Professor in the School of Inclusive and Special Education in Dublin City University

There has been a growing significance in the importance of children’s rights especially influenced by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), 1989. The UNCRC challenged the treatment of children and sought to improve this by affirming their need for special consideration. Consequently, the convention enshrined a number of rights, including the right for young people to express their views on matters affecting them, and to have their opinions given due weight commensurate with age and maturity (Article 12, UNCRC).


expert role with respect to knowledge and understanding of what it is to be a student and acknowledges insights on their experience which only they can share (Shevlin & Rose, 2010). However, there is also a persuasive argument for student voice activity to go beyond ‘eliciting perspectives and insights’ from young people and move towards a more democratic process of shared collective responsibility in developing solutions on all education matters (Fielding 2015).

Pursuing opportunities in the education space to activate young people’s voices is not a new phenomenon and there is substantial research evidence that indicates this engagement has the potential to empower students to participate meaningfully and collaboratively in improving their experience of school (Tangen 2009). Consulting children and young people on matters that affect them in schools has been shown to encourage student engagement in learning and positively impact on teacherstudent relationships (Sebba & Robinson 2010).

Findings from research conducted in the Irish education context identify a significant role for school leaders in the pursuit of sustainable and meaningful student voice engagement (Flynn, 2017). A ‘bottom-up’ approach that facilitates

A prevailing argument for including students’ voices in education matters recognises their


ETBI Education Journal October 2019

in the power relations of discourse across student participation, consultation and education stakeholders both at national/policy partnership in decision-making and school level as well as within schools. improvement, is unrealizable without a ‘top down’ response that is committed both to The powerful impact evident from encountering facilitating opportunities for young people to be opportunities for shared understanding and heard and responding to what is shared and discourse across adults and young people on ‘learned’ as a consequence. Underpinning this education matters is evident from Irish research argument is the assumption that ‘listening’ is where students realised potential benefits when integral to the process of activating and their opinions were heard, and encountered an amplifying the voices of any group within authentic response to their views and input society or education. This assumption resonates (Flynn 2014). These benefits include: significant with the UN Committee on the Rights of the improvement in the quality of relationships with Child (2003, p.4) directive that ‘…appearing to teachers and their sense of belonging and listen to children is relatively unchallenging; connectedness to school; an improvement in self giving due weight to their views requires real -reported levels of confidence and wellbeing; a change’. It is important, however, that this heightened sense of being cared for and general potential relationship of listening and learning experience of comfort in their education between adults and young people is conducted environment. Significantly, the development and in partnership, in order to mitigate the sustainability of inclusive practice is strongly possibility of ‘adult’ rationality and inference or linked to our understanding of learning and the unintentional adulteration of young people’s experience of schools as perceived and perspectives (Flynn, 2014). Listening experienced by all students (Flynn, 2014). authentically requires subsequent affirmation Hearing and including the views of the hard to from the young person to confirm that what has reach student in particular, requires openbeen heard is minded, courageous and interpreted as it was strong leadership to foster THE DEVELOPMENT AND intended to be received. an inclusive and listening SUSTAINABILITY OF INCLUSIVE school culture. This necessitates more than ‘listening’ but PRACTICE IS STRONGLY LINKED Findings from an Irish study rather, a shared conducted with the National TO OUR UNDERSTANDING OF experience of Council for Curriculum understanding or LEARNING AND THE EXPERIENCE Council (NCCA) focusing on indeed co-construction OF SCHOOLS AS PERCEIVED AND a consultative process with of language. Such a EXPERIENCED BY ALL STUDENTS post-primary level students shift suggests changes on Junior Cycle Reform,


ETBI Education Journal October 2019

Table 1. The Learner Voice Space, adaptation of “Transformative Dialogue” Diagram (Flynn, 2017 p.30)


argues for encouragement and inclusion of student perspectives in education discourse within a framework of listening and learning for all participants; adults and young people. This framework, entitled, The Learner Voice Space, was designed with a presumption to influence change and transformative practice, and to foster leadership and agency within that

experience (Flynn, 2017, p.30). It has since been adapted and refined further to emphasise the inclusive nature of the model and acknowledge all ‘learner roles’ in dialogue together, which at school level may include students, parents and all teaching members of staff; and at system level, the addition of policy makers and state agencies, equally, as participant learners.


ETBI Education Journal October 2019

This ‘Learner Voice Space’ is an inclusive framework in which any student can be heard. It is predicated on the Lundy (2007) model for children’s rights participation with an emphasis on the importance of ‘space, voice, audience and influence’. However, it expands upon this model to provide a space in which all participants, i.e. children/young people and/or adults, are in dialogue together. Significant to this model is the presumption for ‘learning’ from each other as a consequence of ‘listening’. Therefore, all parties are ‘learners’.

IT IS CRUCIAL THAT SCHOOLS AND SCHOOL PERSONNEL ARE SUPPORTED TO PROMOTE STRUCTURES AND OPPORTUNITIES TO ACTIVATE AND ENCOURAGE STUDENT The emphasis on ‘process’ as opposed to the ‘product’ of dialogue is to avoid the potential for such activity to reside in the ‘latest initiative’ or ‘newest project’ space. On the contrary, it provides a framework for the establishment of a partnership response to managing and developing change, within a culture of embedded listening. School leaders, teachers and students are facilitated to work, discuss, listen to each other, and ‘learn’ from one another within this space which is designed to ‘activate’ all voices. It is crucial that schools and school personnel are supported to promote structures and opportunities to activate and encourage student voice engagement. At the time of writing, ‘student voice’ is a familiar concept in education discourse but with varying interpretations of that construct in practice across schools in Ireland (Flynn, 2017). Some Irish education conferences (e.g. NCCA 2017; ETBI 2018) have recently provided a platform for students and teachers to discuss their valuable experiences of best practice in establishing partnerships of learning and ‘learner voice space(s)’. Further dedicated opportunities for shared learning and expertise

Considerations which are integral to this framework include the following: • The provision of appropriate media and

channels of communication for children and young people to express their views • Constant checking and co-construction of

language and vocabulary to ensure it is appropriate for and understood by all participant learners • Avoidance of adult interpretation or

‘adulteration’ of what has been shared by young people. In dialogue with any underrepresented or potentially marginalized young person or group, it is particularly important to check understanding and interpretation to mitigate ‘selectiveness’ • Pursuit and establishment of a ‘listening

culture’ in which there is a focus on: process, rather than product, and with emphasis on all participants learning from each other and pursuing sustainable opportunities to share, listen and learn.


ETBI Education Journal October 2019

fostering a climate of listening for students in education discourse, is in the maintenance and progression of structures to ensure an authentic response to what has been heard. Embedding these structures as habitual practice will ensure a sustainable and credible approach to intergenerational dialogue, and a democratic, shared process of listening, learning and leadership.

across school clusters and regions could promote the establishment of more sustainable practice based on evidence and peer expertise. Education research has identified considerable commonality across aspirations and interests expressed by students and teachers in Irish schools when external opportunities are initiated for shared perspectives (Flynn, 2017). However, it has also indicated that young people and adults are often surprised by and interested in realizing where their views are similar and indeed, different. Similarly, both teachers and students commented on the fact that they learned more about the other cohort’s thinking on teaching and learning as a consequence of external activities than they would have had the opportunity to ascertain from routine school engagement (Flynn, 2017). Opportunities for students and teachers to share ideas and interrogate the learning space, provides tangible evidence of potential benefits in shared opportunities for communication, listening and being heard. These benefits resonate with Fielding’s (2015) call for ‘participatory traditions of democracy in schools through ‘patterns of partnership’ and the promotion of ‘active listening, recognition of shared concerns and collective responsibility for developing solutions’ (2015, p.26). Amplifying student voices within an inclusive framework of listening has the potential to position school leaders, teachers and students in a dialogical relationship of learning, i.e. the Learner Voice Space. The inherent challenge in


ETBI Education Journal October 2019

Fielding, M. (2015) ‘Student Voice as Deep Democracy’ in C. McLauglin (Ed.) The Connected School - a design for well-being: Supporting children and young people to flourish, thrive and achieve London: Pearson / National Children’s Bureau, 26-32. Flynn, P. (2014) ‘Empowerment and transformation for young people with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties engaged with student voice research’ New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies 49:2 162 – 175 Flynn, P. (2017) The Learner Voice Research Study. Embedding student voices in education discourse: Curricular co-construction and development, Dublin: NCCA Lundy, L. (2007) 'Voice' is not Enough: Conceptualising: Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the child. British Educational Research Journal, 33(6) 927 - 942. Sebba, J & Robinson, C, 2010, The Evaluation of UNICEF UK’s Rights Respecting Schools Award, London, UNICEF. Shevlin, M. & Rose, R. (2008) Pupils as Partners in Education Decision-Making: Responding to the Legislation in England and Ireland. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 23(4) 423-430. Tangen, R. (2009) Conceptualising Quality of School Life From Pupils' Perspective: A Four Dimensional Model. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 13(8) 829 - 844. United Nations (1989) Convention on the Rights of the Child. New York: United Nations General Assembly.


ETBI Education Journal October 2019


ETBI Education Journal October 2019

Contributors Norman Emerson Director Curriculum and Assessment NCCA Norman Emerson was a teacher, Head of Department, Deputy Head and National Development Officer before being appointed to lead the national development programme - ‘Assessment is for Learning’ in Scotland. The success of the programme in making significant changes to assessment practice was recognised in a number of Independent evaluations and praised by the Education Minister as a ‘quiet revolution’ in Scottish education. Following the merger of Learning and Teaching Scotland and the Inspectorate (HMI) in 2010, he was appointed to the post of Assistant Director within Education Scotland with responsibility for the new assessment arrangements as part of the Curriculum for Excellence programme. In March 2014, he was appointed to the post of Director - Assessment with the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment in the Republic of Ireland to support the introduction of new curriculum and assessment arrangements in post-primary schools.

Dr Domhnall Flemming School of Education UCC Domnall Fleming was a teacher at second-level from 1980 - 2002. He was appointed as an inspector with the Department of Education and Skills in 2002 and was conferred with a PhD in Education at UCC in 2013. In 2018 he took up a full-time lecturing post in the School of Education in UCC. Domnall’s research focus has been on student voice particularly in post-primary settings. Domnall is a member of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) Comhairle na nÓg National Executive Steering Committee focusing on student voice. He is also working with the Association of Community and Comprehensive Schools (ACCS) and Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI) on their student-voice initiatives. He is currently working with a network of voluntary secondary schools in Cork who are embarking on embedding a culture of voice for students in their schools.

Dr. Paula Flynn Assistant Professor in the School of Inclusive and Special Education in Dublin City University Paula Flynn (Ph. D.) is an Assistant Professor of Inclusive Education at DCU Institute of Education. Her research and teaching interests include: student/learner voice; children's rights-based methodologies; inclusive education; and leadership for learning. She taught English and Music at post primary level before embarking on doctoral research in 2008. Paula has led a number of research projects focussed on learner voice including: ‘Listening to students identified with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties’ (2008-12); NCCA research on the consultation of post primary students in the development of opportunities for curricular development (2014-17); NAPD research on cultivating a student voice culture to examine ‘trust, relationships and inclusion’ (2012-13); SCoTENs funded research on ‘Teachers’ beliefs about education and children’s voice practices on the island of Ireland’ (2015-18); and a recent study on ‘Supporting schools in preparation for and evaluation of change within a model of learner voice and theory of change’ (King & Flynn, 2018-2020).


ETBI Education Journal October 2019

Grรกinne Macken Junior Cycle for Teachers Grรกinne Macken is a seconded post-primary school teacher from Athlone Community College, Athlone. Currently working as Regional Team Leader for Whole School CPD with Junior Cycle for Teachers Support Service.

Veronica Walshe Deputy Principal, Colaiste Treasa, Cork Veronica began her career as a teacher of Science, Biology and Agricultural Science in Colรกiste Treasa, Kanturk Co.Cork in 2002. She was appointed Deputy Principal in Colรกiste Treasa in 2012. She completed Cohort 5 Instructional Leadership Programme in 2014. Veronica was part of a committee involved in developing and facilitating the EDISON Entrepreneurial Education programme. Since 2017 Colรกiste Treasa was a pilot school for NCCA/JCT Student Voice - A bridge to learning programme.


ETBI Education Journal October 2019


ETBI Education Journal October 2019


Journal of Education Produced by Education and Training Boards Ireland October 2019

Profile for etbi

Education and Training Boards Ireland - Journal of Education  

Volume 1:1 This first Journal of Education produced by Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI) concentrates on the theme of 'Student V...

Education and Training Boards Ireland - Journal of Education  

Volume 1:1 This first Journal of Education produced by Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI) concentrates on the theme of 'Student V...

Profile for etbi