Henry Hepburn

Pupil voice: how can we listen better?

For years, Scottish schools have been talking about prioritising ‘student voice’ – but how many are really listening? In too many cases, it seems, pupil councils have become easy-to-ignore talking shops. Henry Hepburn visits a student conference to find out what having an influence in school really means to young people – and what they would change if they were given the chance

How to listen better

Scottish education conferences all tend to have some things in common: malfunctioning technology, an inability to stick to timings and bizarre catering choices – most memorably, the jam doughnuts piled high for the break at a healthy-eating seminar.

Over the years, there’s been another common feature: a lack of students. They are frequently mentioned, of course, but often in abstract terms. You hear about the numbers gaining certain qualifications or living in poverty or facing mental health problems. There is always genuine concern for them, whatever the issue, but “young people” often ...

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