Deputy First Minister John Swinney at the launch of Excite.ed

More Say for Scottish School Pupils

In the Education Governance Review announcement made by the Deputy First Minister on 15 June, schools could be asked to look at the contribution children and young people can make to the way they are run.

The Scottish Government will consult on the requirement that every school pursues the principles of pupil participation, as recommended by children and young people in the recent Excite.ed report.

Excited.ed was produced with young people and children as part of the review into Education Governance for the Scottish Government by Children in Scotland, the Scottish Youth Parliament and Young Scot. The report was published on Thursday 15th June 2017 and announced in the Scottish Parliament by the Deputy First Minister, John Swinney.

Excite.ed, which involved months of research with young people and children, has been made available alongside the review’s evidence and includes additional ideas for educators, local authorities and parents. A copy of the report can be downloaded from the Scottish Government website.

The Excite.ed report and the review both highlighted a greater role for the community in schools to aid pupils to build skills and links with prospective employers and make a positive contribution in their local area.

Research within the report identified that 62 per cent of school pupils in Scotland feel they do not have the confidence to speak out at school and 72 per cent of school pupils supported the introduction of a school voting system. Over half (52 per cent) would like the opportunity to be involved in the design of classes and 47 per cent think placing suggestion boxes in schools is a great way to voice their opinions

The Education Governance Review also includes other areas which will help put children and young people at the heart of education system. These include:

  • Decisions which impact on their education should be made as close to children and young people as possible by people they know and where they have an opportunity to influence those decisions.
  • The Scottish Government will ensure that during the development of proposals they will continue to engage with children and young people– particularly when thinking about initial teacher education and professional development and the sorts of skills teachers need to work with children and young people.
  • Every school has a teacher or professional who has responsibility for promoting parental, family and community engagement.

Children in Scotland Chief Executive Jackie Brock said: “The report proves that, even when tackling a subject as potentially daunting as school governance, younger children have a vital contribution to make in shaping education policy and improving their experience of school life. We were delighted to partner Young Scot and the Scottish Youth Parliament in developing the report.”

Louise Macdonald, Chief Executive of Young Scot, said: “Young people should always be at the heart of decisions that affect them. We welcome the Deputy First Minister’s announcement that schools will be supported to promote and encourage pupil participation. As we’ve seen through local participatory budgeting exercises and through the Scottish Youth Parliament elections when young people are given an opportunity to make themselves heard they grab the opportunity with both hands.

Terri Smith MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, said: “It’s vital that young people remain at the forefront of any changes within education. We were delighted that young people were given the opportunity to participate in this consultation and we look forward to hearing how their views and opinions could be implemented to further support their journey through education.”

 

About Excite.Ed

Research was conducted by Young Scot, Children and Scotland and the Scottish Youth Parliament. The total sample size for the survey element was 522 young people in Scotland across 30 different local authorities. This survey was undertaken from September 2016 to January 2017.

Excited.ed involved working with children and young people to understand their perspectives as experts of their own experience, and to identify the changes needed in order for the Scottish Government to realise its ambition of an improved and fairer education system in Scotland.

A total of 27 engagements with schools were delivered through workshops and classroom packs, which reached 789 children and young people.

The seven key themes

  • Increased participation: Pupils want to have more of a say in the decisions that affect them both locally and nationally.
  • Equal access: Young people want to have access to the same resources, opportunities and support across schools both in the classroom and between schools.
  • Stress and mental health support: Education can be stressful for young people, participants strongly suggested on a number of occasions that schools can do more to support their mental health.
  • Relationships: Young people saw negativity in the relationships between pupils, peers, teachers, parents, heads and government and thought improving these dynamics offered more room for exploration.
  • Feedback: When being consulted or involved in decision making it is important that decision makers show that their input is valued and that they can affect change.
  • Choice in the curriculum: Young people want there to be more choice in the curriculum and see technology as a good way to support this.
  • Extra-curricular opportunities: Young people want to see the quality of engagement between schools and their local community improve and see this as a way to gain more extra-curricular opportunities.

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