Pupil Voice Groups: The Impact on Schools and Students





students, pupil voice groups, education, primary education


Over 30 years ago, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child passed legislation allowing children under the age of 18 to express their concerns in circumstances and decisions that affect them. Because one impact on children under the age of 18 is the educational system, Scotland education has integrated opportunities for students to be involved in the educational process. Pupil voice groups are one of the techniques that have been implemented in Scotland and throughout Europe. These groups allow students to have a voice in their education that may impact development. Researchers sought to identify the impacts of pupil voice groups on student development, the surrounding community, and the school. Researchers identified primary school students from years P-3 to P-6 (7 to 12 years of age) involved in pupil voice groups. Data were collected through focus group interviews, in which themes surrounding benefits, drawbacks, and impacts on the school and community emerged. Results indicated that these groups improve the school and community, and students believe these opportunities allow them to share their opinions on their education. The researchers recommend that further research should examine the perceptions of previously interviewed students towards involvement in pupil voice groups, and the use of pupil voice groups outside of the United Kingdom.


Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Prentice-Hall.

Education Scotland. (2018). Learner participation in educational settings (3–18). National Improvement Hub. https://education.gov.scot/improvement/self-evaluation/learner-participation-in-educational-settings-3-18/

Education Scotland. (2020). What is curriculum for excellence?. https://education.gov.scot/education-scotland/scottish-education-system/policy-for-scottish-education/policy-drivers/cfe-building-from-the-statement-appendix-incl-btc1-5/what-is-curriculum-for-excellence

Fielding, M. (2001). Beyond the rhetoric of student voice: New departures or new constraints in the transformation of 21st century schooling?, FORUM, 43(2), 100–112. https://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2001.43.2.1

Hart, R. A. (1992). Children's participation: From tokenism to citizenship. Innocenti Essay, No. 4. International Child Development Centre. https://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/100-childrens-participation-from-tokenism-to-citizenship.html

Hulme, M., McKinney, S., Hall, S., & Cross, B. (2011). Pupil participation in Scottish schools: How far have we come?. Improving Schools, 14(2), 130–144. https://doi.org/10.1177/1365480211406880/

Lincoln, Y. S., & Guba, E. G. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. Sage Publications.

Marsh, H. (2012). Relationships for learning: Using pupil voice to define teacher−pupil relationships that enhance pupil engagement. Management in Education, 26(3), 161–163. https://doi.org/10.1177/0892020612445702

Mcintyre, D., Pedder, D., & Rudduck, J. (2005). Pupil voice: Comfortable and uncomfortable learnings for teachers. Research Papers in Education, 20(2), 149–168. https://doi.org/10.1080/02671520500077970

Noyes, A. (2005). Pupil voice: Purpose, power and the possibilities for democratic schooling. British Educational Research Journal, 31(4), 533–540. https://doi.org/10.1080/01411920500153614

Pittman, K., & Wright, M. (1991). Bridging the gap: A rationale for enhancing the role of community organizations in promoting youth development. Center for Youth development and Policy Research.

Schunk, D. H. (2001). Social cognitive theory and self-regulated learning. In B. J. Zimmerman & D. H. Schunk (Eds.), Self regulated learning and academic achievement: Theoretical perspectives (2nd ed., pp. 125–151). Erlbaum.

Schunk, D. H. (2012). Learning theories: An educational perspective (6th ed.). Pearson Education.

Schunk, D. H. (2020). Learning theories: An educational perspective (8th ed.). Pearson Education.

Schunk, D. H., & Pajares, F. (2002). The development of academic self-efficacy. In A. Wigfield & J. S. Eccles (Eds.), Development of academic motivation (pp. 15–31). Academic Press.

Scotland.org. (2020). Scottish Education and school systems. https://www.scotland.org/live-in-scotland/school-systems

Scottish Executive. (2005). Protecting children and young people: Child protection committees. Scottish Executive: Edinburgh.

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, November 20, 1989. https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx

Whitty, G., and Wisby, E. (2007). Whose voice? An exploration of the current policy interest in pupil involvement in school decision-making. International Studies in Sociology of Education, 17(3), 303–319. https://doi.org/10.1080/09620210701543957






Feature Articles