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Pupil Participation/Voice

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This Best Practice Guide contains some good examples of including children and young people in decision-making.
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Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) sets out the right of children and young people to express an opinion and to have that opinion taken into account on any matter that affects them.

The Welsh Government (WG) has formally adopted the UNCRC as the basis of all its work.

This commitment has been emphasised in ‘Rights to Action’ 2004, and more recently in Partnership and Planning Guidance under the Children Act 2004. The recently launched UNCRC Action Plan for Wales ‘Getting it right’ sets out how WG and it partners will take forward actions to strengthen participation and increase opportunities for all children and young people in Wales in decision-making.

The School Councils (Wales)  

The School Councils (Wales) Regulations, 2005 made it a statutory requirement for all maintained schools in Wales to have a school council. So that pupil voice is represented in the development of school policies and procedures. 

Participation in a school context is far wider than the school council.  Schools should aim to develop holistic models so that all pupils have the opportunity to take part in consultation and decision-making. This can include work with the Senior Management Team and Governors to implement and review key policies. The opportunity to be active on the school council and other representative groups (e.g. Healthy Schools and Eco-schools) and involvement in peer support and education.

Research and case study examples suggest that developing children and young people’s participation is beneficial for individuals, organisations and communities. Pupils who participate in decision-making enjoy enhanced self-esteem and motivation, gain important personal, social and organisational skills, and become familiar with group and democratic processes. 

At the organisational level, pupil involvement in decision-making leads to better relationships, more relevant and effective policies, and better learning. In the best scenarios, pupils and adults work together as partners to ensure that their school provides the best possible learning environment for all. Pupils have an important part to play in helping their school to improve in every aspect of school life.

The Pupil Participation Project:

The WG Pupil Participation Project supports schools in enabling children and young people to have a voice and to participate in decisions that affect them, as set out in Article 12 of the UNCRC. The project aims to do this in the following ways:

  • producing information, guidance and materials for children, young people and the adults who support them. The main source of information is the Pupil Voice Wales web-site (www.pupilvoicewales.org.uk)

  • working with colleagues both inside WG and externally to ensure that pupil participation is central to the development of key educational policies and approaches, in particular the School Effectiveness Framework

  • supporting and developing a network of professionals in local authorities across Wales, who can promote and support the development of effective models of pupil participation at the local level

  • developing and disseminating training materials so that adults playing a key role in schools - particularly teachers and governors - understand what effective pupil participation looks like, how it contributes to children and young people’s well-being, and how this can be developed in their school. 

For further information, please contact the Rights and Entitlements Branch (RightsandEntitlementsBranch@Wales.gsi.gov.uk) or go to the Pupil Voice Wales web-site (www.pupilvoicewales.org.uk) (external link)