Publication - Consultation responses

Empowering Schools consultation: analysis of responses

Published: 30 Apr 2018
Directorate:
Children and Families Directorate
ISBN:
9781788518581

Independent analysis of the responses to the Empowering Schools consultation which ran from 7 November 2017 until 30 January 2018.

71 page PDF

617.5 kB

71 page PDF

617.5 kB

Contents
Empowering Schools consultation: analysis of responses
Pupil participation

71 page PDF

617.5 kB

Pupil participation

116. The consultation paper noted that the Education Bill will include provisions to ensure that the principles of pupil participation are pursued in every school. Ensuring the views of children and young people are included gives them an opportunity to participate in decisions and activities which influence policies or services that can impact on their lives. Participation contributes to their sense of belonging, helps communities to become stronger, and increases the likelihood that services will make a positive impact.

117. This will include a general duty on headteachers to promote and support pupil participation in specific aspects of education and school life. This general duty will be accompanied by key principles to support effective participation:

Summary

There was support, across all respondent types, for the Bill to include a requirement that all schools in Scotland pursue the principles of pupil participation. There was also support for pupil participation to be included in the Headteachers' Charter, although to a slightly lesser degree.

Respondents noted the importance of pupil participation, albeit some respondents noted this already happens in schools. Alongside this, there were comments on the importance of ensuring that pupil participation is fully inclusive and meaningful, as well as involving the wider community.

There was a degree of support for a general duty (rather than specific duties) as this would allow for innovative and new approaches to be trialled; specific duties were perceived by some respondents to be too prescriptive.

118. Respondents were asked:

Question 11a: Should the Bill include a requirement that all schools in Scotland pursue the principles of pupil participation set out in Chapter 3?

119. As demonstrated by Table 5, a much higher proportion of respondents agreed than disagreed that the Bill should include a requirement that all schools in Scotland pursue the principles of pupil participation set out in Chapter 3. This was consistent across all sub-groups.

Table 5: Question 11a

Yes No Don't know Not answered
Parent Council / Forum (103) 43 12 5 43
Local Authority (42) 11 7 3 21
Professional association / group (35) 12 2 1 20
Independent / 3rd sector (35) 12 2 2 19
School (25) 12 7 2 4
Representative organisation (13) 3 1 - 9
Further Education / Higher Education (11) 5 - - 6
Professional learning (7) 5 1 - 1
Other education (17) 8 - - 9
Other organisation (19) 5 - - 14
Individuals (367) 191 74 26 76
Total (674) 307 106 39 222

120. Respondents were also asked:

Question 11b: Should this be included in the Headteachers' Charter?

121. Table 6 shows that there is support across all sub-groups for pupil participation to be included in the Headteachers' Charter, although significant proportions of respondents opted not to provide a definitive answer to this question.

Table 6: Question 11b

Yes No Don't Know Not Answered
Parent Council / Forum (103) 31 22 10 40
Local Authority (42) 8 1 4 29
Professional association / group (35) 8 6 1 20
Independent / 3rd sector (35) 10 2 2 21
School (25) 9 6 5 5
Representative organisation (13) 3 1 - 9
Further Education / Higher Education (11) 5 - - 6
Professional learning (7) 4 1 1 1
Other education (17) 7 - - 10
Other organisation (19) 4 - - 15
Individuals (367) 151 92 42 82
Total (674) 240 131 65 238

122. Almost a third of respondents, across all sub-groups, noted the importance of pupil participation, although around a fifth noted that pupil participation already happens and so there is no need to legislate for it (this latter comment was made by higher proportions of respondents within local authorities, professional associations / groups, schools and headteachers). Smaller proportions of respondents also referred to pupil participation being included in HGIOS and GIRFEC or simply felt there is no need to include this in the Headteachers' Charter. There were some suggestions that rather than mandate pupil participation, it should be encouraged in schools where it does not currently happen.

123. Smaller proportions of respondents noted that pupil participation is encouraged, together with the sharing of good practice on pupil participation.

124. Small proportions of respondents commented that it is important to ensure that all young people are included and are able to be involved in pupil participation, that this must be meaningful rather than tokenistic and that this should also involve the wider community so that participation also takes place outwith the school environment. There were also some comments that pupils should be involved where relevant and appropriate or that they should not be allowed to dictate. For example, policy was not seen as an appropriate area for pupil involvement.

125. It was also felt the progress of pupil participation can be or should be checked through the school improvement and inspection processes.

126. Those who were supportive of mandating pupil participation felt this would ensure all schools work towards the same end and it would clarify what is expected of schools and pupils. However, there were also some suggestions that there is a need for guidance and exemplars to be provided.

127. The campaign response was opposed to the mandating of pupil participation.

Question 12: What are your thoughts on the proposal to create a general duty to support pupil participation, rather than specific duties to create Pupil Councils, committees etc…?

128. 530 respondents opted to provide commentary to this question, with around a third noting their support for a general duty and that this would be beneficial. Around a quarter of respondents across all sub-groups also noted that this would allow headteachers, teachers and pupils flexibility to suit their circumstances and to try new or different approaches to pupil participation. Support for a general duty came from all sub-groups, although higher proportions of parent councils / fora supported this than other groups. A small proportion of respondents commented that specific duties would be too prescriptive.

129. Small proportions of respondents noted that pupil participation already happens (highest among schools) or that legislation for pupil participation is not needed (highest among local authorities).

130. As at the previous question, there were some references to:

  • The need to ensure inclusion of all young people. There was also comment that pupil councils tend to be small and can exclude many pupils from participation.
  • The need for good practice examples that can be shared.
  • The need for meaningful pupil participation, not simply to be seen as a tick box exercise.
  • The need for pupil participation to be age and stage appropriate.

131. The campaign response noted that pupil participation already happens in schools and that there is no need for a general duty.


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