Pupil Voice as a concept has emerged strongly recently – according to the DfE the idea is focused on ‘increasing the influence of students in the provision of their own education’, and is codified in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the subsequent Children’s Act in the UK.
At Speakr we are all about Pupil Voice, as it speaks to the core purpose of what we do. When we were researching the existing systems and services in UK education we were struck by the fact that virtually all of them gathered data about children, but none (as far as we could see) from the child’s perspective. We wanted to redress this balance, and this is one of the primary reasons that Speakr exists.
There are a lot of great teaching resources to help schools to engage children in activities, discussions, and school councils, and these are invaluable ways of teaching citizenship in the school community.
For a significant minority of children however, contribution in these forums remains a challenge – despite the best efforts of members of staff, discussion groups can be dominated by the confident children with a lot to say.
The fact that children of Primary School age have increasing access to technology at home and in the school, and as our own research has shown – that children share what’s on their mind much more readily online than they do in face to face discussion with adults gives us an opportunity to engage children through a medium in which they are already comfortable.
Many schools have invested in survey software to gain an understanding of what children think about particular aspects of school life, and this is a great way to engage ‘digital natives’.
The Speakr system has an integrated poll feature, which enables schools to ask a question of its registered pupils and have the responses back a few minutes after children have logged into the system and recorded how they feel, and what’s on their minds. This is what it looks like:
If you're interested in what children said in response to this question, the results are here.
Every registered school in Speakr has its on secure website, and can ask its pupils an unlimited number of poll questions (which children answer one at a time), and see responses in real time, which are recorded for future reference.
Every part of Speakr contributes to Pupil Voice – the first screen children see encourages pupils to log how they’re feeling and what they’re thinking:
The messaging system enables children to contact members of staff in confidence (messages are only sent between pupils and members of staff – there is no messaging between children, and Head Teachers, Deputy Heads, SENCOs and so on can monitor all messages) without attracting the attention of other children:
Recording and reporting on Pupil Voice, and Pupil Engagement is a lot of work – Speakr can free teaching staff from the usual admin involved so that more time can be spent on educating our children.