Continuum: Listening to Learners – Student Voice

Completed: January 2011
Leader(s): Professor John Storan, Dr Petula Peters, Kathy Wright
Organisation: University of East London
URL: http://www.uel.ac.uk/continuum/projects/index.htm

The one day conference: Listening to Learners: Partnerships in Action, aimed to disseminate innovative work in progress as well as good practice from other projects and initiatives.

There were key note presentations from a number of speakers: researchers, academics and practitioners who provided details of current research (Pippa Lord), theoretical underpinnings (Michael Fielding), good practice (Gill Mullis and Laurie Goodlad). However the most important contributions came from young people, secondary school pupils, who presented during the plenary session and also facilitated the workshops.

Following the event a conference wiki (http://listeningtolearners) was set up to enable delegates to continue discussions and conversations on learner voice as well as a repository for conference materials.

There have been a number of reviews of the literature on learner voice undertaken by individuals and organisations.  The project review cannot claim to be comprehensive nor exhaustive but serves as a useful starting point in setting out the policy background and context to learner voice, the various typologies and theoretical frameworks that have been developed, as well as some of the methodological issues and ethical concerns associated with learner voice work.

Since 2007 UEL has been engaged in a case study of a student voice project, which is significant for three reasons:

  • it examines some of the tensions and ambiguities that exist when students are asked to become independent researchers;
  • it considers the extent to which student voice represents joint responsibility in the developments taking place or just the minority voices within pupil and teacher communities of practice;
  • it raises questions about societal values and the contrived distance between adults and children in different cultural contexts.