How to use this self-evaluation approach to improve practice?
Used effectively, this resource will support increased learner participation in self-evaluation and school improvement.
It will support schools to develop a culture and ethos underpinned by approaches which ensure children’s rights. Learner participation in self-evaluation and school improvement planning is fundamental to ensuring children’s rights within the school context.
The resource is grounded in Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which states that children have the right to have their opinions considered when adults are making decisions about things that affect them. Children and young people are the main recipients of all that our schools offer and deliver, they should therefore be involved in discussions about the wider life of the school. This requires giving them access to the evidence they need to make judgements and express informed views. This resource supports them to develop the skills required to analyse that evidence accurately.
Part one of the resource includes guidance for school staff and partners to support to support them in developing the right culture and ethos as a context for effective learner participation. It includes a definition features of highly-effective practice and challenge questions alongside case studies to support reflection and dialogue. There is guidance on supporting learners to engage in evidence gathering activities and to triangulate their evidence appropriately. The appendices included examples for further reading on this subject and an indication of how this resource links to How good is our school?(4th edition).
Children and young people become more confident and enthusiastic when they see that their views are being taken seriously and acted upon. This resource will support schools to move beyond the work of pupil councils to ensure all learners have a strong voice in shaping their learning and the future development of their school.
Part two of the resource is a framework built around 5 themes selected by children and young people during a series of workshops. The themes are the things they thought it was most important to have a say in about their school. They are:
- Our relationships
- Our learning and teaching
- Our school and community
- Our health and wellbeing
- Our successes and achievements.
Each theme contains features of highly-effective practice, suggestions of activities for gathering evidence and discussion questions. Using this framework and with support from staff and partners, children and young people can meaningfully contribute to school self-evaluation.
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How to use this approach to improve practice
Improvements in learner participation should be an aspect of the school improvement plan. Staff should work in collaboration with learners, parents and partners to agree how this resource will be used to improve self-evaluation. The first stage is to evaluate the ethos and culture of the school using the features of highly-effective practice and challenge questions in Part one. These tools will support you to create the right culture for meaningful learner participation. Perhaps a working group of staff, learners and partners can take responsibility for leading this work. This could be an important leadership development opportunity for one or two staff members and for learners. There is scope to develop practitioner enquiry through further research and analysis of your school’s approaches to ensuring children’s rights and learner participation.
Part two of the resource is intended to be used to support children and young people to get directly involved in gathering evidence. How this will be achieved needs to be planned and agreed with staff and others in the school community. Schools can choose to look at one theme in detail or have different groups of learners investigate different themes to gain a broader view of what is working well and what needs to be improved.
Developing children and young people’s skills in self-evaluation should be embedded within learning and teaching. Learners can engage in dialogue, create surveys, plan activities and analyse and their present evidence as part of their learning. Their participation in self-evaluation should not be seen as an additional aspect of school life but as a rich and meaningful context for learning.
It is important that staff, learners and others work together to plan how the resource will be used and to ensure learners understand their role in taking forward improvements as well as carrying out self-evaluation.