There is great value in involving students in the planning and delivery of their college experience.
Students have a voice
Natspec colleges make sure that students are a vital part of the decision-making process, and that their views are taken into account when planning programmes, activities and provision.
Every Natspec colleges has a students’ union or council, or runs other ‘student voice’ activities to ensure that young people are part of the decision making at college. Some of the methods that colleges currently use include:
- Student representatives from different parts of a college are elected to their Students’ Union/Council and speak on behalf of their peers. These groups can be linked to the formal governance of the college, with a student representative on the Board of Governors.
- Some colleges support students to attend and speak at national events and conferences run by organisations such as the National Union of Students (NUS)
- Regular student forums on different topics, involving the whole college
- Students write and design their own newsletters
- Some colleges have a facility such as a ‘Big Brother booth’ for students to record their own video diary – e.g. on topics like “when is a lesson good”
- Students get involved with their local authority and wider democracy, for example through meeting their local councillors, sitting on local Equality Panels and engaging in local/national elections.
- Some students help assistive technology companies to design new products and develop new technologies
Natspec’s Student Voice Parliament
In May 2017, Natspec launched the National Student Voice Parliament. This Parliament has been established in partnership with NUS and will work to gather and promote the voice of students from Natspec colleges and to achieve a number of goals including:
- To gather, promote & share the high-quality student voice activities of individual colleges to improve sector-wide practice
- To ensure that the voice of students is heard and valued at a national level
- To help students from different colleges talk to each other about issues that are important to them; such as access to services, funding, transport, curriculum, future opportunities, sex & relationships and discrimination
- To give students experience of travelling to other places, working at a national level with partner organisations to use their voices and influence decision makers
- To allow students the opportunities to demonstrate their passion, skills and abilities and to become agents of change
It is currently planned that the Parliament will meet twice per year but members will be supported to keep in touch, continue discussions and explore new ideas through regular online forums and surveys.
If you would like to discuss how your students can get more involved in the work of the Student Voice Parliament, email Dan Baxter
The ‘A Right not a Fight’ campaign ran from 2014 to 2016 and included activities, ambassador training, meetings, press coverage and marches. The campaign called for students with a learning difficulty or disability to have the same choices that most young people take for granted, such as choosing a further education college that best meets their learning and support needs.
Following the success of this campaign, Natspec will be facilitating further student-led campaign activity in the future. This will be based on the discussions and key outputs of the Student Voice Parliament. The resulting campaign activity will seek to empower our students and embed learner voice more formally into our work. More information will be made available as we move forward with the Parliament.