The voice of specialist further education

Learner Voice

Encouraging learners to advocate for themselves and their peers contributes to the development of a range of abilities including social and communication skills, an understanding of citizenship, problem solving and team working. Most importantly it contributes to the skillset learners will need in their post-college adult lives.

Natspec supports colleges in their work promoting, listening, and responding to the voice of their learners through the National Student Voice Parliament, a Learner Voice Practitioner Network and through providing practical tools and resources.

Learner voice activities in colleges are very broad and often include:

  • learner forums or councils who meet with senior leaders
  • learner representation on college governing bodies
  • involving learners in colleges’ self-evaluation processes
  • assessments for and of learning
  • the focused development of learner self-advocacy skills

Natspec Student Voice Parliament

a bright mulitcoloured graphic, with a group of people stating 'uniting our voices for greater choices' in a speechbubble

Established in 2017, the Parliament meets twice a year. The agenda is set by members and different colleges chair each meeting. The last Parliament was attended by 150 learners across 40 different specialist colleges in England and Wales.

In April 2021, the Parliament responded to the UK Government Disability Strategy Survey on what they thought would improve quality of life for young disabled people. In December, they wrote to the Minister for Transport to invite him to meet with them to talk about how not being able to use bus passes until after 9.30am is detrimental to their ability to get to college and work on time. They told him the rule restricts opportunities to learn, develop independence and key employability skills, as well as negatively impacting finances, in terms of what they spend on transport and opportunities to earn.

The Parliament is supported by the National Union of Students (NUS).

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Learner Voice Practitioner Network

Many colleges identify at least one member of staff who has responsibility for developing and implementing dedicated learner voice activities within programmes and across wider college experiences.

The Learner Voice Practitioner Network share ideas and approaches and work together for example by visiting other colleges with members of Student Councils.

In September each year an introductory workshop is held for college staff new to learner voice activities.

Learner voice practitioner network

9 June 2022
This day is for Learner Voice Practitioners working in Natspec colleges. This is an opportunity to meet other practitioners, hear about their work and share ideas around best practice. If you have any specific agenda items you’d like to be added, please email This event will be face to face, with venue to be confirmed. […]


Natspec has developed resources to support colleges in listening and responding to learner voices.

If you would like to discuss how the voice of your learners can be developed, please get in touch at

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