The voice of specialist further education

Student Voice

There is great value in involving students in the planning and delivery of their college experience. We work to capture the student voice at national and local level.

Natspec’s Student Parliament

In May 2017 Natspec and the NUS established the National Student Voice Parliament. The parliament works to gather and promote the voice of students from Natspec Colleges. It meets twice a year. Member colleges across the country host the parliament and it is always well attended.

The goals of the parliament are to:

  • ensure students’ voices are heard and valued at a national level
  • help students from different colleges talk to each other about important issues
  • give students experience of travelling to other places and colleges
  • work at a national level with partner organisations such as the NUS
  • allow students to show their passion skills and abilities.

We encourage students to discuss what truly matters to them. Our students are the ones who know best what issues affect them and know what changes would make the most difference to them.

Topics that the parliament has discussed before include:

  • access to services
  • funding
  • transportation
  • college curriculum
  • future opportunities
  • sex and relationships
  • discrimination.

Natspec encourages sharing of best practice between colleges. The parliament also serves as a way to promote and share high-quality student voice activities of individual colleges. After sessions, we support our members to keep in touch and continue discussions. We also have an online forum where staff can discuss student voice projects.

If you would like to discuss how your students can get more involved in the work of the Student Voice Parliament, please get in touch at:

The video below shows our Student Parliament in action.

Students have a voice

Students at Natspec Colleges are a vital part of the decision-making process. So we make sure their views are taken into account when planning programmes, activities and provision.

Because of this, every Natspec college has a students’ union or council, or runs other ‘student voice’ activities. This ensures young people are part of the decision making at college. Some of the methods that colleges currently use include:

  • Students elect representatives for their Student’s Union / Council. Elected from different parts of the college, they speak on behalf of their peers. Students’ Unions and Councils can be linked to the formal governance of the college. There may be a student representative on the Board of Governors.
  • Some colleges support students to attend national events and conferences. Events like Natspec’s Student Voice Parliament provide an opportunity for students to speak and present their ideas. Additionally, students may have the opportunity to speak at events run by organisations such as the National Union of Students (NUS).
  • Regular student forums on different topics, involving the whole college.
  • Students writing and designing their own newsletters.
  • Some colleges have facilities for students to record their own video diary. Sometimes, this will be on a specific prompt –  for example, on topics like “when is a lesson good”
  • Students get involved with their local authority and wider democracy. They may meet their local councillors. Some may sit on local Equality Panels to offer their input. Engaging in local and national elections can also be a valuable way of making their voice heard.

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Speaking out and making a difference!


NUS is a confederation of over 600 students’ union from across the UK established in 1922. Throughout their almost 100 year history, the work of NUS has resulted in many positive changes within higher and further education, improving the lives of thousands of students.

Many of our own members are also affiliated to NUS and as such as able to access support in developing their own students’ unions / councils and embedding learner voice into their own college practices. If you are already a member of NUS and want to know more about their development support – or if you are interested in being affiliated to NUS in the future – contact the NUS. 

Read more about how you can use learner voice in your college and our student surveys. 

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