Director's Message - Student Voice

Innovation; Research
Student Voice

As Michael Fullan (1991) writes, “When adults think of students, they think of them as potential beneficiaries of change... they rarely think of students as participants in a process of school change and organizational life.”

Student voice is a deeper level of engagement with and trust in students. It involves genuinely partnering with them and authorising them to bring about meaningful change to improve their experience of schooling and to increase the level of agency over their own learning.

Student Voice can be a powerful driver for:
  • student engagement and inclusion
  • improving school culture
  • improving student learning
  • school improvement
  • civic engagement and social responsibility.
Many schools are taking steps to involve students as genuine and active partners in their education. As Mitra (2004) observes, in its modern interpretation, student voice is focused predominantly on the design, facilitation and improvement of learning.

Students have a unique perspective on their experience of schooling that needs to be given voice.  Their collective energy, optimism and ideas should be welcomed and harnessed in the processes of school improvement. It is particularly important for students to express their opinions and make decisions regarding the planning, implementation, and evaluation of their experience of teaching and learning.

We are committed to supporting students to become partners in the processes of creating vibrant learning communities and transforming education. Many educational leaders are seeking ideas on how they might better engage their students in this way.

In term three, Bastow will offer opportunities for educational leaders and students to learn how to make these aspirations come to life in their schools and to learn from those further along in the journey.

If your school has a culture of student voice with examples of students as partners and allies in school improvement and where they are directly influencing the quality of teaching and learning please email Chris Dickinson so we can learn about what you’re students are doing to improve schools. We look forward to hearing from you.

Bruce Armstrong
Bastow Institute of Educational Leadership



Fletcher, A. 2005. Meaningful student involvement: Guide to students as partners in school change. Olympia, WA: CommonAction. p. 4. from

Fullan, M. 1991. The New Meaning Of Educational Change. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Mitra, D. & Frick, W. 2004, A Typology of Student Voice in School Reform, iNet online conference papers, <>.

West, L. 2004, The Learner’s Voice. Making Space? Challenging Space? From the Keynote Address, 2004, Canterbury Action Research Network (CANTARNET) Conference, reported in The Enquirer, Spring 2005 <>.