Student Voice International Conference through Hungarian Eyes

We participated in the conference in Dublin castle with about 130 colleagues in December 2017. It was very creatively organized. We got to know teachers and other professionals from all the participating countries and exchanged ideas about Student Voice. Most countries face similar problems in their educational systems and to introduce new methodologies prove to be difficult in each cultural context. Several students were also present from the schools which apply student voice approach.

Norman Emerson the Head of NCCA talked about the general and specific aims of the project, past and future activities. He emphasised that all the countries follow their own directions, but these directions cross each other at several meeting points (underground map). He also emphasised professional learning and sharing of good experiences. The key idea of SV is to place students in the centre of teaching process, not the curriculum. We can sustain the development with using top down as well as bottom up strategies, and the created processes should support and strengthen each other. Middle management has a key role in the successful implementation of the teaching processes.

We also listened to Paula Flynn, the Head of Centre for Inclusion and Intellectual Disability. She presented the Lundy model, which is the theoretical basis of the project and the research over 3 years, that aimed to find the best ways to talk successfully to students about curriculum and curriculum development. They asked 350 students from 20 schools connected to the Junior Cycle curriculum.

Gal Halbert’s presentation was more interactive, his main aim was to finalise, to understand and to use the definition of Student Voice. He asked the following questions:

  • Why is Students Voice important?
  • Where are students’ voices heard in schools?
  • Whose voices are heard?

The final definition of SV that we agreed on:

“The Erasmus Project, ‘Student Voice -The Bridge’ - is taking a collaborative, inclusive approach to developing enhanced student voice in our classrooms and across our schools. Our students and teachers feel empowered, develop a range of skills, and are supported in becoming self-directed learners and active citizens. As part of this process our students play a meaningful role in collaborating with their teachers in shaping the curriculum and culture at a class and whole-school level.”

The most exciting part of the conference was when participants had a chance to take part in a real SV English literature lesson. The topic was ISOLATION. They had to pretend to be an isolated group within society (like elderly, young mothers, homeless people or Roma), then they talked about a play called ‘The bog of cats’.