In practice, the SLC at Passmores, called the Student Pedagogy Team (or what the students referred to as the StuPed Team), has evolved over five years in response to reflections and feedback from both students and staff within the school, as well as the case study conducted at the end of the second year.
In this time the SLC has contributed to changing the professional culture of the school by encouraging the mutual learning of students and teachers and providing spaces where teachers and students can discuss learning in practical and dynamic ways. Members of the team have also visited other schools and presented at conferences, providing opportunities for them to learn from others outside of their school community and to contribute to the broader conversation about improving education in the UK.
“...students don’t understand how much time teachers spend, it has opened my eyes a bit more on the planning. You spend an hour on a plan for each lesson, it is quite difficult to do.” - SLC member
Notably, the SLC from its outset was aligned with the newly appointed Pedagogy Team - a group of five Pedagogy Leaders who were classroom teachers with an interest and expertise in developing teaching and learning within the school. This provided an existing distributed leadership structure that encouraged a bottom-up approach and offered a fitting platform for the involvement of student leaders.
“...seeing teaching styles and how teachers do things... get more insight into it. When there are misbehaving students, you can see how it affects others, you don’t really see how much the lesson gets disrupted usually.” - SLC member
The application process was developed in order to strike a balance between self-selection and teacher invitations to ensure that members are intrinsically motivated to contribute but that varied perspectives are also represented. By having a clear description and purpose for each role, negotiated by students, each member of the SLC could focus their involvement in the team and share their ideas in a more structured manner through individual teacher-student dialogue, by adding to the school’s Teaching & Learning website and social media, and by engaging in staff CPD sessions and conferences. These roles organically evolved in line with the school’s improvement foci and more specifically, with the focus areas within departments and for individual teachers. In this respect, it was more effective for students in the team to work closely with nominated departments in co-planning. Within their particular roles, by assigning students to a specific group of self-selecting staff across a full year, students could see the impact of their contributions and develop meaningful learning relationships.
The team play an integral role in the Professional Learning (CPD) programme within school. For example, in one session students explained the findings of a student learning questionnaire they had conducted across a sample of the student body and then engaged in a Q&A session to clarify interpretations, elaborate upon their findings and provide further ideas and considerations for staff concerning the quality of learning in school. However, the success of their role in CPD and in learning relationships with teachers hinged upon the school’s ability to provide students with specific training in dialogic skills (e.g. asking meaningful learning questions), leadership, and the use of social media for learning. As such, the team meets every fortnight to engage in ‘bitesize’ leadership sessions and to discuss their progress. This year, they also attended a Student Leadership Summit at the Education Faculty, University of Cambridge, where they redesigned their vision and mission statement and engaged in workshops on developing professional dialogue and learning from and contributing to networks outside of their school.
Importantly, the current SLC sits within a larger student leadership model at the school in order to increase visibility of our student leaders, to enhance student agency and encourage self- responsibility and accountability. Every student team has two student leaders who sit on the Student Leadership Team (StLT) and attend meetings every three weeks to provide updates on their progress, feed forward issues and concerns to Senior Leadership Team, and feedback on questions and discussion topics from SLT.
"The opportunity to involve students in their teaching and learning experience must be explored and used to increase student attainment by offering them the opportunity to take ownership of their learning, by having the chance to influence the teaching and learning approaches and strategies that they experience. This leads to heightened levels of student motivation and engagement and decreases incidents of low-level disruption in the classroom by establishing a positive classroom climate that has been built on a mutual respect and rapport." - Teacher
For more information on the case study research on this SLC go to https://www.educ.cam.ac.uk/networks/lfl/about/inform/PDFs/InForm18-SLC-Project.pdf