How to Develop Student Voice in Your Teaching

This article is the first in a series which aims to show teachers how they can develop their students’ voice on a range of different topics from the environmental to the political, personal to global.

Pupil politics in the classroom with Adobe Spark

Giving children the opportunity to learn about and discuss political issues in the classroom is the first step to giving them a voice in the future as they grow up to be active citizens. Adobe Spark is a great tool for students to debate political issues in a creative and engaging way, whilst also improving their traditional and digital literacy.

But why discuss politics in schools?

It is a time-honoured tradition for older generations to accuse younger generations of political apathy. Today, however, proponents of the “young people don’t care about politics” rhetoric have statistics on their side — statistics which reveal an alarmingly low turnout of young people in national elections.

But does refusing to vote indeed signal political apathy amongst the youth? Or is there another, emerging trend of pupil politics which favours activism and direct confrontation to casting a ballot? And is this new way of being a young, political citizen, more impactful in the long run or more damaging to a stable society?

Student Political Protest

Schools can help encourage children to take an active role in politics, starting in the classroom.

The tide of fake news that we have seen in recent years, much of which has led to political outcomes that young people don’t support, has disenfranchised huge swathes of young voters. If what we read is no longer to be trusted, and if the very mouth-pieces of those in charge can no longer be considered as trustworthy, who then should young people vote for?

Or put otherwise: why bother voting, if it means being part of a process that is rigged from the start?

What is Pupil Politics?

Taken from my book, Literacy Beyond the Classroom, Pupil Politics is a short and adaptable 5-lesson project using Adobe Spark which teaches students to become active citizens.

All resources and full planning are free and available on Adobe EdEx: Access complete Pupil Politics resources on EdEx

Linking ELA/English strongly to citizenship, this flexible project gives students a step-by-step way to learn about politics in the classroom, the importance of voting and the value of their voice. We explore these global issues and present the important role that schools play in getting pupils engaged with politics at an early age and motivating them to become an active voter at 18.

View a completed student example of Pupil Politics, The Healthy Minds Party by The Grange Primary:

Interview with David Price OBE

Interviewed for Pupil Politics is David Price OBE, a global thought leader, learning futurist and author, specialising in how organisations learn, innovate and make themselves fit for the future.

David asserts, “Should politics be part of the curriculum? Absolutely, but it should be way more radical, to explore values and attitudes. We’re at a point where we cannot take moral and ethical considerations out of the curriculum. It’s not about brainwashing kids to have a certain viewpoint. It’s about encouraging them to think for themselves at a time when the climate is suffering, and cultural understanding and politics are in a mess. It’s not about making them have one particular stance; it’s about them defining their own stance, being able to defend that stance and being able to accept opinions that are different from their own.”

Pupil Politics encourages students to explore and engage in political issues.

Student Debating Politics in School Classroom

Student Debating Politics in School Classroom

Here’s that resource link again: Access complete Pupil Politics resources on EdEx

If you enjoyed Pupil Politics, check out Literacy Beyond the Classroom, which improves English progress at Key Stage 2 by 3.75 times the UK national average. This innovative approach links global challenges to the five key National Curriculum areas in English: reports, instructions, persuasive language, fiction and poetry, and presentation skills, presenting ready-to-use lesson plans, exercises and activities to help teachers bring this concept to life in the primary classroom.

All projects can be completed using Adobe Spark. By teaching English in this practical, purposeful and meaningful way, we can inspire the YouTube generation to learn the literacy skills they need to influence the world around them and have a positive impact as global citizens.

Dominic is the Education Evangelist EMEA for Adobe Education. Before joining Adobe, Dominic found his passion for combining literacy with digital skills as a primary teacher both in the UK and internationally. From there, he was part of the first cohort on Emerge Education and used that as a springboard to start an education social enterprise. In 2018, he won the EDUCATE award from the Institute Of Education for a 4 month research project into improving KS2 writing using digital skills at 3.75 times the national average rate of progress.