Having a Say at School. Research on Pupil Councils in Scotland

The findings

The following lessons emerged on what effective highly regarded pupil councils have in common:


Research Briefings


Research Briefing Paper 1: Local Authorities and Pupil Councils

Research Briefing Paper 2: Characteristics of Pupil Councils

Research Briefing Paper 3: The Adult Advisor to Pupil Councils

Research Briefing Paper 4: Pupil Council 'Effectiveness' - Part One: Processes

Research Briefing Paper 5:Pupil Council Effectiveness' - Part Two: Outcomes

Final Technical Report

Councils of the Galaxy

The results were also communicated to pupils in a comic book sent to every school in Scotland in May 2010. Councils of the Galaxy shows an alien starship arriving on earth from planet Didactica to study democracy. This was followed by a second mailing to all schools in October 2010.



"The Children's Parliament welcomes this research into the efficacy of pupil councils which reflects our understanding of what children have told us about their own pupil council experiences. Pupil councils are only one route for effective participation which works best within a whole school environment that values and rewards participative practices. Rather than focusing on adult processes and creating 9 or 11 year old office-bearers, we need to focus our energy on helping children become confident, contributing individuals who are, at the same time, sharing valuable information that will inform the development of good practice across the whole school environment. Until children can freely - and respectfully - discuss their teaching and learning environments in an honest way, free of fear of rebuke or punishment, we are simply carrying out a tick box exercise. Where relationships between teachers and children are based on mutual respect and understanding, the pupil council then has the potential to really make a significant contribution to the life of the whole school.

We congratulate the researchers for this substantive piece of work which will hopefully ignite a constructive and purposeful conversation in Scotland about what we need to do to ensure pupil councils are truly effective places where children set the agenda and are central to making a difference in the life of their schools." - Cathy McCulloch, Director, The Children's Parliament

“Giving children a voice on matters affecting them, and encouraging them to speak up, is a crucial factor in ensuring their rights are respected. While we know they vary in terms of influence, pupil councils are one way that children can learn to articulate their thoughts, opinions, judgements and feelings, so that they are participants rather than pawns in the education system.” - Tam Baillie, Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People

"One of the key aspects of Curriculum for Excellence is the active engagement of young people in their own learning. Partly this is about involving them in assessing their own progress and making decisions about their next steps.  However, it is also about developing responsible citizens who play a critical role in the life of their school.  Pupil councils have a vital part to play in this."

  - Keir Bloomer, Vice-Convener Children in Scotland




Why this project?     The project’s objectives    The project to date
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