Submitting InstitutionUniversity of Cambridge
Unit of AssessmentEducation
Summary Impact TypeSocietal
Research Subject Area(s)
Education: Curriculum and Pedagogy, Specialist Studies In Education
Summary of the impact
From 2000 to 2003 Professor Jean Rudduck led a largely Cambridge-based
research team that investigated the potential of `student voice' to engage
learners. The `Consulting Pupils about Teaching and Learning' research
Network, funded by the ESRC's Teaching and Learning Research Programme,
trialled and evaluated strategies with teachers in a wide range of
schools. Take-up in the UK and abroad was extensive. This case study
focuses on the impact in Ontario, Canada; where the Ministry of Education
explicitly used the findings of Rudduck's research to mount an ambitious Student
Voice initiative (2008-); the success of this has led to date to the
Ministry providing some 6,000 grants to 800 schools to help build stronger
approaches to `student voice' into the infra-structure of its school
Research team and funding: Professor Jean Rudduck led the
ESRC-funded `Consulting Pupils about Teaching and Learning' network of
research projects (ESRC ref. L139251006). From 1994 she was Director of
Research and subsequently Professorial Fellow at Homerton College becoming
Professor of Education in the Faculty of Education, University of
Cambridge when the College formally `converged' with the Faculty in 2001;
she formally retired in 2004. Leading team members were: Professor
Madeleine Arnot (in post throughout and Professor of the Sociology of
Education since 2003), Professor Donald McIntyre (at Cambridge 1996 -
2007), and Professor John MacBeath (at Cambridge 2000 - 2012). Other
members of the research group included Helen Demetriou, Julia Flutter,
Kate Myers, Dave Pedder and Bethan Morgan (all Cambridge), Michael
Fielding, Sara Bragg (both Sussex University) and Diane Reay (King's
College London, joined Cambridge in 2005). Professor Rudduck and team
received £425k from ESRC 2000-2003; smaller-scale follow-ups from the ESRC
and others extended its life to 2005.
A Cambridge-based network of six related research projects.
Although interest in student voice had grown as a powerful way to engage
students in their learning, previous evidence had suggested that this was
difficult to bring about, especially in a context dominated by a
performance agenda. The aims of this new research, pursued collectively
through six projects, for which Rudduck provided overall direction, were
therefore to: (i) identify strategies to help teachers consult pupils
about teaching and learning; (ii) gather evidence of the power of pupils'
comments to improve teaching and learning; (iii) explore the impact of
consultation on pupils, teachers and schools; and (iv) develop ways of
building consultation into schools' organisational structures. The six
research projects (see 3.1), all carried out 2000-2003, embraced: (1) How
teachers responded to pupils' ideas on improving teaching and learning in
different subjects (McIntyre and Pedder — Cambridge); (2) Ways of
consulting pupils about teaching and learning (MacBeath, Myers and
Demetriou — Cambridge); (3) Pupil perspectives and participation: starting
and sustaining the process (Fielding and Bragg — Sussex); (4) The
potential of pupils to act as (co)researchers into the process of
delivering teaching and learning (Fielding and Bragg — Sussex); (5) How
the conditions of learning in school and classroom affected the identity
and participation of different groups of pupils (Arnot, Reay and Wang —
Cambridge); (6) Breaking new ground: innovative initiatives involving
pupil consultation and participation (Flutter — Cambridge). The team used
a range of strategies for gathering student perspectives, including
semi-structured interviews, focus groups and questionnaires (see 3.5).
These data were then analysed and fed back to schools so that school
leaders and teachers could act on them.
Rudduck also conducted a
meta-study for the research (see ref. 3.2) and, by way of dissemination,
gave lectures to some 10,000 teachers.
Summary of key findings: The research established that being able
to talk about their learning helped students to: develop a
stronger sense of membership, feel more positive about school and more
involved — the organisational dimension; created a stronger sense
of respect and self-worth so that they felt more positive about themselves
— the personal dimension; initiated a stronger sense of
self-as-learner so that they were better able to manage their own learning
— the pedagogic dimension; and produced a stronger sense of agency
so that they contributed to improvements in teaching and learning and
wider school matters — the political dimension. Benefits were also
apparent for teachers. These included: deeper insights into
young people's capabilities; the capacity to see the familiar from a
different angle; practical agendas for improvement; and a renewed sense of
excitement in teaching. (See 3.4)
Several research issues relating to the further development of "student
voice" were identified. These included problems in hearing the `quiet
voice' i.e. those students who were hesitant or reluctant to speak up in
schools which tended to value the more vociferous; the need to avoid the
creation of a `pupil voice' elite made up only of students who were the
most articulate; the importance of sustaining authenticity in the face of
pupils' scepticism; the importance of sharing data and/or offering
feedback to pupils about how their views were being acted upon; and the
need for trust and openness as pre-conditions for dialogue and action.
References to the research
End of Award Report
3.1 Rudduck, Jean. Consulting Students About Teaching and Learning:
Process, Impacts and Outcomes: ESRC Full Research Report,
L139251006. Swindon: ESRC [http://www.esrc.ac.uk/my-esrc/grants/L139251006/outputs/read/20b343e5-42ba-4221-ab1f-7c3578c052cd
; also accessible from http://www.esrc.ac.uk/my-esrc/grants/L139251006/read].
Evaluated as `Outstanding' by independent peer reviewers.
3.2 Rudduck, J. and McIntyre, D. (2007) Improving Learning Through
Consulting Pupils, London: Routledge (The major meta-study emerging
from the network's activities. Based on a mixture of empirical research
and theoretical insights, it argues the case for the transformative
potential of student voice initiatives. An Appendix lists 40 publications
emerging from the research). ISBN-13: 978-0-415-41616-0.
3.3 Flutter, J. and Rudduck, J. (2003) Consulting Pupils: What's in
it for schools? London: RoutledgeFalmer. (A book designed to make
issues of educational policy more accessible to practitioners). ISBN-13:
3.4 McIntyre, D., Pedder, D. and Rudduck, J. (2005) Pupil voice:
comfortable and uncomfortable learnings for teachers, Research Papers
in Education, 20, 2, 149-168. ISSN: 0267-1522.
3.5 MacBeath, J., Demetriou, H., Rudduck, J. and Myers, K. (2003) Consulting
Pupils: A toolkit for teachers, Cambridge: Pearson Publishing.
(Prepared for teachers interested in pursuing student voice in their own
classrooms and schools.) ISBN-13: 978-1-8574-9846-2
3.6 Fielding, M. and Bragg, S. (2003) Students as Researchers: Making
a Difference, Cambridge: Pearson Publishing. ISBN-13:
Details of the impact
A major educational policy development based on Cambridge Faculty of
Education research: We focus here on how policymakers in one
Canadian province used these research findings to build an infrastructure
for `student voice' in their school system. This became a very substantial
development emanating directly from the Cambridge research.
The Ontario Student Voice policy initiative, based on the
Cambridge research, was started by its Ministry of Education in
2008 with three components:
- Student Forums — implemented through regional forums held across the
province to gather student input on a variety of topics.
SpeakUp Projects - $1.2 million was allocated for student-led
- Minister's Student Advisory Council (MSAC) — composed of 60 students
(Grades 7-12) from across the province who continue to meet regularly
with the Minister of Education to share their ideas, particularly on
ways of strengthening student engagement.
Jean Courtney, Education Officer, Ontario Ministry and Team Lead for
their Student Voice Initiative provided an update in April 2013 (see 5.1).
In this she describes the activity that has derived from the application
of Cambridge's research findings:
"Over 6000 grants have been awarded to 800 schools in 72 school boards for
SpeakUp projects. To date, 41 Regional Student Forums have been
held in Ontario to bring students together to make recommendations
regarding student councils, student engagement, leadership, and the Civics
curriculum. Student feedback confirmed a desire to host forums. In
response, the Ministry has created kits which are distributed freely upon
request. A total of 2000 kits have been ordered by students and teachers.
Their recommendations have been shared with the Ministry and have resulted
in changes to SpeakUp project categories. The conversation
Strong testimony to the Impact of the Network's Research: Courtney
contacted Cambridge in 2006:
"I write to acknowledge the inspirational work of Jean Rudduck. I can
attest to the fact that the foundation of Ontario's Student Voice
initiative rests at the University of Cambridge. My connection with
Cambridge University began in 2006 when I sent an exploratory email to
Professor Jean Rudduck and Julia Flutter, co-authors of the
ground-breaking book, Consulting Pupils—What's in it for schools?
I discovered the publication while conducting a literature review on
student engagement as Ontario focused on reducing the number of early
The Ontario Ministry of Education then came to a financial arrangement
with the publisher to adapt the Consulting Pupils `Toolkit (see
3.5). More recently it has taken up the Students as Researchers
materials (see 3.6). Courtney acknowledged both:
"The Consulting Pupils Toolkit for Teachers (3.5) and the Students
as Researchers (3.6) resources inspired Ontario's student-led
collaborative inquiry effort. In 2012, the first Students as
Researchers Forum was piloted.... Findings from the pilot project
have led to transformative changes including modifications in transition
supports for aboriginal students in one school board quickly leading to
changes in other districts struggling with the same challenges. Since the
pilot, eleven Students as Researcher forums have trained student research
teams across the province. Research findings and recommended next steps
have been shared with their principals, school board teams and the
ministry. Interest grows".
Ontario's implementation of ideas about student voice has also sparked
very similar policy developments in Alberta, beginning in 2008 (see 5.3).
The broader context and policy implementation: In 2008,
TLRP Director Andrew Pollard summarised and explained interest amongst
policy-makers in the UK (see 5.4):
"The UK impact of work on pupil consultation has been very considerable in
the past few years, thanks largely to the work of this Network. In one
form or another it has been promoted by government departments and
agencies in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England. [...] In part
it caught a wave of teacher enthusiasm to innovate and to explore
alternative ways of developing educational quality. Indeed, the network
consistently worked with very high levels of teacher engagement in the
research process at all stages, and is a paradigm case of the benefits of
Sources to corroborate the impact
5.1 Letter dated 24 April 2013 [Supporting document 1] from Education
Officer, Ontario Ministry of Education, Canada [Nominated referee 1].
5.2 The website describing and supporting Ontario's SpeakUp
initiative can be found at www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/students/speakup/.
It also provides a comprehensive index to the wide range of projects that
have been conducted by students and teachers in Ontario's schools.
5.3 The website about the Alberta Speak Out project (The Alberta
Student Engagement Initiative) can be found at www.speakout.alberta.ca.
For date of commencement, see http://www.speakout.alberta.ca/Results.aspx
5.4 Pollard, A. (2008), Extended Review of `Improving Learning Through
Consulting Pupils', British Journal of Sociology of Education, 29,
3, 349-351. British Journal of Sociology of Education, Vol. 29, No. 3, May
2008, 349-351, DOI: 10.1080/01425690801966477