Our Voice is a pupil research group currently made up of a small group of KS2 pupils. The research group is in its third year and was started by Ms Potts when she was studying for a Master’s degree at Cambridge University. Children in her class were interested in the social research she was doing so she set up the group, giving children a chance to learn research skills and apply them to their own projects.
The aim of the Group is to give Bengeo pupils a say on some of the decisions that affect them in terms of School policy and practice, for example, homework, sports provision, uniform, assemblies, lesson design, etc. With the support of Ms Potts, the children gather the views of other pupils on their own topic or a topic currently being considered by school leaders. They then analyse the results and create a powerpoint report representing the views of the pupils, sometimes including recommendations. All school leaders have made a commitment to listen carefully and to consider the implications of the research when making decisions. For example, some big changes were made to singing assembly as a consequence of the research, the homework policy was updated to include subjects other than maths and English, and new books were bought based on pupil preference.
The first group presented their research to students and academics at Cambridge University. The audience were enormously impressed with the quality of their research and the professionalism with which they presented it. It is hoped that Bengeo Primary will remain a beacon of good practice in this area. Their presentations on singing assembly, genre preference, uniform, dance, homework and social media can be seen here in addition to more recent research. Currently Our Voice is researching pupils’ views on plastic use and on ‘bubbles’ (Summer 21).
In 2021, Our Voice replaced the School Council as the voice of Bengeo pupils as it was felt that a more representative view on important issues could be better managed by a research group. From September 2021, any KS2 pupil may join Our Voice and be trained in social research methods providing they are happy to make a weekly lunchtime commitment and have a passion for ensuring that pupils have their say. Children from all year groups, where appropriate, may be asked to complete questionnaires or be interviewed and teachers will ensure that they are supported in giving their own views.