A Review of
"How to Improve Your
School: Giving Pupils a Voice"
Meaningful Student Involvement Research Review by Adam Fletcher.
to Improve Your School successfully argues that a range
of circumstances necessitates that students must been seen and engaged
differently than ever before, and that schools can and should change
to encourage that transformation. The authors
draw on a variety of evidence in a comprehensive
examination of the roles of students today,
offering detailed accounts of students’ ability to actively contribute
to school change.
Despite being centered on school reform in
the UK, How to Improve Your School
is the seminal
publication regarding student inclusive school change. The authors
successfully navigate a wide variety of information, from the history
of young people involved in formalized learning to the current
activities, assumptions, and advocates calling for Meaningful Student
Involvement. Their succinct accounts offer a strong foundation from
which a wide range of research and advocacy can be conducted. This is
the most comprehensive scan of what student inclusive school change
looks like in schools today. Rudduck and Flutter spend several
chapters explaining research that consulted students in school
change. The program, called The Learning School, explored
three successive groups of young people who evaluated secondary
schools around the world. After being trained in basic research
methods, student researchers spent six weeks in teams looking at each
of the eight schools. Important barriers are also identified. This
project demonstrated that not only are students taking different roles
in schools, but that it is also important to think and reflect on
aspects of learning that are important to them (p28).
Another project highlighted
the way meaningful student involvement actually transformed U.K.
schools by tracking the changes in policy and practice that reflected
students’ comments. According to the authors, teachers gain a variety
of benefits from student inclusive school change that include:
A more open perception of
young people’s capabilities;
A readiness to change
thinking and practice in light of these perceptions;
A practical agenda for
improvement and a renewed sense of excitement in teaching (p152).
The book continues
by mapping the multiple dimensions through which students can
influence change, provide multiple arguments for
young people’s involvement, and identify
multiple issues and agendas that student involvement advocates seek to
fulfill. The closing chapters of
How to Improve Your School
address the educational
foundation of student involvement, and offer a conclusion that
resolves to put students in central, meaningful, and sustainable roles
By providing a broad cross-examination
of theory, research and action, How to Improve Your School offers the most effective
validation of student inclusive school change to date. This is not
just an important book for student advocates; it is an essential read
for all school improvement leaders.