We know that while successful learner engagement and effective learner voice practice happens in places, it is not consistent and we’re not really sure how to measure it. Without understanding the value of learner voice, and without the evidence to demonstrate the impact learners have on their education and local community, learner voice is increasingly lost or holds less meaning. The Learner Voice Framework is an online self-assessment and development tool that enables organisations to identify, measure and improve the quality of their learner voice practice.
Any learning organisation or education provider can use the framework. It is purposefully founded on sector-shaped principles to guide and inform quality learner voice in our organisations – with a practical focus on ensuring practice is long lasting, as much as it is meaningful. We haven't listed specific structures or activities, because to do so would exclude some of the most innovative and exciting practice in the sector, so it doesn't matter what your organisation looks like, the framework should support your evaluation and development of practice within your context. The focus is absolutely about listening to and empowering your learners.
Well, there’s a story behind them...
Partnership – this is about having an equal and valued partnership between learners and their learning organisation. Without a partnership approach, we are not going to be successful at any part of developing learner voice. It takes a team to work through the framework itself, and we know that one person on their own cannot be responsible for all of this. It’s also important to make sure our partnerships are genuine and equal – no matter who that partnership is made up of.
Empowered Learners - it’s what the framework is all about! We want learners to discover and use their voice effectively.
Inclusive – we believe that all learners should be actively involved in shaping their education. Sometimes this will mean we need to look honestly at our activity and challenge under-representation and limited engagement with particular groups of students. We want all learners to feel empowered and know they have a voice on their education – and we need to work proactively to find ways to support them to use their voice effectively.
Embedded and Valued – this is about having meaningful learner engagement and partnership throughout the organisation. If there’s any area of the organisation that doesn’t quite “buy it”, or invest in it – it cannot be a whole-organisational approach. It is important for everyone to have an understanding of what learner voice is, what it can achieve and how valuable it is.
The first four principles set the scene for our story. We know we have to work on this together (Partnership). We all agree this about empowering learners and getting their voice heard (Empowering Learners). We want our practice to be inclusive (Inclusive) and we want there to be an organisational-wide understanding and engagement with learner voice (Embedded & Valued). Purposefully, we have left the “how we’re going to do all of this” principle to the end! We need to know what we want to and why we want to do it, before we look at the how.
Being Invested, Strategic and Sustainable - this is the formal strategy and investment in learner voice to ensure it is long lasting. Learner Voice needs resourcing, a strategy and investment. We want there to be space to come up with new ideas and share existing good practice. We want to retain talent, push boundaries and adapt with the sector. And we always want to ensure students an impactful voice within education.
Go to each principle in turn – read through the description to understand what it is about (there is a long explanation, a short version and a Makaton image coming soon to help describe each one). Under each principle, there are a list of key characteristics that outline what good learner voice practice looks like in this area. You can write a sentence or a longer statement by each relevant characteristic, evaluating your current voice activity. Don't forget to upload your documents and other evidence to support your evaluation. (Have a look at our "Guide to Self-Assessment" for further guidance.)
You can add to and amend both the Self-Assessment and Development Plan whenever you want to, and both are designed to download and print, so that you can brandish them at departmental meetings!