Project Title: Stakeholders’ views on student voice in Irish post-primary school classrooms

Researcher: Craig Skerritt, Centre for Evaluation, Quality and Inspection, Dublin City University

Contact Details: craig.skerritt2@mail.dcu.ie 

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My name is Craig Skerritt and I am currently undertaking research on stakeholders’ views on student voice in Irish post-primary school classrooms. This research is part of a PhD being funded by Dublin City University. As this is an unexplored area in Irish education, this research is particularly interested in exploring how student voice is enacted in schools, especially at the classroom level, and if there is a difference in how student voice plays out in schools based on school patronage and/or socio-economic setting.

 

This particular stage of the research involves surveying principals about their experiences and perceptions of student voice. Thus, as a post-primary school principal you are now being invited to take part in an online questionnaire about principals’ views on student voice. The questionnaire should take no more than 15-20 minutes to complete. In addition, you should be aware that:

 

●      Participation is completely voluntary, and you are not obliged to take part.

●      There is no direct benefit for you in participating in the research.

●      Participation involves no risk for you beyond those of everyday life - the probability of any harm or distress being caused by this research is no greater than those ordinarily encountered in daily life or during the performance of routine everyday administrative activities.

●      Maintaining your anonymity is of the highest importance and at no stage during the research will you, your school, or your school’s location be mentioned.

●      Confidentiality of information provided cannot always be guaranteed by researchers and can only be protected within the limitations of the law - i.e., it is possible for data to be subjected to freedom of information claims.

●      All data gathered from you will be stored in a secure location by the researcher

●      The findings from this research will be published in the first instance in a PhD thesis which will be stored in Dublin City University’s library. It is also intended that sections of the thesis will then be submitted for publication in peer-reviewed academic journals and/or books. Upon publication, these texts will be advertised on Twitter at @CraigSkerritt and free copies will be available to interested parties upon request.

●      You can, up until publication, decide that you would like to withdraw from the process (in this event, all data collected from you will be destroyed and not used).

●      All data collected from you will be deleted and destroyed upon the completion of the project in 2025.

 

 

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* 1. I fully consent to have the data I provide in this questionnaire used in this research.

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* 2. Which best describes your school?

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* 3. Does your school have DEIS status?

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* 4. Approximately how many students attend your school?

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* 5. Is your school a single-sex school or a co-educational school?

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* 6. How many years of experience do you have as principal of your current school?

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* 7. Do you hold any postgraduate qualification(s)?

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* 8. How many deputy principals are currently working alongside you in your school?

 
School Self-Evaluation in your School


In the Post-Primary School Self-Evaluation Guidelines 2016-2020, the Department of Education and Skills defines School Self-Evaluation (SSE) as ‘a collaborative, inclusive, reflective process of internal school review’, during which school staff, under the direction of the board of management and the patron and in consultation with parents and students, engage in reflective enquiry on the work of the school.

 

SSE is primarily about schools taking ownership of their own development and improvement and is based on a six-step process:

 

1.       Identify focus

2.       Gather evidence

3.       Analyse and make judgements

4.       Write and share report and improvement plan

5.       Put improvement plan into action

6.       Monitor actions and evaluate impact

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* 9. To what extent do you agree with the following statements about SSE in your school?

  Strongly Disagree Disagree Somewhat Disagree Neither Agree nor Disagree Somewhat Agree Agree Strongly Agree
This school has a specific SSE policy
This school’s SSE policy is written down and available for stakeholders to read and refer to
SSE is seen as being a collaborative effort involving all staff
This school has a designated person with responsibility for SSE

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* 10. To what extent do you agree that the following members of the school community have a defined role in your school’s SSE?

  Strongly Disagree Disagree Somewhat Disagree Neither Agree nor Disagree Somewhat Agree Agree Strongly Agree
Principal
Deputy principal
Teachers with posts of responsibility (subject department co-ordinators, year heads, Home School Community Liaison etc.)
Classroom teachers
Student council
Student body (i.e. all students, including those not on the student council)
Parents
Board of Management
Student Voice in your School


Student voice here refers to engaging in genuine dialogue with students and facilitating their role as stakeholders in schools. It means not only providing a platform for students to offer their views, but ensuring that their voice is heard, respected, and valued. This can involve listening to and valuing students’ views on their learning experiences, communicating these views to decision-makers, and ultimately empowering students to be more active in shaping or changing their learning and treating them as equal partners in the evaluation of teaching and learning processes, or at the simplest level, it can involve students sharing their opinions of school problems with management and staff. An important point, however, is that all types of student voice, ranging from students having limited input to students having strong leadership are considerably different from the types of roles that students have traditionally performed in schools e.g. planning school dances, holding cake sales, and organising non-uniform days.

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* 11. Does this school have a student council?

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* 12. To what extent do you agree with the following statements about student voice in your school?

  Strongly Disagree Disagree Somewhat Disagree Neither Agree nor Disagree Somewhat Agree Agree Strongly Agree
Students are assigned a clear role in this school’s SSE policy
Students play an important role in SSE
Students are consulted on a wide range of issues (e.g. teaching and learning, school policies, school activities)
Students are consulted on academic issues (e.g. teaching and learning)
Students are consulted on non-academic issues (e.g. uniform policy, structure of the school day, clubs and societies etc.)
Students want to be involved in SSE
Students meaningfully contribute to SSE
Students’ involvement in SSE is dependent on their age and/or year group
The student council is active in the school
The student council plays an active role in SSE (e.g. being consulted on both academic and non-academic issues)
The student council plays an important role in SSE
The students involved in SSE are predominantly from the student council
Consulting Students on Classroom Practice

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* 13. To what extent do you agree with the following statements about students being consulted on classroom practice in your school?

  Strongly Disagree Disagree Somewhat Disagree Neither Agree nor Disagree Somewhat Agree Agree Strongly Agree
Students are consulted on teaching and learning issues in this school (e.g. how students like to be taught and how they feel they learn best is taken into account)
Teachers ask students for feedback on their teaching
Teachers ask students for feedback on how they are learning
Management (principal and/or leadership team) ask students for feedback on teachers’ teaching
Management (principal and/or leadership team) ask students for feedback on how they are learning
Students want to be consulted on teachers’ teaching
Students want to be consulted on their learning
Students enjoy being consulted on teachers’ teaching
Students enjoy being consulted on their learning
Students are a reliable source of information on teaching issues
Students are a reliable source of information on learning issues

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* 14. How often do you (or the management team) use the following techniques to get feedback from students regarding classroom practice?

  Never Rarely Sometimes Often Always
Surveys/questionnaires
Individual interviews
Focus group interviews
Informal conversations
Other techniques

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* 15. To what extent do you agree with the following statements about students judging the quality of teaching in schools?

  Strongly Disagree Disagree Somewhat Disagree Neither Agree nor Disagree Somewhat Agree Agree Strongly Agree
Students give fair feedback on teachers’ classroom practice
I trust students’ feedback on teachers’ classroom practice
Students are a good judge of the quality of teaching in schools
Students are a good judge of the quality of leadership in schools
Students are a reliable source of information when evaluating the quality of teaching in schools

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* 16. How often does the following happen when you as principal consult students about teachers’ classroom practice?

  Never Rarely Sometimes Often Always
Students name individual teachers when discussing their lessons
I ask students about individual teachers when discussing their lessons

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* 17. To what extent do you agree with the following statement about principals (or school management/leadership teams) asking students about the performance of individual teachers?

  Strongly Disagree Disagree Somewhat Disagree Neither Agree nor Disagree Somewhat Agree Agree Strongly Agree
It is appropriate for principals (or the school management/leadership team) to ask students about the performance of individual teachers
The purpose of consulting students on classroom practice

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* 18. To what extent do you agree with the following statements about the reason(s) for management (principal and/or leadership team) consulting students on classroom practice?

  Strongly Disagree Disagree Somewhat Disagree Neither Agree nor Disagree Somewhat Agree Agree Strongly Agree
Ensuring student voice is heard in the school
Improving students’ experience of school
Making the school a more democratic and inclusive institution
The inspectorate expects schools to consult with students
The governing body/patron expects the school to consult with students
Improving the quality of teaching and learning across the school
Holding teachers accountable for their performances
Monitoring teacher performance
Holding school leaders accountable for their performances
Monitoring school leaders’ performances

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* 19. What do you do with the information gathered through consultations with students on classroom practice?

  Never Rarely Sometimes Often Always
Encourage students to talk to teachers (if there are concerns)
Formally discuss students' feedback with teachers
Informally discuss students' feedback with teachers
Formally discuss students' feedback with school management/leadership team
Informally discuss students' feedback with school management/leadership team
Keep feedback on file for your own record
Gather data from additional sources e.g. more students
Hold follow-up conversations with students
Observe teaching and learning in classrooms
Reconsider/revise various school policies
Other
The Influence of School Context

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* 20. To what extent do you agree with the following statements about school context influencing consultations with students on classroom practice?

  Strongly Disagree Disagree Somewhat Disagree Neither Agree nor Disagree Somewhat Agree Agree Strongly Agree
The patronage of a school influences the ways that students are consulted on classroom practice
The socio-economic status of a school influences the ways that students are consulted on classroom practice
The leadership of a school influences the ways that students are consulted on classroom practice
The patronage of a school influences how staff and students feel about students being consulted on classroom practice
The socio-economic status of a school influences how staff and students feel about students being consulted on classroom practice
The  leadership of a school influences how staff and students feel about students being consulted on classroom practice
School size influences the ways that students are consulted on classroom practice
School size influences how staff and students feel about students being consulted on classroom practice
Facilitating and Hindering Factors

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* 21. To what extent do you agree with the following statements about factors that can facilitate you consulting students on classroom practice?

  Strongly Disagree Disagree Somewhat Disagree Neither Agree nor Disagree Somewhat Agree Agree Strongly Agree
I support the idea of management (principal and/or leadership team) consulting students on teaching and learning issues
I feel comfortable consulting students on teaching and learning issues