Giving learners agency, encouraging independence and helping them feel a valued part of your class community – what’s not to like? Kate Sturdy shares six ways to create opportunities for pupil voice in the classroom.

1. Topic and topic name

Ask your class, year group or department what they would like to learn about. You could set a competition for the topic name whereby learners in small groups create topic names, then individually vote for the best – the most voted is the winner!

2. Big questions

Once the topic has been decided, ask the learners independently or in groups to think of ‘Big questions’ that they would like to ask about it. The ‘Big Questions’ are then displayed and used to lead planning. Learners’ answers and work are added to the display as the topic develops to show their learning journey that included pupil voice.

3. Creativity in the classroom

Once you have taught the skill or learning objective, allow learners to demonstrate their understanding however they want. Learners could decide to use digital technology such as Flipgrid, Adobe Spark, Minecraft or other Microsoft tools. They may choose to create a poem, song, rap, story or another way – the power is in their hands! If you feel giving learners free rein too daunting, limit the options available to choose from.

4. Classroom design

Include your learners’ voices when designing your classroom. What you think works best might not be what works best for the children in your class. A good one to consider at the start of each half term!

5. Displays

Include your learners’ ideas on what should be on display to help their learning. Many of my displays are working walls that develop over time. Learners add Post-it notes with their ideas and key vocabulary on during lessons that are referred to by me and used to aid learning during future lessons. There is no point in a pretty-looking display that has taken hours for a teacher or TA to make, if no one looks at it.

6. Seating arrangements

To give learners opportunities to make informed choices and increase independence, allow them to choose where and who they would like to sit by. I allowed my Year 5 class to choose every afternoon. If this is too much, you could decide on a certain subject, time or day each week for this to happen. Clear boundaries, rules and expectations need to be established for this to work. This will have a tremendous impact on learners’ wellbeing and will have a positive impact on their work too.


  • Kate Sturdy

    Kate is Year 5 and 6 departmental lead (six classes), the KS2 curriculum lead (12 classes) and a Year 6 teacher. She has given presentations to teachers for the Welsh Government, lectured at several universities and is currently working on personalised assessment with the Welsh Government. Kate also provides Adobe Creative Cloud training to educators globally.
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