Student voice, participation and leadership

Student voice brings the diversity of students’ backgrounds, experiences, cultures and perspectives to shape their learning and future pathways.

Why does student voice matter?

Through student voice, children and young people develop new skills and capabilities that support participation, including self-efficacy, communication, collaboration, creativity and ethical understanding.

Children and young people who participate in decision-making, have higher levels of wellbeing, feel personally empowered to make a difference and experience strengthened relationships with adults and peers. They get to have a real impact on their learning and their school community, and to see how decision-making and democratic values work in a safe, supportive environment.

Schools provide meaningful opportunities for student voice, participation and leadership,  as noted  in the Wellbeing Framework for Schools and School Excellence Framework.

Supporting student voice, participation and leadership

A safe and supportive school environment encourages and promotes student voice, participation and leadership.

Four factors in particular, have been shown in research1 to effectively promote student participation leading to higher engagement and improved wellbeing. These factors are:

  • having voice
  • having choice
  • having influence
  • working together.

Schools can support student voice, participation and leadership by:

  • valuing and engaging student voice within teaching and learning, school planning, operations and governance
  • involving students in conversations and decisions about what and how they learn and how their learning is assessed
  • developing student voice, participation and leadership skills and nurturing character to support their active citizenship
  • providing opportunities that celebrate difference, diversity, and that recognise, respect and respond to identity and cultural background
  • providing inclusive student leadership opportunities within the classroom, school and wider community
  • providing opportunities for all students to actively influence and contribute to their learning, the school and their community.


[1] Improving wellbeing through student participation at school: this Australian research, developed in partnership with Centre for Children and Young People, outlines the benefits of student participation. An executive summary, quick reference and good practice guides are available to support implementation.

Student leadership: a review of effective practice (PDF 874.33KB) gives an overview of student leadership in educational settings in Australian and international contexts.
(Note: This resource does not currently meet WCAG 2.0 accessibility requirements. Please contact 02 9244 5129 to request an alternative copy)

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