The importance of empowered learners


I have for a long time been an advocate for children’s rights, and embedding rights-based approaches into all services that are involved with children and young people. Learner empowerment is a very important aspect of this, and I strongly believe that we cannot have effective systems for learners if we don’t seek their views and opinions, and act upon these.

Research clearly shows that when learners are involved in making decisions about their learning, schools and communities that there is an improved culture and ethos and raised attainment and achievement. Being involved in decision making also provides children and young people with important skills that will help them to become confident learners, responsible citizens, effective contributors and successful learners.

Those are the very same capacities that Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence sets out to achieve by putting learners at the heart of education. It really highlights the value of empowering learners and the impact it can have on shaping the people they become.

As someone who is passionate about children’s rights, I welcomed the chance to work with children and young people to develop new guidance that sets out clear principles and a rationale for empowering learners. I met with children and young people from primary, secondary and Additional Support Needs (ASN) backgrounds to shape this new guidance which will remain in draft over this academic year to allow even more people to help shape this valuable resource.

Many schools and other education settings have planned systems to ensure that learners are fully involved in making decisions, and are able to lead and contribute to school improvement. I met learners who are regularly asked about their experiences of their learning and what is working well or could be improved. And many practitioners are open and transparent with children and young people, and value and act upon their views and opinions.

It is wonderful that so much focus is already being placed on learner empowerment across Scotland and as one (empowered) Primary Six pupil said to me “kids know what schools should be like for kids”. I couldn’t have put it better myself!

Maxine Jolly, Senior Education Officer at Education Scotland

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