Pupil Voice has had a slightly different shape since the new year, as we move onto a new phase of the project.
Firstly, it’s important to acknowledge that we had almost 350 responses from young people to our surveys of house and school names, dress code, and vision and values. For those of you still waiting to see if your favourite name for the school made it through, please be patient. There are lots of people involved in that decision! This level of engagement shows really clearly the young people’s sense of ownership in this project, and it’s been great to find out their thoughts and read their comments. This has been especially important for the inclusion of young people who might find it more challenging to speak out in group situations- all voices are valued.
Young people have also been getting involved in the recruitment of our staff team. Pinkie pupils were a huge help in setting questions for our Curriculum Leader interviews. Their suggestions included:
- How will you make sure that all pupils know about hidden disabilities?
- How will you make sure that we all leave school able to cook healthy things that are easy to make?
- How will you make sure that everyone gets involved in your subject, even if they think they are not very good at it?
- How will you make sure the work is hard enough for people who might find it quite easy?
Questions like these have really made candidates think on their feet, and helped us to get a real sense of how they will respond to our young people.
Pupils from Wallyford will be involved, this coming week, in compiling questions for our class teacher interviews, which take place throughout March and April. I am sure they will continue to be a great support to the process.
We will be reconvening and building on our regular Pupil Voice sessions in the spring. Mr Valentine will be leading some groups focused on what we are calling ‘ways of being’. Mr Valentine has a real passion for what is referred to as character education. The idea behind this is that education is as much about learning how to be in the world as it is learning facts and figures. Our senior leadership team has very high standards when it comes to how we treat each other, and takes wellbeing, inclusion and anti-bullying approached very seriously. We know that lots of our young people feel the same.
Mrs Stewart-Young will be leading discussions around classroom experiences. We want to make sure that we are working with everyone in our school community to give young people as much consistency as possible across the different areas of the curriculum. It’s important that we all know what to expect when it comes to our daily classroom routines, as well as thinking about learning actively, learning together, and how we assess our learning.
They are both very excited (that word again!) to get into all three of our partner schools in the next few weeks.
All three schools have now worked through the four key themes of culture, community, identity and learning.
On the final topic of ‘our learning’, pupils were asked to explore what they saw as positive classroom experiences.
The image below shows the adjectives they most commonly used to describe the ideal teacher:
This was such a valuable exercise because it can influence the wording we use when recruiting classroom teachers in the spring, as well as providing a great reminder of how much interpersonal relationships impact on young people’s sense of progress and engagement.
The pupils were also asked to explore what makes for a good classroom experience. Some quotations included:
- I know I have learned something when I use it out of class
- Knowing I am improving
- Learning things but having fun at the same time
- Lots of interaction
- Happiness and kindness
Finally, pupils were asked to think about what their ideal school day would look like. There was a lot of emphasis on hands on, active learning, with one pupil commenting, ‘I like the subjects where I get to the end of the lesson and I feel like I have something to show for the effort I have put in.’ The graphic below shows some of the subjects identified as being an important part of the ideal day:
You can access the full data on this topic here: Pupil Voice Theme 4 Data
All Pupil Voice groups at the associated primaries have now had the chance to talk about Theme 3: Our identity. The two main tasks they were given were around sharing ideas for a school name, and discussing their ideas around school dress code.
As noted in Head Teacher updates, the name Wallyford Learning Campus will remain to cover the whole of the building and its grounds, but we do have the opportunity to give the school part of the WLC its own identity.
Parent feedback indicated a real split as to whether the name ‘Wallyford’ should or shouldn’t be included, but pupils have overwhelmingly been keen to look at other options. Based on local history and geography, they have been asked to think about 5 possible names for the school:
- Clement’s Wells/Clementswells High School
- Fawside High School (spelling tbc as there are various options!)
- Ravensheugh High School
- Rosehill High School
- Scarlett Park High School
You can also read about the context of each name here: Naming our school: contexts
Pupils in these sessions also had the chance to talk about school dress code and how this links in with a sense of community and identity. Most were in agreement with the key adjectives from our parent input: the dress code should be comfortable, smart and affordable. They also fully understood the need for safety and security on campus.
At present, pupils in all schools have been very positive about:
- School hoodies or sweatshirts, with clear logos/names to show who they are
- Combining these with plain black on the bottom, including footwear
There is still lots to think about in terms of setting specific parameters, but we will return to these discussions with related surveys in the new year.
You can see all of the data gathered with the pupils here: Pupil Voice Theme 3 data
What has been clear throughout this Theme is how much of a ‘buzz’ there now is amongst the pupils as our starting date approaches. They have been a credit to their respective schools throughout. An update on our final theme (Our Learning) will be shared before the end of term.
Several pupil voice groups have now had the opportunity to explore Theme 2: Our school community. They focused on three key questions:
- What do you want to know or be able to do by the time you leave school?
- What should be our priorities in year 1?
- What activities in your current school help you feel like part of a community?
The graphics below provide a simple visualisation of the discussions- the larger a word appears, the more often in came up in feedback.
The young people identified the following things as important to them:
- Practical life skills such as cooking, swimming and managing money
- Having aspirations (this is the catch all term that was used for discussions around getting a good job/knowing what you want to do)
- Pupil voice and genuine listening
- Expectations and boundaries
- Leadership opportunities
- Teams and clubs, whether sports or otherwise
- House identity (secondary pupils in particular)
- Positive relationships with friends and teachers as a key aspect of community
Graphic 1: What do you want to know or be able to do by the time you leave school?
Graphic 2: What should be our priorities in year 1?
Graphic 3: What activities in your current school help you feel like part of a community?
Our Wallyford Pupil Voice group met members of the building Design Team today. Our architect and interior designer took time to talk them through some of the key aspects of the design process. Key talking points included:
Biophilic design: This is a type of design in which the patterns and forms of nature are featured in the building, to create a sense of bringing the outside in.
Supergraphics: These are large-scale images that are used to build identity. At the campus, these will make links to the area’s history, including the mining community.
The Heart of the Building: All routes will lead to a central communal area with a range of seating options where users can both collaborate and find quiet spaces, as suits their needs.
The pupils asked lots of really thoughtful questions and were extremely courteous and respectful of their special guests. They agreed that being able to see 3D images was a huge help for them in imagining what the school will feel like.
The Design Team will also be working with Pinkie St. Peter’s and Musselburgh Grammar School groups before the end of November.
Young people in all three partner schools have now had the chance to talk through their ideas around Theme 1: Our school’s purpose. They have explored 3 key questions:
- What are schools for?
- What does a good school look like?
- What do you value in your current school?
Graphics summarising their findings are included below. These are designed to give a flavour of the discussions and have been constructed by putting the raw data into a Word Cloud generator. The bigger the word, the more pupils mentioned it. Emerging key themes have included the importance of:
- Staff who are kind/helpful
- An anti-bullying approach
- Interesting subjects
- Good facilities and resources
- Time to learn/play/relax outdoors
- Plenty to eat!
Graphic 1: What are schools for?
Graphic 2: What does a good school look like?
Graphic 3: What do you value about your current school?
Pupils in P6/P7 has a special assembly to introduce them to the new head teacher and the new campus. They asked lots of very thoughtful questions about what subjects they would study and how the school day would work. In fact, there were so many questions that Ms Preston had to take some away with her for homework. There will now be an extra Google Meet arranged to answer those questions.
Pupil Voice groups at Pinkie start on Monday and will run on a weekly basis heading towards Christmas. As with all of the other Pupil Voice groups, data from the discussions will be gathered on an ongoing basis, with the collated information being published on the website before the end of this term.
22 S1/2 MGS pupils were involved in discussions today around the two themes of Purpose and Community. They were particularly engaged in the discussion around what they need from the head teacher and other school staff to feel part of a safe and inclusive school. Comments included:
- Teachers who care
- Good learning facilities
- Clear information and expectations
They also talked about what they value most in their current school including:
- Clubs and activities
- Teachers who help you to achieve your goals
Thanks go to Mrs. Walker for her support in organising this. There will be a further two Pupil Voice sessions at MGS on the 22nd November. Pupils who live in the catchment area for Wallyford Learning Campus can speak with Mrs. Walker directly if they would like to be involved.
16 P6/7 pupils took part in their first Pupil Voice session today, on Theme 1: What makes a good school?
They firstly worked together to remind themselves of what they already know about doing good group work. They agreed that the important words to remember were:
- Focusing on the person speaking
- Hard work
They collaborated to answer the three key questions that have also been asked of parents:
- What is school for?
- What does a good school look like?
- What do you like about your current school?
Their answers will be collated along with those from the pupil voice groups across all of our associated schools, then shared via the website when all of the groups have had their first meeting.
The young people also had the chance to ask questions about the new school. These showed how important outdoor space, active learning and the arts are for this group. However, they weren’t afraid to get philosophical, with one pupil asking, ‘Why do schools exist?’ It was fascinating to hear the rest of the group try to answer!
Young people in our three associated schools will have the opportunity to take part in a range of pupil voice activities. Pupil voice groups will begin their programme of activities as follows:
Wallyford Primary School: Week beginning 31st October 2023
Musselburgh Grammar: Week beginning 7th November 2023
Pinkie St. Peter’s Primary School: Week beginning 14th November 2023
This means that the Head Teacher will be in all three schools on a regular basis throughout the term.
Groups have been coordinated by staff at the pupils’ existing schools.
They will be exploring the key themes of purpose, community, identity and learning. They will also have the chance to take part in a consultation with our interior designer, Lynda Wightman. We want the young people to help to create a place to be proud of, including spaces that feel safe and welcoming.
Due to the high number of pupils involved, not everyone will be able to be part of a pupil voice group. However, from January 2023, all young people will have the chance to take part in a series of pupil surveys on a range of topics. Any questions they have can be shared with their class teacher/key adult, who will either be able to answer their questions directly or pass them on to the Head Teacher for a response.