Female with curly hair wearing glasses
Rebecca Lever
School Engagement Manager at Teach First

Giving pupils a voice – the Pupil Forum

Introducing the Teach First Pupil Forum - a chance to hear from the pupils themselves about what they need from the education system. Learn about what the Pupil Forum is and hear from our current forum members.

We must listen to our pupils

After 20 years of working with schools nationwide, we know that every school is different. Each has different issues, strengths and – crucially – needs. Our work is all about giving the schools we serve what they uniquely need. And if you boil it down, fundamentally that will always be based on what the pupils need. Certainly in the communities that we serve, understanding the experiences and stories of pupils helps us make informed decisions about how to do the best for them.

So we created the Pupil Forum. To remind us exactly why what we do is vital and learn precisely what our pupils need. In their own words.

How our Pupil Forum works

We invite 10 pupils from schools across the country to become a member of our Pupil Forum. They join us for a week-long work experience and then three virtual forum days. We make sure they get lots of skills to take forward, whilst they help us improve.

Their role is primarily to give input on our future direction. And tell us what they think. They sat in on meetings, got to know key staff and fed into the core issues we’re exploring so we can get the pupil perspective.

Some of the topics we’ve explored with them include: What makes a good teacher? How has COVID impacted your school experience? And what do you think you need for your careers education?

Beyond consulting for us, we give them the chance to plug into our community through sessions with senior representatives from a huge range of companies who support Teach First, like DHL, Deloitte and IG Group.

How they’re shaping Teach First...

The Pupil Forum members have already helped guide the work we do.

We gathered their insights into young people’s experiences of the pandemic. Their thoughts and experiences have been included in our training content for new teachers. Which means new teachers are going into the classroom with a much better understanding of what their pupils have been through.

We also held a session to gather their thoughts on careers education. A topic that features heavily in our manifesto. We asked them – what they think works, what doesn’t, and what changes they’d like to see. As well as informing some of the decisions we make for our Careers Leaders programme, their invaluable insights are also helping guide some of our work to change education policy at a government level.

…and education policy

We found their insights so valuable we wanted to give them the biggest platform we could. So, we’ve arranged for them speak at the House of Commons Education Committee.

The Education Committee is comprised of MPs from multiple parties whose role is to investigate aspects of education and make recommendations for how the government can make improvements.

They call upon experts to share their views and are usually Ministers, civil servants, leaders of organisations and sometimes teachers. But today (November 29th), those experts will include four members of our Pupil Forum.

Specifically they will be giving their thoughts on Careers Education, Information, Advice and Guidance (CEIAG) – a topic Teach First published a report on last year. The evidence they give will be included in a report from the committee which will be put to government, with the potential to influence how we approach careers education in the future. (If you’re interested you can watch the session live on Parliament TV, live or on demand from the 29 November,10am).

Meet the members

Hayley - ‘All education to be equal to all students’

From: Northampton

Studying: Psychology, Sociology, Maths, Health & Social Care

Ambition: Study law at university

What she wants MPs to hear: She’s excited to speak to the Education Committee because she feels it’s important for Parliament to hear from young people about the issues they have experienced. One of the things she’s most passionate about is for young people from all around the UK speak to MPs and help them see what regional differences there are. The biggest change she wants to see in education is for all education to be equal to all students’ needs and rights in all parts of the country.

female secondary student

Holly - ‘More opportunities for those in the North compared to the South’

From: Greater Manchester

Studying: History, German and Science as her GCSE options

Ambitions: Her aim is to do English Literature, Politics and History at A-Level, and hopes to go into counter-terrorism as a career.

What she wants MPs to hear: Young people do not have the right to vote and are extremely limited in the power they can exert. Raising issues to those with the most power allows her to make a difference with her opinions on politics. She wants to see more equality within school funding and opportunities for those in the North compared to the South. 

female secondary student

Harley - ‘All secondary schools equipped with talented, knowledgeable careers advisors’

From: Lancashire

Studying: A-Levels in Law, English Literature, Sociology and History.

Ambition: He loves debate and hopes to become a lawyer.

What he wants MPs to hear: Harley feels that young people are the age group most affected by educational policy and should therefore have their opinions and needs taken into account by decision-makers. He wants to see all secondary schools equipped with talented, knowledgeable careers advisors. 

male secondary student

Mariam - ‘Less focus on grades and more on character development’

From: London

Studying: History, Politics and Psychology and wants to go into politics.

Ambition: Mariam’s dream job is to be Education Secretary, as her COVID experiences inspired her to use her career to make a difference.

What she wants MPs to hear: She wants to share her thoughts on careers education with the Education Committee because she feels that, as young people are the ones going through education, it’s beneficial for MPs to get first hand insights from them. She’d like to see less focus on grades and more on pupils’ character development.

female secondary student

When it comes to careers, too many children from disadvantaged backgrounds have the cards stacked against them. Find out how we’re campaigning to improve careers education so that every young person gets equal access to the opportunities they deserve: https://www.teachfirst.org.uk/classroom-to-career

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