Rethinking The Challenges and Possibilities of Student Voice and Agency

Lena Bahou


In the last few decades, attempts at increasing student involvement in various forms and in several countries have challenged the notion that education is something that happens to people. Drawing on sources from the last 15 years or so mainly in the UK, USA and Australia, this critical review explores the theories and practices underpinning student voice research in relation to the principle of increasing students’ active participation in decision-making within schools. In this paper, I investigate the rationale, main empirical studies in student voice research as manifested through student consultation, key issues and the potential and limitations of developing and enacting Students as Researchers (SAR) as a more participatory, but no less problematic, manifestation of student voice in schools. This review informed an interventionist study I undertook to explore how participatory initiatives such as SAR in one Lebanese school can provide an important opportunity for schools to consider students’ active participation in current school and community life, and the creation of new spaces for shifting teacher-student relationships.


student voice, students as researchers

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