Within organisations and communities, stories are told often and in lots of different ways. Stories matter because they often provide new insights and give us a deeper understanding of other people's experience.
We'd like to use this space to share some of our project participant's stories:
I found the project really challenging, in a good way, because most of us in the group didn’t know each other at all, we’d never even spoken before.
When we were asked to start organising ourselves and come up with ideas and volunteer ourselves for things, that was really good. I think it was so good for everyone’s confidence because we are first years and we never normally get the chance to give our ideas like that- without being told what to do.
When we presented our ideas to the Head and other teachers, I realised that I’m not as shy as I thought and was quite surprised at being able to talk out like that. We were so much more confident as a team and we’d done it all ourselves, it was a great feeling.
When we used to do group work in class, someone confident would just say their idea and we’d do it. Now, we go round everyone so we all get a chance to say our ideas, then we pick the one we all like best. It’s much better this way.
Normally it’s the older pupils in the school that get all the opportunities, so when they asked I volunteered. I was really nervous and shy at the start though, we didn’t really know each other at all. Once we were in small groups and had to talk it started to get really good.
I suggested an idea and everyone liked it and then we just had more and more ideas. I felt proud that we were being trusted to come up with good suggestions for the school.
It was exciting to have the Head listen to what we had to say. It made me feel like we are actually being used and getting to make a difference.
We all got to have our say, and now we’re going to give others that chance too. I hope that in the end no one will be afraid to share their opinion, even if they are the youngest in the school.
In the group everyone’s open to each other and we express ourselves instead of keeping everything bottled inside. It just felt really respectful. I think that’s why I felt comfortable to say things I wouldn’t usually say, and I’ve made some new friends too.
The whole thing was different to normal. Even the teachers weren’t in teaching mode - just telling you what to do - they were actually talking to you properly and we got to know them a bit more. I learnt that you’ve got to listen to everyone’s views, even if they’re different to yours.
It was really awkward at the beginning. No-one wanted to speak out yet. We were all so used to just getting told what to do. But as we began to speak about change, we began to believe that somehow what we were doing here could start to help things be better.
We started to see that the things we were thinking and saying were becoming real.. When we presented our ideas I could really see them thinking and noting how good our suggestions were. My basketball coach was on the SLT and he saw our presentation. He still asks me how things are going with the Space Unlimited group and offers support.
I learned that pupils are willing to put in time and effort to improve the learning in school. I do care about more things than I did before, and I know others do too.
This experience sparked off so many things for me that helped my confidence to become more active in doing things. It really helped me get closer to adults that can help me help myself.
When I started high school it was difficult to help change things here. It felt like as a pupil my job was to do my work and do what the teacher told you.
I joined the programme because I felt like it was time to do something, I was bored with how things were and I saw this as an opportunity to change stuff.
After the initial taster session it was not clear how we were going to change things. Slowly it made more sense. It really was like the squiggle line full of ups and downs.
If I were to change anything it would have been to have had more than the 3 days together as at times things felt a little rushed. We needed time and space to get things wrong and then be able to work through them together to make them right.
My confidence is so much higher than it was before. I now know I am able to share my thoughts and listen to the thoughts of others. I am also not scared to talk with adults as much as I was before. I see teachers differently now. Although I see their role as the same I now understand why it is the way it is. And this has helped me think more about my part to play in helping change.
I am only one person but I can make a big change, even if I am only a wee first year. I also realised how important it is to hear the ideas of others too. The school needs to just give opportunities for pupils and teachers to share their ideas and work together on stuff.
When I started to get into the project, it really was different. I was good to be able to say my opinions. I also got to hear lots of things that I wouldn’t get to hear from other pupils across year groups, and a different point of view from teachers.
It felt like this was something we had never done before. I was part of a good group and even though I only recognised one or two people I still was able to help it work. And you know how hard that is when you are not with your friends.
I think you usually only say what you want the teacher to hear or what you think they want you to say. Teachers like you when you agree with them, and they favour you for other things if you do. It was different to be able to say what was really on your mind and for the teachers to do the same. It was good not to be the only one that was saying stuff, and not just saying it because you think it would impress the teachers. It was things people did want to change. And things really did change.
I hadn’t really thought about school values before. It was a poster on the wall that I just walked by. I really appreciated getting an opportunity to change the school. It gave me a chance to really think about what values mean and how you develop values that make sense to everyone.
I want to be part of the pupil voice group now; I believe pupil voice can make a difference and that the senior management team do listen. When they came along to hear our ideas they heard it in our words, and I feel encouraged by how they responded to what we had to say.