Meeting with John Swinney, Deputy First Minister

Anastasia Moore, S6, was part of a small group of pupils who met with John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, at the Scottish Parliament.  Mr Swinney had invited the senior pupils in to meet with him to discuss the pupil empowerment conference that the pupils had attended in February. The conference was organised by School Leaders Scotland and the Scottish Youth Parliament and involved young people from schools across Scotland coming together to discuss how schools involve them in the decision-making processes that affect them. Teacher were ‘banned’ from the event, and the findings that resulted from the lively debate will be taken forward by Scottish Government officials.  Anastasia was joined at the conference by Elle Wright.  The pupils reported back to Mrs Dobson, Headteacher, that in their opinion pupils at Dalkeith High School have many opportunities to have their voices heard and feel that their views are valued and acted upon.

Pupil Voice – Feedback

Meeting Date: 27th February 2019

Please give examples of feedback which you receive about your learning.

  • Written and verbal feedback on assignments/essay to re-draft and then make them better
  • Written or verbal feedback following tests
  • Written feedback explaining what to improve to help gain marks and improve understanding
  • Assignment, essay and dissertation feedback including a helpful written message
  • Verbal feedback on work carried out in class
  • Unit assessments are usually marked within a reasonable time
  • Some teachers email or record responses and feedback on Show My Homework if work is marked in the holidays
  • In English you get comments in jotters
  • Some feedback is helpful, however some are not
  • ‘Next Step’ targets are given to help us have a focus
  • We have learning conversations which are personal to our learning
  • We carryout surveys to see how we are doing
  • Comments and grades are sometimes reported and shared through Show My Homework
  • Meetings, report cards, phone calls home, parents evening are other ways which we all get important feedback


How helpful is the written and/or verbal feedback you get from your teachers?

  • The feedback we get is very helpful as it gives you an understanding of what areas to improve on
  • Feedback is very helpful if we get it because you know how to improve your learning further
  • Personalised feedback is the best form of feedback as it benefits you more
  • Sometimes it is better when teachers speak to you after class or in private
  • Feedback can be good as it’s well thought out and personal
  • Verbal feedback is sometimes better as it can be explained in more detail and clearly however sometimes I forget the feedback and would like it to refer back to
  • Written is good but they aren’t very explanatory, whereas verbal is easier for the teacher and more detail is shared
  • Sometimes we don’t get any feedback in our jotters, or it isn’t very regular. It should be checked monthly


How do you know about the progress you are making in school?

  • By looking at our test results
  • Feedback at Parents Evenings
  • Feedback on practical/written work
  • Feedback through Show My Homework
  • Tracking Reports give some feedback
  • Setting our own learning targets
  • Sometimes classes are too big to be given feedback regularly, but that shouldn’t be the case, teachers should find other ways


How is progress shared with parents/carers?

  • Sometimes a letter is sent home to say you are doing well
  • Report cards giving information about our level, progress and targets
  • Parents evenings are good to discuss progress in more detail
  • If you’re absent or misbehaving, texts, emails or phone calls will be sent home


Is this information regular enough?

  • Should be more parents evenings per year, especially for the senior phase
  • More tracking reports should be done to help communicate with parents so they know how you are progressing
  • Information is not regular enough, 3 report cards per year would be ideal
  • Parents evenings should be at least 2 or 3 times per year
  • Reports and Parents Evenings only capture some of the year so parents should be informed more often


In what way could this information be shared in a better way?

  • Learning targets set by the teachers should be regular and referred to more often
  • More written feedback on pieces of work
  • Parents should be contacted more often if lack of progress is made
  • Certificates sent home if work is above your usual standards
  • Praise Postcards, prizes or certificates could be sent home
  • More merits given out and this is not done very often anymore
  • A verbal congratulations from staff if you acquire a merit
  • A lot of pupils think it’s embarrassing to get a certificate at assemblies so sometimes it puts people off achieving merits
  • Emails should be used to communicate with home – save the trees !
  • Set up a scheme that allows pupils to access all written documents, available on the school website so we can refer to our feedback


How do staff listen to your views when planning learning and teaching?

  • We don’t get much of an opportunity and we think we should get more
  • Some teachers use exit slips based on the lesson but we don’t know what they do with the information
  • ‘Five a Day’ and Pupil Voice meetings are a good way for us to share our views and opinions but we should be able to do this more in our classes
  • We share our ideas by speaking to our teachers but they don’t always listen
  • Some teachers for example in PE, Art and History take into account what you want to learn about
  • When it comes to exam years, we get little choice over the teaching as it is restricted by the SQA
  • We mainly feel like staff don’t listen to our ideas


How could this be improved, what could be done differently?

  • Finding out the best way that the pupils learn, but still having fun at the same time
  • Trying taster sessions of things to see what we all like and then this could be a focus in more detail at a later date
  • Anonymous suggestion boxes could be used in all departments or in the school
  • Surveys could be carried out half way through or at the end of the year to see what we enjoyed and benefited from
  • Staff should reflect on pupils suggestions when planning for the next year
  • We should have more freedom on how lessons are taught
  • Teachers could ask for feedback about the lesson and listen to the feedback

Pupil Voice Update March 2019

Pupil Voice representatives have started to use ‘wee HGIOS’ to help evaluate Dalkeith High School and identify improvements for our school.

We all agreed to focus on Theme 2 “Our Learning and Teaching” as we felt it was important to reflect upon and get wider responses on the curriculum, learning experiences, reporting and feedback.

First of all, we looked at the examples of highly effective practice in the booklet.  We all agreed that there is a lot of areas which Dalkeith High School is already very good at but there are also areas which we think should be developed and improved.

When we were planning our recent Pupil Voice meeting, we decided to use the questions in the booklet as a starting point to help get honest feedback.

Our next steps will be to carry out learning walks with SLT to observe learning across the school.  We also want to carryout department and whole school evaluations where we look at wall displays, digital resources, outdoor facilities and the layout of classrooms to help us collect further information about our school which we will use to help make future improvements.

Pupil Voice 2018/19

Dalkeith High Schools Pupil Voice has gone from strength to strength this year with increased involvement from pupils in S2 (Sophie Binns, Mia Linn, Eve Sneddon and Lara Stewart) and S5 (Liam Bielski, Catriona Nelson, Elle Wright and Yasmine Yorke).  The team is extremely hardworking and eager to make positive impact and change across the school.

Education Scotland has recently produced a resource called ‘How Good is OUR School’ (which we refer to in Dalkeith High School as ‘weeHIGIOS’) to help support learner participation in self evaluation and school improvement.  Staff at Dalkeith High School aim to promote and encourage opportunities that give our young people a stronger voice on matters that affect their lives and learning.  As a result, Pupil Voice representatives have started to use ‘HGIOS’ to help evaluate their School and identify areas for improvement.

Pupil Voice representatives have continued to lead a range of meetings to gain the views and opinions from across the school.  They agreed to focus on Theme 2 within the HGIOS document “Our Learning and Teaching” as they felt it was important to reflect upon and get wider responses on the curriculum, learning experiences, reporting and feedback.  The team all agreed there is a lot of areas which are already very good in the school however they felt there are also aspects which could be developed and further improved.  When the team were planning their recent Pupil Voice meeting, they decided to use the questions in the HGIOS booklet as a starting point to help get honest feedback from other learners.

Information and responses collected at Pupil Voice meetings are always shared and discussed  with the Senior Leadership Team.  Representatives attended the meetings where next steps are discussed and considered.  Feedback is further communicated and shared with the wider staff at meetings and is often used to inform staff training sessions.

Pupil Voice has identified further steps to develop purposeful Learning experiences across the school.  Members will be carrying out Learning Walks alongside the Senior Leadership Team to observe learning across the school.  They also want to carryout department and whole school evaluations where they look at wall displays, digital resources, outdoor facilities and the layout of classrooms.  Evaluations will help them collect additional information which they will use to make further improvements to help shape the future of their school.

Please follow the future developments and hard work carried out by the Pupil Voice team by following us on Twitter @DHSPupilVoice