Statement on Student Voice in the Governance of School Boards

The Canadian School Boards Association supports student voice in the governance of school boards through authentic participation and input of students into the decision-making at the school board level, and empowering students to be involved in matters that affect their education. Students have the greatest stake in their education and provide important perspectives into decisions about their education and how it is delivered. 

Student voice must be inclusive and engage and represent a broad range of students in the community, including those who are not traditionally engaged in school leadership roles.  Hearing from multiple voices is important: those who may be marginalized, those learning English as an additional language, those with disabilities, and those who tend not to be engaged.  Input should not be reduced to tokenism.  Seeking authentic voice needs to be intentional, with effective structures put in place.  Some ways to ensure authentic student voice:

  • Be clear about the school board’s vision and commitment for student voice.
  • Support schools to be involved in encouraging student involvement.  Ask them to provide information about school boards, their purpose, and the role of a trustee.  Ask them to seek out diverse candidates. 
  • Offer training for students so they can effectively participate in the governing structures and develop as young leaders.
  • Assist students who become involved in governance to conduct surveys seeking input from a variety of voices.
  • Make use of student advisory groups where students are selected to represent a range of voices in decisions that influence policy.
  • Include more than one student representative on board committees or other governing bodies.
  • Support student conferences, associations, and professional development opportunities, where input from a larger number of students can be solicited.

The Canadian School Boards Association believes the benefits of student voice in the governance of education offer great value and enhance the delivery of education to meet student’s needs.  All school boards in the country are encouraged to find ways to embed student voice in their decision-making to demonstrate their commitment to student-centered education.