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C2 Module 2.4

Empowering students

Before You Begin

How are students empowered within your school?

Student empowerment means giving young people the opportunity to actively participate in school decisions that will shape their lives. Think about the students in your school, how are they currently empowered?

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MindMatters believes in empowering students – but what does empowerment really mean?

What is student empowerment?

Student empowerment means giving young people the opportunity to actively participate in school decisions that will shape their lives and the lives of their peers. Student empowerment is student-led, and will therefore look different in every school. When students have the right skills, support and environment, it’s amazing what they can produce.

Empowerment is more than consultation

While all schools involve students to some extent, it’s less common to find students involved in significant ways throughout the course of an initiative. Sometimes schools make a symbolic effort to involve young people, perhaps by recruiting one or two students to be involved in a consultation or onto a committee. This gives the appearance of consulting with and involving students yet can also be seen as tokenistic. Student empowerment involves a way of working that truly engages young people as full partners in devising and leading initiatives.

Five key elements to student empowerment

Five key elements can help a variety of student-led, school-based actions and programs to evolve:

1. Commitment
Student empowerment starts with the school staff’s understanding of, belief in and commitment to young people taking an active role in promoting wellbeing at school.

2. Knowledge and skills
Building staff and student knowledge and skills about mental health and the importance of help-seeking, as well as in responsible decision-making, personal and social skills, and collaboration.

3. Confidence
Building the confidence and capacity of young people to speak up, to present and tackle issues, to make changes and to take appropriate risks.

4. Opportunities and responsibilities
Providing all interested students with opportunities to support wellbeing in their school in a way that is meaningful for them and their school community.

5. Active support
Active support from teachers and other adults at the school.

How could your school improve student empowerment?

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NEXT STEPS

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FURTHER RESOURCES