Student Voice

Students are at the heart of everything we do. Their voice matters.

Natspec values learner voice through:

  • individual college activities
  • the National Student Council
  • campaigns on specific topics


Natspec colleges make sure that students are a part of the decision making process, and that their views are taken into account when planning programmes, activities and provision.  Every Natspec college has a student union or council, or runs other “student voice” activities to ensure that young people are part of decision making at college. Some of the methods that colleges use include:

  • Student councils: student representatives from different parts of the colleges are elected to speak for their groups. The council is sometimes linked to the formal governance of the college, with a student representative on the board of governors.
  • Some colleges support students to speak speaking at national conferences run by organisations such as the National Union of Students
  • Regular student forums on different topics, involving the whole college
  • Students write and design their own newsletters
  • Some colleges have a facility such as a ‘Big Brother booth’ for students to record their own video diary –  e.g. on topics like “when is a lesson good”
  • Colleges asks students to complete surveys once or twice a year, and also Natspec runs a national learner survey. The latest data from our survey can be downloaded here
  • Students get involved with their local authority or local democracy, for example through meeting their local councillors or sitting on local Equality Panels.
  • Some students help assistive technology companies to design new products and develop new technologies.

National Council

At National level, in 2017 Natspec will launch the National Student Council. The role of the National Council will be to:

  • Promote the high quality student voice activities of individual colleges
  • Ensure that this voice is heard and promoted at a national level
  • Help students from different colleges talk to each other about issues that are important to them, for example sex or relationship issues, transport, access to services, ideas about the curriculum, access to employment or work placements, and acceptance or discrimination.
  • Give students experience of working at a national level, travel to other places and see new things
  • Demonstrate the passion, skills and abilities of learners with learning difficulties and disabilities

The Council will meet twice per year and run regular on-line forums, surveys and discussions.


A Right not a Fight campaign ran from 2014 to 2016 and included activities, ambassador training, meetings, press coverage and marches. The campaign called for students with a learning difficulty or disability to have the same choices that most young people take for granted, such as choosing a further education college that best meets their learning and support needs. The campaign aimed to:

  • ensure that every local authority provides advice and guidance, and includes all options for specialist provision on their Local Offer website
  • help young people make their voice heard, and cut through the barriers involved in getting a place at college
  • help parents and families understand the legislation and ensure they could visit all colleges to make an informed choice
  • achieve true equality so that learners with learning difficulties and disabilities have the same options as their peers.


From left Firielle Aljubeh Sarah Merriman and Claudia Booth






Rhys George, a student from Oakwood Court College, Devon, said: “Going to Oakwood College has allowed me to live life to the extreme and actually make something of my life.”


Students from UK specialist colleges launch 'A Right Not a Fight' campaign


Foxes student with fox

Lord Low joins staff and students from UK specilialist college at 'Right Not a Fight' launch


The views of parents: “We have twice arranged and then cancelled visits to an outstanding specialist college. Both times we were at first discouraged and then, subsequently warned off attempting to send our daughter there as we were told by the LA she would not get funding for ‘out of county’ education as her needs can be adequately met locally. We stumbled on ‘Specialist Colleges’ almost by accident. The LA seems determined that we should forget them”.


Staff, students and parents at national 'Right Not a Fight' launch



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