Student voice in secondary schools

So being a member of student voice is a privilege within itself. Being able to have a voice and to be the representative voice of the school body is very important. It enables me to be able to communicate, with not just the student body but to take those ideas and communicate them with the leadership team above us. So that helps to implement changes and ideas and improvements that we want to see in the school. Students are at the centre of everything that we do so how can their opinion about how we do things not matter. The main aim of the year of the year level councils is to organise year level based events, fund raise for a variety of charities and discuss year level based issues and possible solutions. They then report to our Student Voice Team, who run 3, 30 minute sessions with the whole school each term which focuses on issues within the school as well as exploring wider social, cultural and environmental issues. This allows students to run workshops on issues they are passionate about and seek whole school feedback on ideas and suggestions for moving forward. The student voice is really a vehicle for change. Those students are able to voice their opinions, but to have those opinions heard and recognised by other students. The student voice home group is a vertical home group, made up of students from years 9, 10, 11 and 12. Though we have students from all different year levels, coming together, working together in order to try and represent the voices of our kids here, at Golden Grove High School. The student voice association is an opportunity for students to give their opinions and ideas to us. We’re able to give that to our teachers, student leaders and then from there, they just give it to the Principal, and then sort of decisions are made. Bigger issues that involve not so much the students but the school in general, that’s more brought up in Governing Council, where me, Lana and Jordan attend and um, we basically just listen to them and just make sure that our opinions are being heard. Well I think our school values student voice pretty strongly. The fact that we have over 60 clubs and then we have teachers who are willing to sacrifice lunch times to supervise those clubs. Plus we have a dedicated Student Life Coordinator position shows how much our school actually values that. As Student Life Coordinator I’m responsible for the 50 clubs and groups that meet once per week. The clubs are entirely student led so I work with the club captains to ensure that their meetings are managed effectively and all events, excursions and fund raisers that are associated with those clubs. We have a lot of cultural and creative clubs, advocacy for human rights and it’s a chance for students to come together and to support these causes that they really care about. By being engaged with clubs, students developing their leadership, their communication, they are gaining social life skills and really improving their well-being so there’s a lot of lessons to learn, I think, that are outside of the classroom. So the Environment Committee is a group of staff members and students which is made up of myself as the Environment Club Captain, the Student Life Coordinator, our Assistant Principal and Dolcie, who is an SSO and another student the Environment Prefect. So together we work on the bigger projects. Things like the three bin system or getting solar panels on our roof at the school that are just a little bit too big for a student led club to manage by itself. Student voice has been strong for at least 16 years, here because the decision was made to make sure student reps were on every committee in the school with voting rights. About 7 years ago the Principal then included the sustainability as part of the role of the Science Coordinator and that’s when the first committee was formed for sustainability. The Sustainability Committee comprises of myself, interested staff, student representatives from Student Representatives Council and any other interested students. Being on the Sustainability Committee is an outlet to share to share you ideas and opinions on how to make Nuriootpa High School more environmentally friendly. We came up with the idea of having mesh covers on the ten cent recycling bins so that students are able to look in and see exactly what was in that bin to help prompt them to put their ten cent recycling in there. And that’s a good example of how the one idea of developing our recycling options combined with many people resulted in a different idea and a new idea that wasn’t previously thought of. Urrbrae offers students the opportunity to promote what they feel passionate about. What is unique about student voice at Urrbrae is that we offer a multi faceted program that blends both interntal and external programs. Our student projects are woven into the curriculum by SACE accreditation at Year 11. This is how our group is set up By leadership we mean providing opportunities for students to lead group members by mentoring younger students and coordinating events. With actions we recognise that some kids are ground workers and just want to get out there and take action and our group is now linked to the SRC as it has 2 representatives on this committee. The Environmental Focus Group is a student voice group which links in with the Student Representative Council. I wanted to join the Environmental Focus Group at Urrbrae since I had a lot of connection with our environmental group at primary school and also being involved in the Youth Environmental Council in year 6. Kids teaching kids is one of the main external projects the Environmental Focus Group run throughout the year. It is held at the Urrbrae Wetlands and it engages local primary school to come down and to teach other students about the environment. We’ve created a SACE unit for students to gain 10 accreditation points for the work they do in the Environmental Focus Group which is additional to their classroom work for traditional subjects. We act as a communication pathway for students to other teachers and especially to professionals and experts in the field. The students also have their own communication system too so within our club we do have senior leaders and the students, the younger students know that they can find and go to them and they will have the knowledge and information. I’ve become a lot more confident in both my public speaking and socialising skills. I’ve also met plenty of people who had similar interests to me so I have plenty to talk about and discuss when introducing myself to people. Their ideas are heard and we act upon them and then we take that through the school and share and really celebrate what they bring to our school.

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