Without student contribution and leadership, school change would be based on what adults think is best. Unfortunately, they are not the best-informed people when it comes to what the student experience of the education system is really like. So, who is the expert on education? The people that are currently students of course!–Alyssa, VicSRC Student Executive Member
With the election coming up this year, organisations from all around Victoria have joined forces to campaign for a better, more inclusive education system. The campaign for #strongerschools is led by the Victorian Council for Social Service (VCOSS) and supported by specialist organisations in the social sector. Stakeholders in education and youth work like Victorian Student Representative Council (VicSRC) and Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) are key players in making sure the advocacy messages of the campaign reach far and wide.
The Stronger Schools campaign is working to make sure that the next government delivers on the wants of stakeholders in education. Policy area five of this campaign pushes for an education that gives students a greater voice in shaping their own education. The big asks in this area are increasing student voice in every school to improve student learning, engagement and school governance and investing in holistic education models so every student has access to a wide range of options including Vocational Education and Training (VET), Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) and flexible learning options.
From a VicSRC and student perspective, the first ask, “increasing student voice in every school to improve student learning”, places a great importance on the role of students. We can choose to be active leaders in the school community instead of being passive watchers. Having student voice in our school community guarantees that education isn’t done to us, it’s done with us. That’s why quality education can’t happen without student leadership.
Without student contribution and leadership, school change would be based on what adults think is best. Unfortunately, they are not the best-informed people when it comes to what the student experience of the education system is really like. So, who is the expert on education? The people that are currently students of course!
An increase in student voice and engagement will result in a better sense of belonging and pride. This will have a flow-on effect on what a school community is like. It’s important for students to have the support of their teachers and principal. Teachers and principals should talk directly to students to find out what they need instead of relying only on student surveys that don’t reveal the whole picture. Principals can engage with the school’s Student Representative Council (SRC) to hear how students are affected by decisions made higher up. They can also conduct vox pops with students directly. Students should have the opportunity to make changes in their school community so that they can feel the positive effects of their actions first-hand.
VicSRC has long campaigned for student voice and leadership in Victorian schools because we recognise how incredibly important it can be in the education system and how crucial it can be to improving student outcomes. And finally, the people in power are listening! Earlier this year, the Hon Minister for Education James Merlino MP, issued a ministerial order making it compulsory for two students to be on every school council. Not only that, but these students have to be elected by their peers, making sure that pure student voice is at work.
Another example of students leading the way to create change is the ‘Statement of Student Rights.’ At VicSRC we are currently creating a list of existing student rights after identifying that knowledge of rights was very important to students in Victoria. Throughout this process, we’ve consulted a number of people and organisations including StuVoice in the United States. They talked about the importance of student voice how this has had a positive impact on the students in the US, for example, the Never Again campaign, led by students, for students. Students and adults are finally realising the power and positive impact of student voice.
Student leadership and student voice are integral to the functioning of education. They promote engagement and a sense of belonging and ensure that we, the students, are active participants in our education. It provides benefits to both the students and the adults in charge. The only thing stopping us from having a truly inclusive education is our willingness to listen to all voices of education, to really consider their opinions and ideas. Then, we can really have a fantastic education system where no one is left behind.
Add your voice to the Stronger Schools campaign
Sign the petition for stronger schools, send your individual messages to the major parties, and stay in touch with Victoria’s progress towards more supportive and inclusive education. Discover what’s happening on social media using #strongerschools.
YACVic supports #strongerschools!
YACVic's #vicyouth2020 action plan supports student voice and an inclusive education system for all young people in Victoria. Check out our #vicyouth2020 theme 'Every young person needs a real voice in decisions to read about our priorities for students in Victoria.
VicSRC is the peak body representing school aged students in Victoria and is auspiced by YACVic. VicSRC is a student-led, organised and initiated organisation run for the benefit of students. Check out VicSRC here or find them all over social on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.