School Council case study – Andrew, South-East Melbourne

Andrew - South-East Melbourne

I ran for school council because I wanted to gain a deeper understanding into how the school operates behind the scenes. I also thought that it would be great for key stakeholders such as parents to receive regular updates on Student Leadership at the school as well as gain perspective directly from a student when discussing policies or other agenda items.

I felt that the process of nominating and voting was streamlined well, treated all candidates fairly and felt very official. However, I feel like not many students knew all the candidates which may have led to misinformed voting. I also think most students didn’t know much about school council causing disinterest both in candidacy and voting. For my school, the election and voting was announced via Compass. Unfortunately, no context on what School Council is or how the voting process would work was provided which I think was crucially missing. Personally, I think all students (as well as parents and staff) should receive information about what the School Council is, their role and how to apply (maybe through information released via a school’s newsletter, announcement portal annually and assemblies).

For me, one of the most challenging aspects of being on the council is going through all the documentation before the meeting and being able to fully understand what’s being presented. As a representative, you receive a lot of papers and it can take time to break down and comprehend. For all councillors, I feel like an induction is paramount to allow any member of the school council to know what’s happening the best of their ability.

The best bit about being a school councillor has been the insight that I receive both from the school administration and parents around how the school runs. This knowledge allows me to create informed judgements and recommendations I can share with the College council based on feedback I receive from my Student Leadership Team. The intrinsic feeling of making a difference towards the College community is always satisfying making it a very worthwhile experience being a representative.

Andrew’s advice for students thinking about nominating to join the school council:

Do it! Especially for students who may be curious about wanting to know how a school operates or is yearning for more student voice, School Council is a great avenue to share your thoughts on behalf of your peers. If you’re not too sure about the whole process, help is always only a few steps away! I found that my school administration team and past councillors were super helpful and gave me a good perspective into the process of both the election and School Council as a whole.

Andrew’s advice on how adults can make sure student councillors are fully included in school council:

As students are still developing and growing (like everyone else for that matter), it never goes astray to offer a hand around interpreting financial reports or ask what their opinion is. Even if it’s a matter that a student may not have a lot of knowledge around, taking the time to share what you know so the representative can go back to their peers and go to Council with an informed judgement will be well worth it. Everyone is on the same side and everyone is trying to make the school a better place. Unfortunately, some people underestimate the capacity of students but when you’re in the business centred around students, it’s so important to hear what they have to say. I’ve been grateful to not have experienced this myself, but I’ve heard recounts from other students who haven’t had this feeling and it’s a shame because students have a perspective that no other stakeholders are able to have.

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