School Council case study – Sienna, South-West Victoria

A photo of Sienna

I decided to run for the student position on my school council because I always try to extend myself within my school and community. Also, I am passionate about making positive changes within my school and student voice, especially the voice of students who don’t feel comfortable talking to adults, or who struggle to get their voices heard because of the view some teachers may have of them.

I found the process of nominating and voting quite easy, as only me and one other student elected to run for school council out of the 800 kids at my school. A lot of students at my school view positions such as school council and SRC to be nerdy and boring, and I think that’s why not many people nominated.

For me, the most challenging thing about being a school council member is definitely the feeling of not being trusted. Sometimes I will be sitting in the meeting and it feels like everyone is very careful and cautious of what they say, and after our meetings my Principals always talk to me about how everything is confidential.

When you become one of the reasons something was improved, added or changed within your own school the feeling is euphoric.

I do think that as I continue to go to the meetings the trust will grow. I have not and never will disclose information from our meetings as I take my position very seriously. I hope they understand that.

On the other hand the most rewarding thing about being a school council member is being able to actually impact the students in my school in a positive way, and them knowing that I will listen to them if they have anything they want to be heard. I almost act as a mediator between the students and educators.

I have seen more students getting involved in the programs we set up, but I have only been on the school council for a few months so there will probably be more to come!

We have put together a few groups to help enforce the phone ban within my school, which has really helped the students understand how and why it is happening – this is because the information has come from other students, and in my experience, students are more likely to listen to their peers because they can trust them and relate to them rather than adults. Also, we have started renovations on our cooking classrooms and the front of the school which has had the students buzzing. We are all so excited, especially for the new cooking rooms as we have had the exact same ones and equipment for almost 80 years.

Sienna’s advice for students thinking about nominating for school council

I would say just go for it, but be prepared to take on a lot of information. Also, don’t ever be afraid to ask questions, because that is how you get a better understanding of things!

I personally think that to do well in school council, you must be dedicated. I am very passionate about student voice and partnering with teachers, educators, and the wider community. I understand that it is not for everyone, but as a student, if you think it might interest you in the slightest, go for it. When you become one of the reasons something was improved, added or changed within your own school the feeling is euphoric.

Sienna’s advice for adults supporting students

Don’t just ask the students on the school council what they think, but encourage them to ask the other students who don’t typically speak up, or to just ask them themselves. Also, the adults should be completely straight forward with the students.

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