After Project Zero won the Student-Led Project Award at the 2019 Student Voice Awards we asked the students at Minaret College, Officer, to share their thoughts on how to establish and use their student voice.
What does student voice mean to you?
It means students are empowered to air their opinions, ideas, criticisms, suggestions and initiatives to ensure their needs are met with the schools values, goals, expectations, standards, policies, vision and mission statements.
It means students are valued for the contributions to the school and the community at large.
It means that students are applying for their rights now so that they can build self-confidence to become active citizens in the near future, to serve humanity with compassion and care.
What does your school do to include student voice at every level (individual, classroom, school, etc)?
We have the Student Representative Council (SRC) member in each classroom for the past 2 years. Thus we have a lot of SRC members for Middle school and Senior school. The SRC will conduct weekly meetings to organise events or discuss ideas. However, the SRC has not been given enough training to understand and apply the role of Student Voice.
We only have school captains and deputy captains for senior school but not for middle school.
What are the benefits to having student voice be a big part of your school?
The school leadership and school management will be able to analyse and evaluate their policies, standards, values, goals, vision and mission statements from the students’ perspectives, and not just based on their own observations or staff’s feedback.
Another great benefit is that the student voice is conducted in an ongoing manner and not just conducted in the beginning and/or end of the academic year.
A new school culture can be cultivated where students are learnt to be proactive and solve problems before it arises.
What advice would you give to other schools who want to empower student voice?
School leadership and management need to be brave to recognise that students can contribute creative ideas and suggestions, and that changes are necessary to resolve problems.
School leadership and management also need to trust their students and vice versa so that staff and students can discover synergy to produce greater changes and outcomes.
School leadership and management also need to be ready to offer guidance if students make mistakes or require assistance during times of struggle.
What’s next for student voice at your school?
Beginning next year 2020, we are changing our SRC format where selected individuals from year level are selected to sit in the SRC which will comprise of 2 main committees: the Student Voice and the Student Action. The Student Voice will focus on getting students’ feedback on policies, values, curriculum and wellbeing matters that are evolving in respond to challenges and changes that are happening within and outside school environment. The Student Voice team will then communicate and share the information collated with the Student Action team with recommendations for events, programs, facilities or projects.
In Term 4 2019, we have conducted school captaincy elections for both senior and middle schools. The election process include: –
- online application forms by interested students,
- conducting interviews to narrow down the candidates’ list,
- delivery of speeches by the candidates and
- running online voting using Microsoft Forms.
The Student Voice will be using more digital platforms for some regular meetings and feedbacks. Email collaboration group emails will be created to improve communication.