Ivanhoe East Primary School – Case Study

Ivanhoe East Primary School

WINNER – Student Voice Primary School of the Year

“Learning is guided by students rather than driven by curriculum documents.”

Student Voice: A Whole School Approach at Ivanhoe East

Ivanhoe East Primary School staff have been working as one over the last three years to build a shared approach to the inclusion of student voice and agency.

They have:

Built an understanding of the importance of working with students so that teachers can engage them in the learning process by:

  • Listening to students
  • observing students
  • ensuring that the learning program reflects student needs and interests

Developed planning and goal setting processes that include student voice and agency to engage students in the learning process and build on their knowledge, skills and strengths.

Developed the ability to respond to feedback during a unit of inquiry, where teachers plan the first two weeks of learning and then seek student feedback to plan the remainder of the inquiry cycle.

Supported students to develop awareness of their own progress so that they know their next steps for learning and become responsible for achieving their learning goals through the use of:

  • Co-constructed rubrics
  • ‘I can’ statements
  • exit slips
  • goal setting

Established student bodies, such as a Principal’s Advisory Group and a Green Team. These groups of students meet regularly to influence whole school improvement. New initiatives implemented by these groups include:

  • A whole school review of the school values.
  • The introduction of a school house system based on connection rather than competition.
  • The redesign of the canteen area to include new mascots, painting and shade cloths.

What’s next?

This work is continually evolving, and Ivanhoe East’s next priority is to refine their learning goal processes. In particular, how students share their evidence for learning and how this influences planning. Ivanhoe East will also continue to explore opportunities for students to participate in staff and school planning processes.

The Principal’s Advisory Group is finalising the school values review and these will be shared with the school during Term 4.

Ivanhoe East are currently preparing for their school review and have a team of teachers who are working together to develop questions for student focus groups and forums. These will provide the school with significant information as a part of the review. They are looking forward to creating a new School Strategic Plan that has Student Voice, Agency and Leadership as a key improvement strategy.

The Biggest Challenge

Some teachers and students are challenged by the thought of moving from a teacher led to student led culture.

The Solutions

  • Be consistent in your language and expectations. This means that student voice and agency continues to be a feature and has a dedicated team.
  • Invest in building leadership capacity – essential in order to capture the hearts and minds of teachers, students and parents.
  • Implement processes and structures that support teachers in this work – this includes whole school planning processes and specific professional learning that supports teachers in its implementation.

Ivanhoe East’s Advice for other schools

  • Make student voice and agency part of the School Strategic Plan so that it is integral to all key improvement initiatives throughout the school.
  • There needs to be strong leadership so that the work can be embedded throughout the school.
  • Build a shared language that supports the implementation of student voice and agency. A key component of this is moving from ‘student choice’ to ‘student voice.’
  • All teachers need to be a part of the conversation with students so that they can co-create learning opportunities together.
  • There needs to be a culture of continued improvement, innovation and risk taking so that the school feels confident without knowing what the end result is going to be.
  • Respond to what students are telling you and involve them in conversations so that they can hear about some of the barriers that might be in the way. They will provide you with solutions that you didn’t think existed.

Respond to what students are telling you and involve them in conversations so that they can hear about some of the barriers that might be in the way. They will provide you with solutions that you didn’t think existed.

Student Voice Primary School of the Year Award Award is part of the annual VicSRC Student Voice Awards which recognise and celebrate best practice initiatives, schools and people in student voice. 

Ivanhoe Case Study 2019 (68 downloads)