Surf Coast Secondary College – Case Study

Surf Coast Secondary College

WINNER – VEC Student Voice Secondary School of the Year

We feel like we have an actual voice through our coaching role.

Student Voice: A Whole School Approach at Surf Coast Secondary College

Student coaching is one of the main focuses at Surf Coast Secondary College in 2019, as they believe it is extremely important for students to be able to work with their teachers to provide them with feedback on not necessarily what they are teaching, but how.

Surf Coast believe student voice is when their school gets feedback and input from all members, not only staff, but all individuals who are affected by change. Students as Coaches gives students the opportunity to have a platform where they feel comfortable to give constructive feedback to teachers. Students trust each other to give supportive and helpful feedback to teachers because any changes will better the learning environment and students can hold the responsibility to effectively change a school for the better.

Student coaches will look at the teacher’s data, discuss the area they want them to focus on immediately, talk about strategies they could apply and then provide them with immediate feedback during class using tools like traffic lights or a thumbs up, sideways or down gesture. A quick conversation after the class helps the teacher to keep on track and be reflective during the coaching session.

Surf Coast have implemented assessment tasks that allow students to select a level that they feel is appropriate to demonstrate their learning, such as:

  • Information
  • Knowledge
  • Know How
  • Wisdom

In addition to that, teachers have introduced students to a new opportunity to look at feedback and how students can provide this to teachers. They use data such as Student to Teacher data which is collected across the school, Attitudes to School Survey data, as well as small group collective data to feed forward ideas to teachers.

Individually, students complete a form reflecting on what they want teachers to stop, start and keep doing. Students then come together to discuss these and write a collectively agreed upon one for the teacher. The student coach then presents this agreed data to the teacher and they start conversations with “we want you to start doing ____ immediately” and this becomes the focus for the first discussion and observations.

Teachers also get students to reflect on a unit of work by looking at what were the strengths, weaknesses and interesting ways students learnt about the topics. From this, students formed a curriculum committee across year levels where they developed a variety of activities for their peers to select from to show their understanding of the content. Teachers worked with the students to identify their learning styles and then provided students with the tools to develop activities. The feedback from the student body has been overwhelmingly positive and they loved the excursion that was organised as a result.

Changes Made

Students feel like they have an actual voice through their coaching role. When they meet with their teacher weekly or fortnightly to have a 1:1 coaching session with them, the students know that the teachers are taking on what is said as they see the teachers put it into practice.
Students are really happy to see the teachers not only taking on feedback, but also asking other students more regularly for their feedback and using certain tools to quickly gauge where everyone is at.

What’s next?

Surf Coast plan to advance student voice and agency by further embedding and pursuing these newfound practices. They hope to keep these actions continuous and will begin to implement them throughout the whole school, including all year levels with a large variety of students from all walks of life and begin to create more ways to better include more students.

The Challenges

Challenge: Some teachers haven’t been as compliant to the feedback compared to others
Action: Persistent coaching by students

Challenge: Getting all students to understand the intended impact
Action: Educate students about what student voice and agency is

Surf Coast’s Advice

  • Hear each individual’s opinions
  • Converse with students to see what is or isn’t possible
  • Reach out to all year levels across the school
  • Create a variety of options in student voice and agency
  • Find a teacher or teachers who can lead you and spread the word
  • Implement a diverse group of student representatives to allow a wide range of opinions and ideas

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

Surf Coast Case Study 2019 (65 downloads)