#VicSRCvoices: Student voice represented at the 2017 Education State in Schools Forum

In this issue of #VicSRCvoices, Student Executive Cohen Saunders reports on his recent experience at the 2017 Education State in Schools Forum.

Between Wednesday the 6th and Thursday the 7th of December, five VicSRC
executive members participated in the 2nd annual Education State in Schools Forum hosted by the Department of Education (DET).

The wealth of innovative educational ideas being thrown around was awesome, and Alyssa, Rames, Bri, Tiffany and I, Cohen, all felt that our opinions and ideas were valued and listened to.

Over these two days we discussed many different areas of education with the focus of ‘working together better to improve student outcomes.’

Among the ideas were a more integrated approach to educational resources, a more inclusive focus on teaching pedagogy rather than strict curriculum, and a better connection between the DET and leading teachers, not only principals.

Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), a trial initiative that allows teachers to have time off class to discuss pedagogy and classroom practice with other teachers, was also a major theme of the forum.

It was mentioned that every successful education system around the world employs a system similar to PLCs, and the need for students, parents, and the wider school community to become more involved with PLCs was expressed.

Later on we heard from two of our own executive members, Alyssa and Rames, and two Rural Youth Ambassadors in a student panel that talked on the ways that we can make sure students voice is encouraged, how we can make sure students are learning the skills they need to effectively contribute to their community, and the things that can be done to make sure that student voice in schools is further sustained and spread.

After a discussion that spanned from the theory of SRCs to career counselling we broke off to further brainstorm on student voice in schools with all the stakeholders present. Some of the great ideas that came out of this session included developing a common understanding of what student voice looks like between all stakeholders, empowering students to be part of designing the curriculum, and including students in staff selection processes.

Seeing all these important people in Victorian education united in trying to improve student voice was amazing, and it was awesome to see the dedication to this cause of everyone in the room.

Overall, the Education State in Schools Forum was an amazing experience for all of us on the VicSRC Executive, and, to quote Bri, “It really felt like our opinions were valued (as) opinions coming from equal stakeholders."

We would like to thank the DET for the opportunity to attend this forum, and understand the views of teachers, principals and others in the system. We all had a great time, and we can’t wait to see what will come out of this great, student-centred discussion over the next year.

#VicSRCvoices is a rolling series driven by the stories and experiences of student representatives. It’s about who we are; what we value; what drives us to act; and what fuels our passions to advocate for what we believe in.

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