#VicSRCvoices: Unlocking student voice
Student voice is not only about giving students the opportunity to express their ideas and opinions, but also giving them the ability to influence change and actively contribute to their own learning. 17 year old Chester Ngan has first-hand experience of turning little ideas into something big at Mount Waverley Secondary College.
At Mount Waverley Secondary College, there used to be a Student Representative Council. Representatives from different year levels attended weekly meetings to identify issues in the school and suggest ways to fix them. From rubbish to toilets, there were many concerns raised and many ways put forward to address them. However, the problem was that these issues were not addressed. Students had a voice but no change was made. The process of identifying a problem, discussing ways to solve it and writing a proposal letter was not effective.
Then, in mid-2014, the college’s first Year 10 Leadership Team was established with nineteen passionate student leaders brought together by a common goal and driven by a shared interest in giving back to the college and the wider college community. Through this team, we were able to express our ideas and opinions and act on them. For example, we were determined to improve college life for our peers so we ran Year Level Assemblies, staff v. students’ dodgeball and volleyball, debating competitions, etc. We further enhanced our voice by attending external opportunities such as EVATT, UN Youth Voice, the Rotary Four Way Public Speaking Contest and the VicSRC Congress.
This year saw the introduction of Student Leadership teams at Year 9 and Year 11 and a Teach the Teacher committee. The Year 9-11 Student Leadership teams worked together to turn vision into reality, involving the students of the college in decision-making processes.
We believe that a student leader isn’t someone who only wears a shiny badge or holds a prestigious position, but rather someone who also uses their position – their influence – to turn little ideas into something big, to create positive change and to empower other students, not to create followers, but to create more influencers and more leaders.
We want to amplify and clarify student voice and provide a platform for everyone to express their ideas and opinions. We were able to do this through VicSRC's Teach the Teacher program. We were able to listen to our peers and pinpoint our main focus – to improve the exchange of feedback between students and teachers. Likewise, the leadership teams are listening to the students of the college to boost student engagement, improve student wellbeing and support, and enhance the atmosphere of the college.
In 2016, the College Captains will be working with the Sports Captains and the inaugural Arts, Music and Sustainability Captains to lead the Student Leaders, House Captains and Prefects to further enhance student voice and make a positive difference in the college as a whole.
From our experiences, there is so much more potential when student voice is unlocked and magnified.
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