Clifton Springs Primary School's dedication to empowering student voice has led to major changes in the school, and a recent win at the VicSRC Awards for 2018 Primary Schools VicSRC of the Year.
Over the last five years, the student representative council (SRC) has become an important part of running the school - they even have their own office.
The SRC is made up of four school captains, and a male and female representative from each Year 3-6 class.
Student voice starts with student leadership
The first thing the SRC did was set up ongoing surveys with their classmates to ask what they thought of teachers, the school and learning.
From one set of these survey results, Year 4 SRC member Sarah says the SRC and staff leadership found that students wanted 'more of a say' in their learning.
'So [students] did a teach-the-teacher course, we ran a staff meeting with every teacher, and together we came up with a list of possible strategies that we could use,' Sarah says.
The SRC have regular meetings with school teachers and other students to share feedback and ideas
Together, they've created:
- A new playground - city council donated a big cement pipe from a leftover drainage project. Student Voice designed a way to make the pipe a feature of the playground.
- A bike and scooter shed
- A behaviour matrix based on school values
- A rewards system. Students get a tick next to their name when they do something that aligns with school values, and they receive a reward when they get 10 ticks.
- A routine where students choose the first school activity of the morning
- A feedback wall in classrooms
- Class meetings
Clifton Springs Primary School students say they feel like they have real influence in their education. Recent student feedback surveys and attitude to school surveys show a positive learning culture and learning outcomes for the students. More kids are interested in leadership roles at the school.
Assistant Principal Ben McCredden says he is proud of the school's hard work and the VicSRC Award, and hopes that other schools can see similar success with the help of their students.
'We really celebrate leadership positions and achievements like the VicSRC award, which helps make them something kids want to be involved in,' Ben says.
'Once kids are inspired to be leaders, they want to get involved.'
An important first step was to increase the value of student leadership positions in the school, Ben explains. They made more leadership positions at school and focused on making the roles more meaningful.
'We asked our student leaders – the school and house captains, and student wellbeing captains - "how do we make the roles more authentic and fun?"' Ben says. 'The kids brainstormed answers and we worked with them to put those in to action. '
'Now, these leadership roles that used to need a tap on the shoulder have two thirds of the eligible students apply.'
Ben's advice for other schools is to make sure to act on their SRC's decisions. 'Students want to see their voice heard and results in action,' Ben says.
'Making sure tangible things happen around the school so that they can see they have made a difference.'
Support student voice at your school
Strengthening student voice has brought a positive culture of student engagement and leadership to the Clifton Springs Primary School. Students feel a strong sense of ownership and school pride.
Student voice has become an integral part of the Victorian education system. Helping students to take ownership of their education enhances their engagement and enriches their participation in the school community.
Find out how students can get involved with leadership at their school at