It's not too often that we have the opportunity to head out and engage with regional & rural schools across Victoria. If one thing became clear to us over the duration of our Education Week 2023 Regional Roadtrip, its that so many schools out there have a lot to say when it comes to their student voice initiatives!
Last week, myself (Abby - Communications & Marketing Manager), Keisha (Programs Officer) and Julia (CEO) left the confines of the concrete jungle and made our way down to the beautiful South West Coast region of Victoria in an effort to engage with regional & rural schools who don't always have the opportunity to be involved in our student voice initiatives.
Over the course of the week, we met with students of all ages, in all kinds of schools. From Warrnambool College's 1250 secondary students, to Lavers Hill K-12 College's 35 (or so students) across the whole span of schooling years, we heard and saw perspectives and plans from a broad range of students in both leadership and the general student body.
We started our trip over in Portland, with a visit to Bolwarra Primary School to meet with four of their student leaders who are currently undertaking a school-wide student voice survey to identify spaces that student participation can be boosted to promote better learning outcomes for students. The Bolwarra students also stated (which became a consistent refrain over the course of our trip) that they would love to have the opportunity to meet with other students across the state who are passionate about student voice, agency and participation.
Our next stop was Warrnambool College, a far cry from the small student body at Bolwarra Primary. We were delighted to see a deeply embedded commitment to student voice across the student body, with a multitude of student representative teams covering everything from a standard student representative council (SRC), all the way to a dedicated sustainability leadership group. Keisha & I also ventured to the local playground with the infamous "super-fast, super-fun" slide, to try and get into the mind-frame of Warrnambool students. I (thankfully) survived to tell the tale.
On our way to our pre-booked SRT training workshop with Surf Coast Secondary, we stopped off for a first time visit to two rural schools in the Corangamite Shire - Derrinallum P-12 College & Lavers Hill K-12 College. We were delighted to be able to visit these schools that we had never had the opportunity to engage with before and learned a lot from the students about the challenges that smaller cohorts have with implementing student voice initiatives. We look forward to working in an ongoing capacity with these two schools, as well as other rural schools across Victoria.
After our super successful SRT workshop in Torquay (and having our dinner being delivered by an actual robot at the local ramen joint), our last stop was Sacred Heart College in Geelong where we spoke with students across Year 7 - Year 11 leadership about pressing issues in their school. Our two hour time-slot certainly only scratched the surface, with a significant amount of time dedicated to the all important spectrum debate practice topic - "Beyonce is overrated". Don't worry, we promise we got to the bottom of student voice stuff as well.
Keisha, Julia and I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to venture out and meet students and teachers from such a diverse range of schools. If you're a rural or regional school in Victoria and would like us to visit you on our next road trip, get in touch! Just email [email protected] and let us know.