VicSRC in 2020 – what a year!

What a year 2020’s been! From the #AustralianBushFires at the start of the year, to #COVID19 taking the world by storm, multiple lockdowns, school closures and learning from home, it’s certainly been a year like no other. Students across Victoria have faced many unexpected challenges this year and have persevered through it all with resilience, adaptability, and sheer brilliance! But what else have we at VicSRC gotten up to in 2020?

8. Got bigger and busier

VicSRC had its biggest year ever, with a full complement of nine staff members, and students from all over the state getting to know us through programs both virtual and face-to-face. We’ve seen students at our first ever virtual Congress, students nominating and voting for their Student Executive Advisory Committee and over five hundred students told us what they thought of remote learning! We’ve seen and heard from more of you on video calls, social media and emails than ever before and we can’t wait to see and hear even more from student across Victoria next year!

7. Teach the Teacher webinars

Despite the struggles of 2020 keeping us out of schools for most of the year, Teach the Teacher carried on! Not only did we switch (almost seamlessly) to delivering our Teach the Teacher sessions remotely through video call and chat in schools that were keen to go ahead, we also brought Teach the Teacher to a wider audience with a focused webinar series on the underpinning student voice principles and how to use them to improve your practice in 2021! Keep an eye out on our social media to find out when you can watch recordings of these.

6. Editorial team

After a few years of work, the VicSRC Student Editorial Team kicked into high gear in 2020! Made up of fifteen to twenty secondary students from all around the state, the team was only able to meet in person once before the pandemic took their work online. But that didn’t stop them! Publishing more than twenty student-written and edited pieces, the team tackled topics from boredom in isolation and lockdown to how to stay safe online and the ways discrimination can affect disabled students in the Victorian education system. Keep your eyes peeled for the opportunity to join the editorial team in 2021 or just to read their fabulous new pieces.

5. Advocacy wins

Here at VicSRC we’re always hard at work on the advocacy projects that students tell us matter to them. And advocacy was an even stringer focus for us in 2020, as decisions about moving to remote learning happened with little notice and student life shifted overnight. We’ve had a huge number of wins this year, including the announced integration of VCE and VCAL bringing more robust real world skills to the curriculum, student access to devices improving, teachers receiving professional development accreditation for student voice, increased support for students experiencing financial difficulties and disabled students and new investment in student mental health. And we’re not done! Watch our socials to see how we’re taking your Congress priorities into 2021 and what you can do to help.

4. DET translation project

This year has been a lot. It’s involved a lot of screen time and a lot of information coming at us all very quickly and sometimes in ways that makes it very hard to understand. Early on after the pandemic started VicSRC noticed that the information coming from the Department of Education and Training (DET) was not pitched at students. It was also often written in a way that made it confusing and hard to follow. To fix this, we took up translating information from the DET into Plain English as it became available, sharing it on the Student Voice Hub through twelve different blog posts and across our social media. We saw amazing feedback and are glad to have been able to make this year even a little bit easier for students!

3. Learning from remote learning reports

In between all the advocating and translating, we also wanted to hear what students had to say about the experience of learning remotely – mostly so we could do our advocating and translating better! We weren’t sure how many students would want to talk about it when we launched our first remote learning survey, but it turned out the answer was a lot: we heard from more than five hundred students on our first survey, and from that we crafted our ‘Learning from remote learning’ report with six recommendations. But while we were still talking about it with all kinds of education stakeholders, lockdown came back around! So we scoured the information we had and produced a Return to remote learning report, then when round two was done we did another survey and put out our Learning from remote learning: round 2 report. We’re still talking to lots of people about them and we’re excited about the ways the experience of remote learning can help make school work better for students in the long run!

2. Virtual Congress

One of the staples of the VicSRC calendar is our annual Congress, where students from around Victoria come together to discuss the biggest issues in education and what actions we can take to address them. Early in the year our Congress Coordinator and Student Executive Advisory Committee made the call that Congress 2020 couldn’t go ahead as planned. Instead, we postponed Congress until the September-October school holidays, and set about taking it online. Despite all the challenges (or perhaps because of them!) virtual Congress was a huge success!! Across four days, students put together some of the best action plans we’ve ever seen and we’re excited to work on them with and for you as we head into 2021!

1. Independence!

After fifteen years as an auspiced organisation, 2020 saw VicSRC take its first steps out from under the wings of Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) to stand and soar as an independent organisation. After appointing our inaugural board in 2019 and starting the paperwork it hardly felt real when we officially became VicSRC Ltd! This was only possible due to the incredibly hard work of Jonathan Teh and Angela Liu from Russell Kennedy as well as the members of the Governance Advisory Group: Mitch Sprague, Bri Hines, Julia Jeong, Spencer Davis, Kristen Sellings, David Trevorrow, Krista Seddon, Ed Vong, Peter Hutton and Scott Duncan.

We couldn’t have done this without each and every person who has helped build VicSRC into what it is today – here’s to another fifteen years of brilliant student voice!