Case study: Lalor East Primary School
School size: ~350 students
School type: Government, Coeducational, Prep to Grade 6
Lalor East Primary School is a great example of Student Voice in a primary school and demonstrates how even younger students can lead meaningful projects which service their peers and improve their experience of being at school. At Lalor East, students from grades 5 and 6 can be part of the Junior School Council (JSC) which collaborates with staff to design and deliver projects across a variety of issues. Student leaders in the JSC have noticed an increase in positive behaviours and decrease in negative behaviours connected to the projects they run, and due to the school’s commitment to flexible work based on feedback from students.
An important aspect of student voice at Lalor East is their commitment to facilitating a suggestion box which is checked every week in their JSC meetings. This allows the JSC to continuously tap into the needs of their peers and embed feedback into their work, which has led to the development of several key projects.
Based on feedback from students gathered via the suggestion box, the JSC at Lalor East has delivered on several important, peer-led projects which have meaningfully contributed to an improved sense of community and increased value of the needs of students at school.
After the Lalor East Primary School canteen was closed, the JSC listened to the wide-spread desire to purchase snacks and began selling icy-poles on hot days. The JSC manages the products, sales and roster of the program. Profits are injected back into the JSC to contribute to future projects, such as the purchase of a new flagpole to be able to fly the Torres Straight Islander flag at their school.
Previously, students at Lalor East PS have not been allowed to ride their bikes or scooters to school. After hearing requests from students to make this a possibility, the JSC lobbied leadership staff to allow students to ride to school, as it would benefit the community by encouraging healthy habits, and by helping some students to get to school on time. Once this project was signed off, the JSC worked with Bicycle Victoria to design and build a bike shed which is now widely used.
The Lalor East Cyber Action Team is led by students, It designs lessons for students across the school to teach them about being safe online. Students in the Cyber Action Team collaborate weekly to identify important learnings to be incorporated in lessons for the following week.
The Gardening Leaders at Lalor East take ownership over keeping the gardens in shape and have introduced new compost and recycling bins to benefit the school environment. This team is also responsible for teaching the school how to properly use these bins, and engages students in exciting lessons about gardening and plants which are very well received by their peers.
During COVID lockdowns, Lalor East had implemented Wednesday Wellness sessions to support the wellbeing of students and give them a break from their computers. Following student feedback, the JSC has worked with school leadership to re-establish the practice due to the positive impact that the opportunity had on students, even when learning in person.
These projects demonstrate the flexibility of the Lalor East JSC in acting on the desires of the student body, with a focus on community, inclusion, and wellbeing. While some of these projects may seem small in the grand scale of education and school experience, Lalor East is a great example of working directly from feedback and remaining consistent in their dedication to doing so.
Student Summits and ‘Pulse Checks’
The JSC of Lalor East Primary meets with school leadership every term in a Student Summit to discuss important issues within their school and to collaborate with staff on improving the experience of students. Prior to each Student Summit, the JSC runs sessions with all students at Lalor East to gather a ‘pulse check’ on the feelings and needs of the student base. These ‘pulse checks’ are an opportunity for students to funnel their ideas directly to the JSC, and for the JSC to gather perspectives on issues that are slated for discussion. Some issues that have been discussed in these sessions include the Lalor East PS behaviour matrix, and clubs and programs at the school like those listed above.
Lalor East Primary provide another exceptional example of how student voice can benefit all members of a school community, particularly teachers and students. They have applied student voice practice across a number of different areas and initiatives, highlighting the adaptability of the approach, and the value in empowering students to lead. We are thrilled to see schools like Lalor East Primary continue to set such a shining example of how student voice can be put into to practice to benefit the experiences of everyone.
This case study is drawn from VicSRC's Student Voice Awards, an annual celebration of best practice student voice, amplifying the important contribution of students to Victorian education and acting as a catalyst for change within Victorian schools.