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Case study: Rosanna Primary School

Rosanna Primary School were a 2022 Student Voice School of the Year finalist with their student led deep learning protocols, developed in partnership between students and teachers.

School size: ~330 students

School type: government primary school

School location: Northern Metropolitan Melbourne

Student led Prep to grade 2 Deep Learning Protocols

In 2018, the Rosanna Primary School (RPS) Junior School Council (JSC) worked with teachers and students across the whole school to discover students’ understandings of what effective learning is. The development of the Deep Learning Protocols was a chance for students to be involved in establishing agreed language that would be used to drive student-led learning in classrooms. Since the JSC implemented the protocols into classrooms in 2019, they have created space for everyone’s voices to continuously rework and reshape them.

In 2022, the JSC have been working with the junior students to make the protocols Prep-2 friendly. They were consulted about which protocols could be adapted to suit P-2 students and made the decision that the Protocols needed to be revised in junior student-friendly language and have easy to understand visuals. The JSC advised which time of the year each protocol could be introduced on a termly basis.

This advice led Prep teachers to explore in the Prep grades what student voice is. The Preps worked in groups to unpack what it looks like, sounds like, feels like to be a deep learner. These student ideas were collected and bundled into central themes and gave descriptions of what Prep students believe deep learning looks like for each protocol. The goal was for this cohort of Prep students to be the experts and teach the following year’s Preps about effective deep learning.

Prep students advised which visuals would best support each protocol and make each easy to use and understand. The JSC team met with the Preps (who are now grade 1s) and together, they collectively finalised the protocols and offered suggested changes. The Grade 1s, who were involved in this process since last year, with support of the JSC, have planned workshops to deliver in the current Prep grades to further explore the revised P-2 protocols. They have supported the Prep teachers with how to introduce the first protocol, to get a head start on developing the Preps’ understanding of what it means to be an effective deep learner.

A positive impact the JSC have seen already is that the Prep teachers have already started using these student-created protocols during Inquiry and Development Play sessions, with Prep students setting their own learning goals based on these protocols.

Having a say in the way they learn empowers students to be the best learners they can be. Being heard makes them feel valued and want to achieve their full potential. It’s not just the JSC students who feel empowered. Through the reshaping of the P-2 Deep Learning Protocols, the junior students are seen as ‘experts’ with so much knowledge to offer. This helps them to understand the importance and impact of student voice. Having all teachers on board with this shows that student voices will continue to be heard as the years go on, regardless of who is part of the JSC group. This commitment to student voice-led action helps all students to feel confident to advocate for themselves and others.

Dedication to student voice

What started as a simple idea in a JSC Meeting where the JSC recognised the need to celebrate student voice and deep learning across the whole school, became the Rosanna Voice Newsletter. The JSC thought it was important to find ways to reconnect with each other and their learning, now that students were back in the classroom and finally face to face again after remote learning. This idea built upon the JSC’s previous Student Voice Awards that celebrated individual students and student voice achievements. They felt that a monthly newsletter written by students, for students, was an empowering platform to inspire students and teachers, as well as to harness student voice and agency through leading by example.

The Rosanna Voice has had a positive impact in multiple ways. It has really put a spotlight on student voice in the context of learning and shows the whole school community the ways students have a say in what and how they learn. There are hard copies at the office and copies are distributed to classrooms and posted online for families to read, which is a great conversation starter about the importance of student agency. It also helps connect families to what student agency looks like.

The Rosanna Voice is also an outlet for students to pursue a passion for writing, journalism, and reporting… but reporting on the things that are important to students!

Teachers have also been inspired by reading about what is happening in other classrooms and we’re now seeing a more consistent approach to student-led learning across the school.

This year the JSC organised and hosted an official Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the opening of the Bike Shelter; something that was 5 years in the making! It all started when they were in Grade 2 and following an annual Hot Cross Bun Drive fundraiser, the then JSC peers surveyed each class asking what students wanted the money to be put towards to improve the school. Majority of students wanted a cover for the bike area. They did some research and found that they needed some more money to make it happen, so the 2019 Hot Cross Bun Drive went bigger and better! They did letter box drops to neighbours and encouraged members from the community to purchase, which they did. They finally had enough money to get the bike shed cover happening. The JSC asked parents of students to come down to the school to see how they could help get this cover installed. Despite COVID delaying the process, they persevered and had another 2 more Hot Cross Bun Drives, adding more money to the total. The JSC surveyed students again, and there was still a resounding ‘yes!’ to the bike shelter. 3 years later, these students are now part of the JSC who were able to officially open the bike shelter and continue the RPS legacy of turning student voice into action.

The opening of the bike shelter has had a positive impact on the whole school community. Whilst seemingly insignificant to some, the bike shelter is symbolic of the hard work, commitment, and dedication to student voice of the Junior School Council members over the past 5 years. It is a tangible symbol of student agency and a reminder that a simple idea can be recognised, heard, taken seriously, and put into action. After the JSC submitted for approval and presented to School Council, they were so impressed with their continual fundraising efforts that they made a small donation to the bike shelter.

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.

Learn more about the awards.