16. Students – roles and responsibilities
Role and responsibilities of students in school review
Students play an essential role in their school’s improvement journey and are an integral component of the review. The review captures their importance through 4 touch-points. They have unique perspectives on learning, teaching and schooling, and through the school review process, actively contribute to the school’s improvement agenda. When student views, concerns and ideas are included in the decision-making processes they are more likely to feel they are significant contributors to school improvement.
Authentic adult-student partnerships build school and community cultures that value collaborative practice. These connections build a strong sense of belonging and significance for every student and successfully engage learners in mutually beneficial ways. Exploring the level and impact of student voice, agency and leadership as an authentic role in the review process is therefore critical to achieving shared experience for all participants.
Developing a culture that embraces adult-student partnerships involves a whole school community approach. School principals play a key role in promoting and embedding this collaborative culture. Student voice and participation ‘are threaded through the daily interactions and communications of school life and reflect a coherent and widely particular supported set of values and principles’xxiii
It is anticipated that individual students, the school council student representatives in secondary schools, student voice teams and/or student representative bodies will take part in the review process by sharing views, experiences and insights about their school to influence change.
A clear link should be established between the school’s approach to student voice and the School Improvement Team (SIT). The SIT can support this process with, and for, their students by identifying where the school sees itself against the Framework for Improving Student Outcomes (FISO) Continua of Practice: empowering students and building school pride and structure student involvement accordingly.
The level and type of student involvement, at each of the 4 school review touch-points, is likely to vary across primary, secondary and specialist school settings. These considerations may lead to the implementation of capacity building activities for school staff and students to ensure the best possible outcomes are embraced.
School review participants
School review is characterised by collaboration. Every participant has a distinctive role and important responsibilities to fulfil.
A constructive and transparent school review:
- welcomes ideas from all school community members
- listens to and reflects on varying opinions
- relies on inclusive engagement and accountability.
Core School Review Panel members
Students are recognised as important contributors to the School Review Panel. School community members provide input at designated touchpoints and include:
- the SIT
- other community members
Details about other panel members’ roles and responsibilities are in the following sections of the guidelines:
The following tasks outline a range of opportunities for individual students, members of a student voice team or a representative group:
- Actively take part in sharing experience and insights associated with student voice, agency and leadership
- Take part in the school’s pre-review self-evaluation (PRSE) activities as determined
Tasks for during the review
- Actively participate in identified parts of the Validation Day
- Take part in focus groups focusing on student voice, agency and leadership
Fieldwork and Panel time
- Take part in fieldwork as determined in the methodology (the nature and extent will be determined by length and focus of review and the confidentiality and appropriateness of the fieldwork activity)
- Contribute to the collaborative development of goals, targets and key improvement strategies (KIS) for the next School Strategic Plan through the review
- Complete the post-review survey
- Contribute to the development of the School Strategic Plan, appropriate to level of experience and involvement in student voice, agency and leadership
Good review practice
Good review practice for students is demonstrated when:
- the school implements formal and informal processes for staff and students to collaborate on school planning and improvement
- the SIT is actively involved in planning with, and for, students throughout the review process
- students and adults appreciate and understand the importance of shared decision-making
- students have a real sense of belonging and significance and feel empowered to influence change
- teachers understand the significance of student voice and apply this knowledge to their teaching practices
- teacher conversations with students build a sense of trust and mutual respect
- teachers ensure that some student voices are not inhibited by other dominating voices
- students can generate meaningful discussions on behalf of those students whose voices are less likely to be heard, who are disengaged or who lack the skills and confidence to express views and opinions
- student focus groups are representative of the school’s diversity to capture broad views and experiences.
Reviewed 20 February 2023