The purpose of this page is to give an overview of the role of schools in promoting student voice, agency and leadership, and to outline where relevant guidance and programs can be found.
Student voice, agency and leadership have a central role in improving student outcomes and supporting student safety and wellbeing. Schools are encouraged to implement measures which support student participation and collaboration to empower student voice, agency and leadership.
Outlined below are the guidelines and resources the department offers to support schools.
Student voice practice guide (Amplify)
Amplify is a practice guide for school leaders and teachers that explains how to create a learning environment conducive to student voice, agency and leadership. Amplify presents an evidence base and practical school-based examples to help school communities explore and enhance their understanding of student voice, agency and leadership as the key elements which empower students.
Framework for Improving Student Outcomes (FISO 2.0)
The Framework for Improving Student Outcomes (FISO 2.0) recognises student engagement as one of 5 core elements that reflect the evidence of what makes the most difference to student learning and wellbeing.
Victorian teaching and learning model
The Victorian teaching and learning model includes the following elements with an explicit focus on student voice, agency and leadership:
- the pedagogical model affirms student voice, agency and leadership as key to effective teaching practice
- Practice Principle 3: Student voice, agency and leadership empower students and build school pride
- high impact teaching strategies (HITS).
Child Safe Standards
The Child Safe Standards (the Standards) are compulsory minimum standards for all Victorian schools to ensure they are well prepared to keep children and young people safe and protect them from abuse.
The Standards include requirements to keep children, young people and students safe, including involvement of students in child safety.
Child Safe Standard 3 requires schools to ensure children and young people are empowered about their rights, participate in decisions affecting them and are taken seriously. This standard supports schools to create a culture that values and promotes student participation. This includes:
- informing students about their rights and responsibilities in an age-appropriate way
- recognising the importance of friendships and peer support
- enabling students to actively participate in creating a culture that is safe for them and their peers.
Child Safe Standard 7 focuses on ensuring that schools have complaints processes that are child-focused, culturally safe and accessible to everyone. Schools must have policies, procedures and practices to:
- have a complaints handling process focused on students and their safety needs
- take complaints and concerns seriously
- respond promptly and thoroughly.
Mature minor students
The law recognises that as children become older and more mature, they are more capable of making their own decisions about a wide range of issues including decisions about their education. The department’s policy on decision making by mature minor students supports schools with guidance on when and how to assess a student as being a mature minor for the purpose of making their own decision about a particular issue, without the involvement of their parents or carers.
Student members of school council
To support the inclusion of student voice in decision making, school councils at all Victorian government schools with a Year 7 cohort and above are required to include a mandated student member category (unless that school has a student category exemption). These members are elected by all students enrolled in Year 7 or above at the school.
Student members of school council have the same role and responsibilities as other council members including full voting rights.
Student Attitudes to School Survey
The department coordinates the Student Attitudes to School Survey which is conducted annually in term 2. All students in years 4 to 12 are invited to participate. The survey asks students about their thoughts and feeling in relation to their school, family, friends, health, and wellbeing (including bullying). Student answers are anonymous and are used by the department to help improve student outcomes, safety and wellbeing in schools.
Bully Stoppers: survey tool
The Bully Stoppers survey tool contains a range of survey templates that can be used by schools to gain an insight into the experience and opinions of students and other members of the school community about safety and wellbeing, including bullying.
Complaints and concerns
The department’s Parent Complaint Policy includes complaints raised by students who are mature minors:
The School Policy Templates Portal has a template Complaints Policy available for schools to download. The template policy includes sample content relating to both parent and student concerns and complaints:
Students may also report racism or religious discrimination in schools through the report racism hotline or email:
Student voice is not simply about giving students the opportunity to communicate ideas and opinions – it is about students having the power to influence change. Authentic student voice provides opportunities for students to collaborate and make decisions with adults around what and how they learn and how their learning is assessed.
Student agency refers to the level of autonomy and power that a student experiences in the learning environment. Agency gives students the power to direct and take responsibility for their learning, creating independent and self-regulating learners.
Student leadership includes listening to and being able to clarify the issues of the students they represent and advocating on their behalf. Student leaders have an increased sense of responsibility to help others and to model leadership principles and values. Student leadership is not confined to a small group of individuals, as leadership potential is inherent within all learners. Trust, autonomy and relationships are enhanced through the development of leadership qualities.
Reviewed 21 June 2023