Tag Archives: vicjsc

How will you make the world a better place?

Close friends and long time readers of this blog will know that Student Voice and Student Leadership is a passion of mine.

Most schools have some form of student body; be it a student representative council, student leadership council, a junior school council, a student congress, student voice – the names for these organizations are varied, but ultimately, there is a group that represents student within the school.

But… Why is such a having a student council important ? And what sort of things should we be working on ? I mean, we raise money and stuff, but how can we move to that next level ?

By having a student council within your school, you can draw upon their knowledge which will ultimately lead to better decision making.

At a global level, this is recognised through the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, with Article 12 stating that a child should be given an opportunity to express their viewpoint. That age should not be a barrier in their participation in matters they have a degree of understanding and comprehension over.

But more locally….. Often there are things that students know about the school that teachers and parents just are unaware of. By involving all stakeholders, it ensures that all viewpoints are heard and in turn leads to more informed decision making.

By involving students in how decisions are made, it provides them an understanding and point of reference when wanting to be active citizens beyond the school context. Research also suggests that schools who involve students in decision making, will in turn, have improvements in student learning.

By having a student council, you will improve relationships and connections between staff, students and the broader community

For me though, the reasons behind having a student council are somewhat more personal. I have been involved in student leadership since I was in Grade 5 in 1993. I continued to be involved in student council throughout my time and secondary school and once commencing my teaching career, I quickly took on the role of SRC Teacher Advisor.

Had it not have been for some great teachers who saw student councils as something important; who gave their time freely to support what we were doing; who coached, mentored and guided me through the process,  I would not be the person I am today.

Images from author’s collection.

It is my hope that I can provide the same opportunities for my students. That I can pay forward the experiences and the lessons I have learned.

The road to a Victorian Junior School Council

It is with this in mind that one project I would love to establish would be a  state wide Junior School Council for primary school students.

Within my role with the Victorian Institute of SRC Teacher Advisers Inc. I volunteer as a supporter with the Victorian Student Representative Council. I am excited that they are considering a primary school networking event in 2015 to explore the appetite from schools and the possibility of such an organisation existing.


A colleague and friend of mine recently said that “too often in life we place our own obstacles in the way of our dreams, be it excuses, time, etc…I say to you, no more!  Take that great idea, challenge, relationship, learning that you should do and “just do it”.  The world needs dreamers and doers and the best is the combination of both.” 

I look forward to being part of the team that turns this dream of mine into a reality. I hope to share the journey of this exciting adventure with you through my blog.

Image generated author.

Image generated by author.

This post is the second in a series as part of the #youredustory challenge. For more information visit their website.

A reflection on 2011

Having recovered from the end of school madness, Christmas and the New Year, I have enjoyed the opportunity to sit and rest for a few days and catch up on some blogs in my Google Reader. I’ve really enjoyed reading posts (and posts and posts) from both friends and members of my Personal Learning Network (PLN) about their reflections from the past year and how it has helped them set goals and directions for the coming year. I’ve always been one to set goals and targets for the year, but have never really reflected on my achievements from the year before. So, thanks to some help from my Outlook calendar, the following jumped out at me as achievements throughout 2011:

Photo created by Carol Browne - Used as part of a Creative Commons Licence 2.0

Photo created by Carol Browne. Licenced under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

New School – New Role:

Part of moving to a new school saw me take a new role; that of the ICT Specialist Teacher. This was a big change for me, having been a class teacher since the beginning of my teaching career.  This experience has taught me a lot; particulary about the value of time. As a classroom teacher I had the freedom and flexibility to move and manage time throughout the day depending on the activity and the outcomes I wanted to achieve. As a specialist teacher, I only get to see each class for 1 hour a week, so this simply is not possible. It has taught me to “cut the waffle” when explaining tasks and be much more succinct in communicating information so students can have more “time on task”. It has also required me to develop the student’s skills in becoming self directed learners and to create resources and provide access to materials that allow for this to occur.

I have also loved the learning curve I had been on. Having never taught ICT has required me to research lots, draw upon my own experience and the knowledge of my PLN to develop my program. Highlights would include the cybersafety movie making exercise I attempted in Term 1, seeing students develop their own Scratch projects and finally getting my Prep classes to log on.

Establishing a new student council:

Regular readers of my blog will know that student leadership and student councils are an area of passion for me so it has been really exciting to establish the a student council at a brand new school.

Given we were a new school, it took us until mid Term 2 before things were well and truly up and running.

Highlights of the year included students developed campaign posters in the lead up to the election and using the Victorian Electoral Commission to help run elections. I had used the Electoral Commission at my previous schools and was excited to be able introduce the students and staff to the experience with many commenting on the professional nature of the election.

2011 was also the first year I worked with students outside of Grade 5 & 6 on a student council. I really enjoyed having younger students on board and to provide an alternative perspective and to offer their support. The majority of them were keen to take on jobs and roles and with a little bit of coaching and support demonstrated they are capable of achieving great results.

Towards the end of the 2011, we also held our 2012 elections, enabling our student council to be operating from day 1 of 2012.

Online Assemblies:

Through my work as a Web Conference Leader in 2010, I trained students in my class in the use of the web conferencing software, Blackboard Collaborate (previously known as Elluminate) so we could run an online school assembly.

I have been able to continue this at my new school in 2011 and have again trained some students to help in the running of the assembly. This has now become embedded in the culture of our school, with an online assembly operating each fortnight. It’s been great to see teachers and students exposed to this technology and to also have members of our school community that would otherwise be unable to attend school events log in from home, work or wherever they might be.


Having lead the introduction the Ultranet at my previous school, it was great to be able to apply my learning from previous mistakes made when we went about setting things up and going about student registrations.  By the end of 2011 we successfully registered all of our Grade 1-6 students (being aprox. 300 students).

Another great advantage of starting at a new school has been the ability to use the Ultranet in establishing processes and procedures. Rather than make the transition from one process to another, it has been far easier in using the Ultranet from the beginning. Through the community space I developed, staff have been able to add school events as well as book rooms and resources using the calendars and post meeting minutes using a blog. I consider this to be a great achievement in our first year.

One of  greatest challenges we faced being a new school was the flow of our data from CASES21. I was hoping to do a great deal more with students and the Ultranet earlier in the year, however numerous technical difficulties set us back and meant that we truly didn’t get to it until mid Term 3. Having said that, I have been really excited about the use of Learning Tasks and hope that I will able to build upon this next year.

Acting Assistant Principal:

OK, so maybe it was just for two days, but it was an experience I really enjoyed and one I hope to get the opportunity to do again. The experience gave me insight into the bigger picture of our school and understand why sometimes they just don’t get to your issues when they do. It was amazing the number of issues and tasks I was required to do in two days.

Presenting at the Innovations Showcase:

After a gentle nudge from a few people in my PLN, I submitted an application to present at the 2011 Innovation Showcase run by the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. My presentation focused on the work I had done with student councils at my previous school and sharing some of the valuable resources out there to support SRC Teacher Advisers.

Increasing Network:

Moving school has also seen me become involved the ICT Network that exists within our local cluster of schools. Again this has been a great source of knowledge from those in the know. I have taken on board many ideas and suggestions from this group in regards to my teaching and have also loved to opportunity to share my own experiences and knowledge.

Twitter once again has proved to be invaluable in providing professional knowledge. I was please to learn about the experiences of those who attended to Google Teacher Acadamy in Sydney at their Meet Up session and finally put some faces to twitter names. The Melbourne #TeachMeet session towards the start of Term 3 was another great opportunity to meet members of my PLN and share and learn from others.

Ultranet Share N Tell:

I feel really privileged and proud to work alongside Anne Mirtschin and Mel Cashen in delivering these online sessions. It’s great to always see and hear what others are doing with Ultranet to spark your own ideas. Wendy Macpherson and Graeme Henchel from the Ultranet team at Central office have been invaluable in offering their insight into updates and developments taking place and have always been willing to hear suggestions and ideas from those using the Ultranet within their schools and classrooms. With the loss of our Ultranet Coaches in 2012, I can only expect that the demand for these session will increase (and see the UltraTweeps Teacher’s Games team increase and take out the gold medal in Laser Tag!)


The Victorian Institute of SRC Teacher Advisors has continued to move along and has been involved in some interesting projects throughout the year. A major highlight was initiating a discussion around the establishment of a state based Junior School Council for primary school students. Whilst this had been something many of us in the field had been thinking about, it was great to get some of the key stakeholders together and get some ideas down on paper. Other highlights include working with Joel Arrons to develop the VISTA Podcast, the presentation of the inaugural VISTA Award for outstanding SRC Teacher Advisor at the VicSRC annual Congress and being involved in providing teacher professional development sessions at the Junior School Council congress sessions across the state.

Personally, I also achieved many things throughout 2011. Having worked in the education system for over 7 years now, I was able to access my Long Service Leave pro-rata and used this across the Melbourne Cup Weekend to attend a close friends wedding in Sydney. Melbourne Cup weekend in previous years has involved me chained to my computer for 3 days writing end-of-year reports. Taking leave made me realise that through some strategic organisation (and a last minute marathon effort!) it was possible to take some time off and still get my reports done.

Another major development has been selling my house. Having lived in my local area for just under thirty years of my life and with most of my friends and family now living on the western side of the state or closer to the city, I felt it was time to move on. We’re hoping to find a nice townhouse or apartment closer to Melbourne and enjoy the benefits associated with inner-city living. With settlement taking place in just a few more days, we’ve been fortunate in finding a place to stay in the meantime whilst we continue what seems like a never ending search for the right place to live.

So, with 2011 well and truly completed, it’s time to focus on 2012 and the year ahead. I have numerous thoughts and ideas swimming around in my head about what I hope to achieve both professionally and personally throughout the year and hope to post some of them with you soon.

What were your achievements throughout 2011 ?

What goals do you have for 2012 ? What are you looking forward to ?

The journey towards a VicJSC

Imagine a group of primary school students spread throughout Victoria working together to implement major projects, to provide feedback to organisations about policy and other new initiatives being implemented whilst learning about citizenship and decision making. Sounds impressive. At present though, all we can do is imagine, because such an opportunity for primary school students does not exist.

Since 2001, secondary students have had Victorian Student Representative Council to speak and act on behalf of secondary students in schools throughout Victoria. Each year, the VicSRC holds Congress where students are able to put forward motions that are voted upon and then implemented by a student executive throughout the following year.

The primary equivalent to the VicSRC Congress would be FRENZY, which Second Strike has facilitated since 2008. Like the VicSRC Congress, a key feature of FRENZY is a Congress sitting. Students who attended are placed into discussion groups where they form motions to be tabled before the Congress. Motions are then moved in the Congress, debated and put before a formal vote. At each Congress, primary school students have moved and passed a motion for the creation of a state student representative group. However, without a student executive or organisation to lobby for action, many of these motions have failed to come to fruition.

VISTA has a number of primary school SRC teachers as members and they too have been asking about an equivalent organisation for primary students.

The VISTA executive is therefore leading the charge in establishing a VicJSC (Victorian Junior School Council)


Whilst ideas are still very much under development, the initial proposal would see membership open to government, private and catholic primary schools from across Victoria. Students would utilise online tools such as web 2.0 sites and online conferencing to connect with other students and implement the recommendations put forward at a state based congress. The use of online tools would eliminate the need for travel and would enable students in regional and remote locations the opportunity to participate.

The creation of a VicJSC would provide primary school students with a united voice. It would harness the collective power and enthusiasm of primary school students and provide them with an opportunity to focus on specific issues and activities.

A VicJSC network would also allow other students from across the state to learn about the workings of other student councils and improve the operations and workings of their own student council at their school. It would provide the education system and other organisations with a reference group to consult with when making major decisions and in turn, provide primary school students with the opportunity to understand, practice and experience democracy in a real-life context.

It’s time that the voice of our young people was heard, but more importantly, it’s time for them to be given an opportunity to turn their ideas into action.

How can you get involved ?

  • Add your school contact details to the form below and we’ll keep you posted with any updates.
  • Become a member of the VISTA Ning Network and we’ll keep you posted.
  • Record a video of your primary school students telling others about why they think a VicJSC should be established. Let us know about your video
  • Post a comment to this post