Student Action Teams: Active citizenship
Hackham West Primary School, South Australia
By Tamra Simmons, Teacher
At Hackham West Primary School we have a strong program incorporating student voice. Every child in Years 3–7 is a member of a student action team that works with, or for, the local community. These action teams are a critical component of our socially inclusive practice.
Student Action Teams
During Democracy Week, the student executive team, which is made up of two elected representatives from each action team, produced and published a newsletter entitled ‘democracy@hackhamwest’. This newsletter highlighted our student voice program and the successes it has had within our school and the local community. The student executive decided to distribute the newsletter throughout the community – to families, the community centre and local volunteer groups and businesses.
Student action teams are an effective model of the essential learnings in action, as outlined in the SACSA framework. Through this constructivist learning model, students are able to satisfy the following curriculum outcomes:
- Futures – Students have the opportunity to impact on their community and to realise that they can influence decision making. The model provides them with the skills to gain their preferred futures.
- Identity – As part of an action team, students are given opportunities to develop their acceptance of others and to cultivate relationships with a diversity of people across the community. They develop a sense of self-worth and a sense of belonging to their environment.
- Interdependence – Students develop a sense of connectedness with other people and systems, reflecting on and taking action to shape local communities. They contribute as a member of a team to achieve shared goals.
- Thinking – Students identify problems and develop creative and innovative solutions to make our community a better place. They use enterprising attributes to identify areas for change, growth, innovation or future development.
- Communication – Processing of communication and utilising literacy, numeracy and information communication technology skills to make informed decisions and take successful action.
What were the learning outcomes?
At Hackham West Primary School we value and believe that:
- children’s ideas and beliefs should be valued
- all children have the ability to become leaders in some sense
- children should be actively involved in decision making
- children need to develop the skills involved in becoming active citizens in their community.
The objectives of the Student Voice program at Hackham West include:
- developing in students a sense of self-worth, as well as an awareness of their place in the community
- actively involving students in decision making
- nurturing a sense of community spirit in students
- valuing and respecting students
- developing students’ leadership and team skills.
The learning outcomes for producing the newsletter and sharing it during Democracy Week included the following:
- it allowed students and staff to reflect on the successes of the program
- it highlighted the importance and success of the program to the local community
- it gave the student executive group leadership experience, as they were responsible for the publishing of the newsletter.
Who was involved?
The student executive were the main participants in the production of the newsletter, but the whole primary school is involved in the action team program. Community groups involved include:
- Neighbourhood Watch
- St Basil’s Aged Care Facility
- Hackham West Community Centre
- The Shed
- St John’s
- The Housing Trust.