Arthurs Creek Primary School, Vic: Establishing an Effective Junior School Council

By Carol Cardile, Principal

In recent years the election of Junior School Council (JSC) members has become a relatively predictable process, with more popular students being assured of election by their peers, regardless of their level of commitment. Discussions at student classroom meetings and with staff have indicated the need to reform our JSC election process.

We decided to tackle this issue during Celebrating Democracy Week so that our new processes could be implemented at the commencement of 2005. Following so closely on the Federal Election, students were motivated to review this democratic process.

Sitting State Member of Yan Yean, Danielle Greene, was invited to the school to share her personal experience of parliamentary elections. She took the students on a fascinating journey from involvement at local community groups, through membership of a political party, to pre-selection and finally election to the Victorian Parliament. She talked about the Youth Parliament and urged the students to become involved in Junior School Council. She answered a number of challenging and probing questions from the students, who demonstrated a sound understanding and keen interest in current affairs and the parliamentary process.

In the following days, the students set in motion a cycle aimed at producing a JSC process that met their needs, and challenged and motivated students to be involved.

At times we were assisted by our Innovation and Excellence Cluster Coordinator, Max Moergerlein, as we studied the current situation and worked our way through a series of workshops using Quality tools, to evolve a workable model.

The new process has been flowcharted and is ready for implementation in 2005. Flowchart available above right, pdf format.

The funding is to be used to provide display and storage materials, councillor sashes to be worn during meetings, and leadership training for students early in 2005.

Student learning outcomes

Students investigated:

  • what it means to be an active member of a school group
  • the rights and responsibilities of individuals and groups in Australia
  • how laws are made and changed.

The students also developed their understandings of the electoral process. They learned that:

  • everyone's views are important
  • any one in a democratic society has a right to speak and to be heard
  • any Australian citizen can aspire to be a Member of Parliament
  • with rights come responsibilities
  • active citizenship is more valuable that passive observation.

Year levels and number of students involved

Prep-6, 45 students

Teacher involvement

Carol Cardile - Principal/Teacher
Jenni Collins - Teacher
Lyn Morris - Teacher
Max Moegerlein - Innovation and Excellence Cluster Coordinator