Student Voice exploratory study

The Disability Strategy team completed the 2019-21 trail of the My Say My Way project to develop accessible ways for students with moderate to high support needs to provide feedback on their learning and experiences at school.

The department worked with 24 schools to develop and trial three accessible methods of capturing feedback from students with moderate and high support needs about their education. 

  • Photovoice 
  • Body mapping 
  • Three  accessible online surveys catering to different support needs. 

The trial was done in partnership with the University of New South Wales. Students were asked what they liked about school, how and what they learned, their relationships with staff and other students,  life after school and more. 

The 2019-21 trial

My Say My Way provided insights into the educational experiences of students with moderate and high support needs. The tools developed for this trial address a gap in NSW, Australia, and world-wide in ways to enable students with moderate and high support needs to have a voice about their education. 

The trial provided new insights about the views and opinions of students with moderate and high support needs on their education and what they would like to see in their schools.

Data gathered during the trial showed students  with  moderate and high support needs liked their school, enjoyed learning new things and felt included socially at school.  

Schools involved gave feedback that it was the first time they were hearing such detailed responses from some students.  

Supporting inclusion in schools 

Giving students a voice is an important part of student agency and self-determination,  one of six principles highlighted in the department’s Inclusive Education Statement for students with disability  as essential in embedding inclusive practice in schools. 

My Say My Way supports our Disability Strategy  commitment to “improve measures and track outcomes around all students’ learning growth, wellbeing (physical, emotional and mental) and independence” by creating a new way for staff to measure student wellbeing at school. 

The  department is committed to supporting teachers and school leaders to develop individualised learning goals that set high aspirations for students and allow for ongoing review. Educators are supported to achieve this through resources including the department’s: 

Feedback Methods

Three feedback methods were developed and trialled as ways to hear from students with moderate to high support needs as part of My Say My Way.


Photovoice involves photographing aspects of a student’s environment and experiences to share with others.

Watch students and staff at Chalmers Road School and St George School demonstrate the photo voice method

Body mapping 

Body mapping is an activity where students are guided through the process of making a life-size outline of themselves which they fill with images, symbols and words representing their experiences. 

 Watch students and staff at Chalmers Road School and St George School demonstrate the body mapping method

Accessible online survey 

Students completed one of three versions of an accessible online survey, each adapted to a different level of support need. 

Next steps 

The department is now delivering the next phase of this project, with greater alignment to the Plan for Public Education.

The Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation (CESE) is leading the next phase of this exciting work. This includes exploring:

  • A wider application for all students with complex learning needs.
  • Providing a digital platform so all schools can access the tools.
  • Integration of the tools with assistive technology

This next phase will provide an opportunity to ensure we meet the needs of all students in an equitable education system. More information can be found here.

Find out more about other ways we are building the evidence base for students with disability through research.


  • Diversity and inclusion

Business Unit:

  • Teaching, Learning and Student Wellbeing
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