Parliament hears students will have a say

In this extract from Hansard, Education Minister Sarah Mitchell tells the NSW Legislative Assembly how public school students are being given the chance to influence school policy.

Image: Listening and acting: Education Minister Sarah Mitchell is committed to giving students a voice in their education.

The Hon. WES FANG: I direct a question to the Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning. Will the Minister explain to the House how the Government is helping to shape the future of education in New South Wales?

The Hon. SARAH MITCHELL (Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning): I thank the honourable member for his question. It is very important that young people have a say on matters that impact them. That is why earlier this month, as Minister for Education, I was delighted to announce the first Minister's student council, which will enable students right across this State to have direct input and influence on education and school policy. The Minister's student council will be the peak forum for interaction between New South Wales public schools, the Department of Education and the New South Wales Government. The council will be created from the ground up by students. The first student involvement in the council will be a steering committee tasked with designing the council, its elections and governance, and how it will engage students from all backgrounds right across the State.

Students will decide the exact setup of these meetings, the issues to be discussed and what the Government can do to make our State the best education system in the country. Delegates to form the council will be elected from a range of secondary schools across the State ensuring representation from metro, regional and remote areas. To ensure diversity the council will have Aboriginal representatives, representatives with disability, and students from regional and remote parts of the State. One of the reasons why this council is such a great initiative is that when we talked to our school communities about managing issues during COVID-19 there was good interaction with teachers organisations, principals groups and parents, but what I found was missing was the student voice. When we look at the COVID-19 recovery and where to next, the Government will look at a broad range of matters like infrastructure to reboot the economy. The Government will make sure as part of the COVID-19 recovery that students are at the table in terms of what we have learned and where we can go next. That will be an exciting first initiative that the student council can look at.

We also launched a new online Student Voice Hub earlier this month, which will be used to give all students a platform to share their views and creativity with the wider community. The hub hosts content created by students, for students. Very passionate and creative students in our public schools can publish their work and express themselves. In an Australian first, the hub will be curated by a professional editor based in the department. Students will be able to pitch their ideas and refine their work, which will help to develop their skills. I hope the hub will become recognised worldwide as the benchmark in student voices. We have very talented students with brilliant minds in our schools and I look forward to reading, watching and experiencing what they create for the hub. These platforms are all about giving students greater capacity to provide feedback directly to the Government after their lives were turned upside down in 2020. I believe students are well placed to guide policy and future announcements in New South Wales. I look forward to commencing the planning and design process for the first student voice council. The first event is due to take place in 2021.

  • Student voices
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