Anne Coster – Student voice

Wellington Girls' College deputy principal, Anne Coster, describes the school-based inquiry project that she undertook as a participant on the National Aspiring Principals Programme. Her project considered student voice, and her school-wide leadership of professional learning. In leading change, Anne sought to foster a culture of leadership and learning that empowered both students and teachers.



There are really three strands to the project. There was my personal development in learning, research based. There was student development in learning and staff development in learning. I think because we have a culture in which we are all learners and we are interested in what each other has to say - in a sort of non hierarchical sense, in a non hierarchical way - and we reference our practice to research (but also research that’s action based within our own school), then the students have always been part of this.

What you have to be careful of, I think, when you’re leading change, is that you can’t have this idea that you are going to wave a magic wand now, and students have a voice. I want to hear what they have to say, but I haven’t actually set up the preconditions or the culture that makes them feel comfortable in saying what they really think, in front of their teachers. And likewise, with the teachers, you’ve got to create a culture in which everybody feels safe to say what they really think and to challenge assumptions and ideas. That’s how we create a new way of moving forward and that’s how we refine and review our practice.

So we already had, from the student point of view, a student council. We had a number of student leadership groups at Year 13. So you form leadership groups and the leader of each of those leadership groups or committees is on an executive committee. They act as enablers for activities throughout the school. We had a huge range of student led activities where the teacher would be the facilitator or the presence on the sidelines, but the students were actually running things. They were well used to taking the lead and working with other groups of students.

NAPP project

Download Anne's NAPP 2010 project plan on student voice.

Project plan (Word 16 kB)

Download Anne's NAPP 2010 project presentation.

Project presentation (Word 59 kB)

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