Empowering student voice with whole school feedback

Steph Wood

August 2020

Marryatville High School is one of Australia’s most innovative government high schools, located in Adelaide, South Australia. With just over 1400 students, Marryatville understands the challenge of supporting a large cohort of students while also ensuring each student feels a valued part of the school community. 

As a part of their school strategy, the Marryatville leadership team emphasises the importance of student input into school life, incorporating Student Voice into their school plan. A key part of this is the Student Representative Council (SRC), who amplify the voice of students in structured, engaging ways. 

“The Student Representative Council (SRC) ensures that student voice is an important component of our decision-making” says Principal John Tiver.

Marryatville sought a school-wide method of gathering student input 

With such a large student body, Marryatville needed to find an efficient method of gathering student input across multiple areas of the school. One area in which students were interested in providing input was the curriculum, exploring ways for teachers to reflect on their work and refine the learning process or class environment to suit the needs of all learners. 

For teachers, understanding where each student is in their learning journey was a key objective, and a tool that harnessed this information would provide a valuable opportunity for formative assessment.

At the recommendation of The Learning Improvement Division at the Department of Education, the Marryatville leadership team implemented Ziplet. It would give them the opportunity to capture student input to inform teaching and learning, while enhancing student voice throughout the school. Students who don't always speak up would have a system that allowed their voices to be heard and feel valued in their learning environment.

"Student voice is important because it provides us with the anonymous power to voice our concerns and implement change that has a definitive impact on our education and the structure of our learning"
– Student Representative Council Member

The Marryatville leadership team quickly involved students from the outset, engaging the SRC to co-develop questions and shape how the technology is used. Doing so empowered students to feel that they have input and agency in their school journey. 

As Tom* from the SRC explained, “The questions are answered by students, so it is important to have student input so that the questions are directed towards the needs of the students”.  

The questions centre around three main areas, tied to the school plan: 

  1. the Learning Environment, 
  2. Student Voice, and 
  3. Check in and Act - providing immediate support where required

Faculty were quick to self-onboard and start gathering feedback

The school quickly set up the staff with Ziplet. The entire teaching staff self-onboarded quickly. Teacher Emma noted that “Lots of senior teachers were able to set it up and use it without any problems at all (that’s rare!) and the younger teachers have adopted it really quickly.”

Staff are able to know the impact of their teaching within seconds. This makes formative assessment quick and easy, and integrates into the learning process. Additionally, students feel a part of the learning process, engaging in how things are done or can be improved.

Marryatville has demonstrated their commitment to student voice, evident in the data: 

  • In the first 6 months, Marryatville has captured more than 12,000 student responses. 
  • 94% of their staff are using Ziplet, and 88% of students are actively contributing to their learning environment.  
  • Over 38% of responses have been gathered anonymously, feedback which may have gone unsaid in traditional settings. 

Teachers now have access to fast student feedback in their classroom, and the leadership team have anonymised aggregated faculty group and school data. Having this information allows the teams to look for trends of improvement, and areas for reflection and adjustment.

"This has been part of how we as a school want to empower students in their learning.  Make learning authentic to them.  We only know what authentic means when we hear from the students."
– Lyndon Parry, Director of Teaching and Learning

Marryatville’s use of Ziplet provides a model for other schools looking to amplify student voice

  • Help students understand the ‘why’ of introducing a new platform such as Ziplet. What the outcomes for the school are, and how Ziplet can assist in achieving these. 
  • Involve the SRC to drive student thinking around the ‘why’.  Having the SRC talk to students gives students likeminded understanding, and therefore authentic responses.
  • Staff will adopt a new tool faster if colleagues use it and explain its value. The team members who used Ziplet initially were key in authentically sharing value to the rest of the faculty, and the resulting swift uptake. 
  • Professional Learning: Once staff are using the platform, engage in professional learning in areas that have been flagged as needing development. Staff can demonstrate their use of Ziplet as a part of their Professional Development Plan (PDP) to inform practice and demonstrate improvement in student learning outcomes.

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