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We often say "our girls' speak for themselves", but according to Louisa Scerri, Director of Learning and Innovation, developing student voice and agency is critical to classroom practice at Ivanhoe Girls'. 

Louisa Scerri, Director of Learning and Innovation

Recently I read the book Student Voice: The Instrument of Change (Quaglia and Corso, 2014) which has arguably unearthed the deep missing piece in effective learning outcomes. The elephant in the room ironically turns out to be student voice. The premise to this claim is that the Three Guiding Principles that support students’ aspirations are often missing in our educational model:


Self-Worth occurs when students know they are uniquely valued members of the School community; have a person in their lives they trust and learn from; and they have the ability to achieve – academically, personally and socially.


Engagement happens when students are deeply involved in their learning process as characterised by enthusiasm, a keen desire to learn new things, and a willingness to take positive, healthy steps towards the future. Students are meaningfully engaged when they are emotionally, intellectually, and behaviourally invested in their learning.


Purpose exists when student take responsibility for who and what they are becoming, this involves not only choosing a career, but also deciding to be involved, responsible members of their community. Purpose is as much about who students want to be as what they want to do.

The research clearly indicates that when schools provide a supportive environment where student voice is encouraged, that students are more likely to develop a confident voice and a capacity to act in the world and a willingness to lead others. Not surprisingly, student engagement also increases when students feel able to exert influence and participate more fully in their learning.  

Developing student voice, agency and leadership is a deliberate intent at Ivanhoe Girls’ Grammar School. Indeed, our aspiration that "Our Girls Speak for Themselves" is at the core of all our programs from co-curricular, to service, to House; and is an instrumental influence on the pedagogy that drives our classroom practice.

In 2021, as part of my role as Director of Learning and Innovation, I was keen to hear what our students thought about their learning: consequently the inaugural Student Learning Forum was introduced. The aim is to reflect on what our students are saying about their learning to inform our practice.

Recently, I had the privilege of working with our Year 12 cohort for an extended tutorial lesson. During this time, they were asked to respond, in groups to a series of questions:

  • What does learning look like?
  • What is the most important influence on your learning?
  • How do you know when you have learnt something?
  • Pick your favourite class and describe what happens in it?
  • What things would improve your learning?
  • What do you dislike doing in class?

It was fascinating to receive such authentic and insightful feedback from our students and to share it with the Curriculum and Learning Team. Over the next term, I will continue to work with all Year Levels to gather their experience of learning at Ivanhoe Girls'. I look forward to sharing some of the findings in a future Newsletter. I hope that by encouraging "Our Girls to Speak for Themselves" about their learning we will continue to promote a culture that truly values student voice, agency and leadership and supports them in their aspirations.

Louisa Scerri
Director of Learning and Innovation


  • Quaglia, R. and Corso, M.  (2014). "Student Voice: The Instrument of Change", SAGE, USA.
  •  Victoria State Government, "Amplify. The Education State", Department of Education and Training (2017).
  • Williams, P (2017). "Student Agency for Powerful Learning", Knowledge Quest, 45(4), pp9-16.