This Term, I had the pleasure of hosting our first Principal’s Forum where I extended an invitation to students to join me in the Bernard L Chambers Founders’ Room for an open discussion on a topic of their choosing.
What a delight it was to hear the girls’ views across a range of topics. It was most interesting to see how invested they are in shaping their school, not only for themselves, but for the students who will benefit from their rich discussion and deep reflections.
I was impressed at the quality of the discourse and how passionate the girls are about wider issues such as equality, global citizenship and social justice. It is an honour to have young girls of this calibre at our school.
The forum served two purposes. Firstly, it challenged the girls to think critically, to solve problems and to constructively voice their opinions. Secondly, it was a strategic and systemic way of partnering with our students so we can shape the future of their school side by side, as a whānau.
Gathering student voice is an important part of our decision-making process that, evidently, has a positive effect on student learning, teaching and governance.
The late Professor Jean Rudduck, of Cambridge University’s Faculty of Education, a leading pioneer in student voice, once said, “Pupils have a huge contribution to make, not as passive objects but as active players in the education system. Students can, and should, participate, not only in the construction of their own learning environments, but as research partners in examining questions of learning and anything else that happens in and around schools”.
Woodford House is a girl-centric school, which means the student is at the centre of everything we do. This is their school, so it is imperative our girls do not sit on the side lines of their own education.
We welcome girls to express their views and feedforward at any time, but we also offer more formal channels of communication throughout the year. This year, we have sought student input on the Curriculum Review and Boarding Review through the Student Representative on the Board of Trustees, the Student Council and the Prefect Team.
School improvement starts with meaningful conversations around how we can all work together to co-construct our school and our community. The Principal’s Forum will be held each term and I warmly invite all students to join me in continuing the conversation.
Julie Peterson, Principal