Student Voice to Student Agency with Stephanie Thompson

Student Agency in Action with Stephanie Thompson

In Episode 23: we explore how to move from Student Voice to Student Agency – so that students lead on the issues that matter to them.


Show Guest – Stephanie Thompson

Stephanie is the Principal of Beach Haven Primary School in Auckland, New Zealand.

Both Stephanie and her teaching team are passionate about supporting student voice.

They take it much further however, supporting and encouraging student agency.

In this school, it’s about action – with students taking the lead to run key initiatives within the school and community.

Episode Summary

Student voice is often spoken of within education circles. Often though it’s voice with limitations or prescriptions, with adults ultimately making the decisions or limiting the amount of influence that students actually have.

In this episode, we take a different route. We examine how one school in New Zealand moved from student voice to student agency.

Here Maori students (for example) play an active and influential role in the life of the school. They lead training workshops with parents and carers, as well as general community consultations. They also participate as Student Ambassadors on interview panels for new teaching staff.

We’ve also got the Lightning Round. Here Steph and I are challenged to Push The Edge on education issues in a quick and speedy manner. It’s another inspiring and challenging episode of Pushing The Edge with Greg Curran.

We underestimate what students can do - Student Agency in Action

Episode Run-Down

  • How Stephanie pushes the edge in education (2:07)
  • Tapping into our students’ experiences of school (3:14)
  • Is what we’re doing making a difference? (4:15)
  • How do we get community involved? (5:08)
  • Bringing in the Maori community through student voice and action (6:16)
  • How the Maori students coached the parents: helping us with our homework (7:13)
  • How to encourage authentic student voice and student agency (8:51)
  • How to show parents we’re fair dinkum about innovation (11:24)
  • Stepping back as teachers (12:51)
  • Collecting student voice about writing (13:48)
  • Actually listening to students’ views: writing about motorbikes (16:01)
  • Using student interests like soccer and football to drive our teaching (16:44)
  • A powerful question: Who’s responsible for your learning? (18:44)
  • Students contributing to, and participating in, teacher interview panels (19:36)
  • Working with challenging behaviours and not giving up on students (21:45)
  • The Lightning Round – Engagement, hard questions, community, stepping back, coaching, voice, and potential (27:02)

Stephanie’s Reflections on this Episode

  • Read Steph’s blog-post on preparing for this episode, participating and then listening afterward. It’s a top read.

Episode Links

Making Learning come alive - Engagement and Student Agency

Student Agency in Action – Related Pushing The Edge Episodes

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