Student Congress to Build Leadership in the South West

In what has been hailed a great success, students from all 28 schools in the Warrnambool and Moyne regions came together on 27 February for a student leaders’ congress that aims to build leadership skills and drive community projects.

woolsthorpe2Building on the concept of “What does it mean to be a leader in my community?” the congress was a vehicle to build the capacity of student leaders within local schools, and ultimately, see students develop into leaders within their broader communities. Working in teams on a project of their choice, students will benefit from the building and fostering of localised partnerships between schools, business and other educational services.

In the on-going, project based learning structure of this initiative,  student leaders from years 5-8 will be supported by their teachers and Deakin University School of Education student teachers as they develop projects to implement in their communities.

woolsthorpeThe Warrnambool Network of Government Schools is leading the project in partnership with Deakin University, local schools, South West LLEN, Moyne and Warrnambool City Councils.

Organiser and Woolsthorpe Primary School principal Simon Perry said he believed the localised event was unique in Victoria and possibly Australia in bringing together a cross sector partnership between schools, councils, university, business and industry.

“Through project based learning, we aim to build the capacity of student leaders within our local schools to become leaders in their communities,” Ms Perry said.

“It will also foster and build localised partnerships between schools, business and other educational services,” he added.

The students will host their own student leaders’ workshops and events and implement real-life projects at their schools. They will work in teams and be able to choose projects to implement in their communities.

“The work is driven by students and schools based on their needs and the projects are linked to curriculum,” Mr Perry said.

 A session with international leadership speaker Simon Breakspear, a learning innovator, researcher and strategist and founders of LearnLabs,  coincided IMG_4408with the congress. Simon  inspired students and teachers and set the challenge for students to go out and make a difference in their communities, solve problems and develop connections with their community.

Deakin University Warrnambool Campus lecturer in education, Terri Redpath, said the congress not only gave school students leadership skills but also gave Deakin graduates an exciting opportunity to collaborate professionally in the community.

“Our course values partnership opportunities as they are rewarding and enhance skills that make our students job ready,” Ms Redpath said.

The 2015 projects will be celebrated in July with an event at the Lighthouse Theatre in Warnambool where students will present their two minute film (documentary) about their project outcomes, the difference they made and the learning process along the way. Bush Voices will provide a summary article of what the various student leadership groups achieved in August.