On Friday 10 February, over 250 ‘new’ Year 12 students came together at Norwood International High School to create the school’s first Year 12 Student Charter – a manifesto of how the school’s most senior students wanted their final year of school to be. 

The aim was to develop a Student Charter that articulates their vision for the year, and how they’ll work together to make that happen. By establishing a set of behaviours and ideals for creating the most positive environment possible for Year 12 students it is hoped, with the support of the school’s teaching and administrative staff, that having the Charter will improve their journey and reduce the stress levels these young people experience.

Developing a Year 12 Charter was one of the recommendations made in the Commissioner’s 2023 High Stakes High School report released in January this year. The Commissioner was there to guide students through the process, documenting their ideas for how they could make Year 12 a great year and discussing what they’d like from themselves, each other, and teachers to make this happen. The day included a mix of individual and group work, and collaborative sharing and voting through the online whiteboard tool Miro.

The process began with students identifying their individual and collective strengths to arrive at a list of traits that defined them as a cohort. This formed the ‘who’ of their Charter. Using this information, they devised a vision statement based on their individual and groups responses to questions which asked them how their ideal experience of Year 12 would feel  – how ‘our community would see us …’ ‘what our experiences would be…’ and what ‘our relationships would be…’  Their responses were voted upon and ranked to become the ‘what’ of the Charter.

The group then built the ‘how’ of the Charter by working groups to develop ideas for how they would value student voice, create a great learning environment, build a welcoming and inclusive culture, and support student health and wellbeing. This included requests of teachers and the school in terms of how they’d like to be consulted, supported, communicated with, as well as how they’d like behaviour management approaches and success to be celebrated. 

The final Charter was read out with each student then ‘signing’ in agreement by writing or drawing onto a long mural style canvas that would be placed on display at the school. The signing of the charter provided an important moment to come together and feel a sense of pride in who they are as a Year 12 community. 

The day proved a great way to reset the tone for the year, giving students space and an opportunity to have a voice in shaping and sharing with others in the school community what is important to them. Having teachers there, listening with care and respect, and demonstrating their desire to work with students to develop the Charter was very validating for the students.

Amanda Walsh,  Deputy Principal of Norwood International High School said: “It was wonderful working with Helen and her team to develop the Year 12 student charter for Norwood International High School. The day was highly engaging and a real lesson in supporting and advocating for student voice and agency. The program allowed each student to actively contribute to the development of the Charter that is uniquely representative of the graduating cohort of 2023.”

“Seeing the way the students worked together to arrive at their Year 12 Student Charter could not have been more rewarding. Seeing just how empowering this day was for the whole group of Year 12 students who participated at Norwood International confirmed the value there is in creating a student-led Year 12 Charter that can help to support them through what we know is a tough and challenging year.” Commissioner Helen Connolly

“You can never underestimate the power of listening to young people. It was an incredible outcome for a group of 250 young people to develop a shared Student Charter, articulating in their own voice their vision of a great Year 12, and how they will work together to make that happen.” Jasmine Wrangles, Engagement & Participation Officer, CCYP.