Students as partners in cyclic continuous curriculum development
The 2007 revision of the New Zealand school curriculum (NZC) requires individual schools to design curriculum to reflect the needs of their local communities through consultation with their communities. For most schools ‘consultation’ has meant keeping parents informed of developments the school has decided. However, Southbridge School has adopted a more proactive and courageous approach inviting parental and student input at each step of the curriculum design process. Regular conversations about learning have enabled parents, students and teachers to work as partners to shape the evolving curriculum. Such conversations closely mirror the action research cycles of plan, act, develop and reflect to show parents and students that their contributions matter. This paper addresses one aspect of this partnership, the students’ contributions referred to as student voice and participation in the literature. The paper will highlight the value of student voice, the strategies adopted by Southbridge School to seek student voice and suggest future possibilities. Data for the paper are drawn from two student engagement surveys, focus group interviews with students and observations of student participation in curriculum development meetings. This paper is an account of how the school has developed its local curriculum, (named the 2020Vision project), to attract and sustain student voice in its development. Attention to the student voice is believed to be critical if schools are to equip students with the knowledge, competencies and values needed for citizenship in the twenty-first century.