From Daniel’s Desk

To The School Community,

As part of my role as principal I attend the Barwon South East Principal Network where I am able to connect with my colleagues, participate in professional learning but most of all have challenging conversations that push my thinking. The concept of “Student Agency” was a strong theme at our last get together and sharing some of my learning with you was an important action that I committed to throughout the day.

Agency has 4 components:

1. Learning should have a purpose: Having a purpose is captured in the way that students set, endorse and pursue goals with their teacher in order to create motivation and agency to learn. Having a clear direction provides meaning while learning and supports the student in understanding what it is that they need to achieve. For the teacher this notion should guide their planning, particularly when differentiating for the students in their care. The staff and students at BHPS are exploring a range of strategies to achieve a sense of purpose. Some examples of this are students having specific learning goals for reading, writing and maths. An example of this is in the year 6 team, who been very responsive to the idea of purpose by articulating to the students areas of improvement that needed to occur based on a thorough pre-assessment of their learning. The students then participated in workshops specific to the areas of need during a series of lessons with significant success in student growth highlighted in post testing phase. This approach isn’t isolated at our school with all teams becoming well versed in how to respond to data collected and developing a sense of purpose with their students.

2. Students should become reflective through learning by doing and in action: This concept relates to students becoming skilled at reflecting on what they are learning and why they are learning a particular concept. Metacognition (one of our Character strengths) needs to rise to the fore when being reflective.  This notion particularly stands out when our students are working with others to achieve their goals and how their plans work/don’t work in the real world and how to adjust plans or strategies if they hit a snag or road block. To support students in being able to step back from what is known, assumed or apparent was a strong message connected to agency. We attempt to use the Character Strengths to encourage students to look beyond the moment and see what the indirect consequences of their actions are. This could relate to effort, behaviour, goal setting, choices, judgments and actions.

3. The students making an investment in pursuing their purpose: Agency requires the student to make an investment of time and effort both intellectually and physically. This is where persistence and the ability to overcome set backs is most important. Making a commitment to achieving a goal or completing a project can be daunting for a student. Our role as educators and yours as a parent is to build the students capability in understanding that the end goal has many parts to piece together which is where effort and investment intellectually and physically needs to develop. I know with my kids at home they often want something to be achieved quickly and many of the conversations e have are about persistence, effort, organisation, learning from others, seeking support to achieve your goals. This can be challenging as a parent or teacher but well worth the investment.

4. Students need to take their own responsibility for their actions: Having a mature sense of agency is relies heavily on responsibility and the ability to recognise that our actions have consequences, positive or negative. To be responsible you also need self-awareness and control. Responsibility is also related to accountability, doing what you agreed and demonstrating ethical behaviour. Part of this is also accepting praise and acknowledging that you have made an error or mistake. Many students do not handle praise, become embarrassed about their success or feel disappointment when things don’t go to plan.

Here is a link to an easy read about student agency

In my next post I will expand on the idea of agency and share with you the different levels of agency and how students learn to acquire agency.

On Friday 9th March we will be holding our next parent seminar.

Title: What it Takes to be an effective Bystander?

Background: This presentation is an insight into the work the school and community is doing to equip the students with a repertoire of skills to proactively manage situations or incidents that may develop into bullying. The Peer Mediators from the year 5/6 classes will be leading the session supported by Kristin Dillon and myself. This session coincides with the “Say No To Bullying” Week campaign and hopes to give you an insight into the plans being made at school to support all children.

Outcome: At the end of the presentation parents will have a clear understanding about Bystanders and what they do to support others in their community as well as how parents can be influential in assisting their children in becoming effective bystanders.

This week is an assembly week so I hope to see you there.


Daniel Vella



Leave a Reply