We Need You: The Forum


taken from Ahaslides

Dimitri N (Year 11)

Last Term, at lunchtime on Thursday the 30th of March the College Captains and Student Representative Council held the very first ‘Forum’ a meeting designed to promote student voice and allow students from all different year groups to express their opinions on a variety of important school topics. And as one of the few people who attended the Forum, I can say that the process and idea were great. However, as I just mentioned, I was one of the few attendees that took the opportunity to share their opinion and without a variety of student voices, The Forum won’t be able to run with its intended fervour. 

But what is intended? What exactly did this first Forum do? From what I know the whole goal of the Forum is to ensure that all students have input in student voice and important school decisions. The Forum provides students without a formal leadership position to still have some say in important topics involving the school.  

 This Forum focussed on Assessments tackling a range of assessment-related problems. When asked whether “changing the name of assessments to culminating tasks was a helpful change”, to which there was a unanimous verdict stating that it was not helpful and that the change in name may present miscommunications among students (who refer to it as assessments anyway). The next question addressed by the forum was whether culminating tasks were better take-home or in-class. It was decided that the answer to this was subject-dependent. It was further decided that scientific or mathematic subjects were better in class whilst humanities and writing-related subjects were better in the take-home format. The third question presented was whether or not assessments were better in blocks or spread out throughout the term. This vote was very close with a 60-40 split in favour of assessment blocks. The fourth question presented at the forum was about the usefulness of assessment feedback with 80-90% of students finding feedback useful. However, many found that more feedback would be necessary and helpful as many are still sometimes confused by where they have lost marks. Following on from that question the Forum was then asked how ‘student-friendly’ marking criteria are. Only 30% of the forum found the marking criteria were student-friendly finding that language and descriptions can be unclear or confusing. Because, really, what do ‘extensive’, ‘thorough’, ‘sound’ and basic’ even mean? The final question was a simple one, it was asked whether or not assessments were necessary for learning at school. There was a 100% vote for the necessity of assessments, with everyone finding assessments helpful for learning.  

The Forum itself was a success. It’s a great premise that allows the general school public to voice their opinions which can then lead to further discussion in the SRC and then amongst schoolteachers and leadership. But this idea has one requirement, it needs people. This forum, for the first time, had a reasonable turnout of around 30 people. The issue was, half of them were year 12, which meant that the opinions were biased towards the older students in the school. What I’m getting at here is that the Forum needs more participants. It goes for one or two lunches a term and you can come and go as you please. To have the best, well-rounded, and nuanced opinions of the school we need as many people from many grades to come as possible. I assure you, it’s not a waste of time and if you like talking, debating, arguing or you have a genuine desire to see this school as a better place, then please come to the Forum. 

The next Forum will be held on Thursday Week 4, with the topic of the canteen, so if you have any opinions, ideas, or passionate complaints about the canteen please come along and join the discussion. The only way to actually make meaningful change in this school is to get around these initiatives and participate. 

I hope to see all of you at the next Forum.