"Our regional voice needs to be heard"

 Representing regional voices: Ben Neville will be attending the prestigous "Secretary for a Day" program in Sydney in August. Photo: Rachel Mounsey
Representing regional voices: Ben Neville will be attending the prestigous "Secretary for a Day" program in Sydney in August. Photo: Rachel Mounsey

Eden Marine High School student Ben Neville will soon be packing his bags and heading off to Sydney to take part in the Education Department's Secretary for a Day initiative.

The year 10 student was selected from more than 120 applications. The annual two-day program will bring together students from across the state to the department's offices in Parramatta, as part of Education Week activities in the first week of August.

The participants will work with Education Department staff to action positive change for schools and student learning and have the opportunity to influence system development.

Ben said a keen interest in politics and student leadership were the motivators for applying for the program. Being an active member of the Student Representative Council, he said he will be listening first to what his fellow students want for change before attending the conference.

"Because of our geographical location, regional and rural students don't have as strong a voice as other urban students. This is an opportunity for us to be heard and so it's important for me to take the collective voice to the department."

However on an individual level, Ben's ambitions to become a secondary teacher may have had an influence on the message he would like to take to the department. He would like to see teaching practices brought up to date with the "21stcentury" style of learning.

"There are so many different styles of learning. I think it's important we move away from the teacher out-the-front of the classroom way of doing things."

As part of the program Ben will also take part in creative and cultural advocacy and leadership workshops with industry and education experts.

Department of Education Executive Director, Lisa Alonso Love said the 2019 Education Week theme, 'Every student, every voice', provided the perfect opportunity for Secretary for a Day participants to make a real impact on decisions that affect their learning.

Ms Alonso Love said recent research, showed that valuing and acting on the ideas, opinions and expertise of all students and working together with students had significant positive impacts on student learning and wellbeing.

"This partnership in learning and action helps build a better education system," she said. "By inviting our students to share their perspectives, experiences and solutions, they can actively influence our decision-making and help shape our system to be the best education in Australia."

Education Week is a statewide, annual event that aims to showcase and celebrate the achievements of NSW's public school system, its students and staff.