Students unleash their voice at BCE’s inaugural Festival of Ideas

Festival of Ideas

BCE Executive Director Pam Betts with Student Voice Consultants

“WE are listening!”

That was the assurance Brisbane Catholic Education’s (BCE) Executive Director Pam Betts gave to more than 70 student delegates who “unleashed their voices” at the inaugural Festival of Ideas.

Held in the State Library’s creative hub The Edge, the Festival of Ideas provided a platform for the secondary students to discuss the top issues that impacted on their educational experience, including safety and belonging, curriculum, facilities and Student Voice.

Miss Betts said the festival, run by students, for students, had exceeded all her expectations.

She said the range of issues raised really captured the heart of what it was to be a student in one of our schools.

She encouraged the students to continue to raise their voices on behalf of every young person in a BCE school.

“Your voice is absolutely critical to us and we commit to hearing that voice right across our system,” she told the student delegates.

“We will hear you and we will do everything we can to take the issues you raise and make them a reality so that our schools can be better places.”

“Places where we can serve young people, including those who will come after you, even better than we do now,” she said.

Celebrating a successful Festival of Ideas

Throughout the day-long festival, student delegates collaborated in Action Teams, came up with solutions and pitched their Action Plans to their peers.

Following a vote, they were delighted to learn Student Voice was the top issue to be actioned by BCE’s Student Voice Team at a systemic level in 2020.

Alysha Gray, one of 13 Student Voice Consultants, said six months of effort went into planning and bringing the Festival to fruition.

The St Thomas More College, Sunnybank, student said she could not have asked for a better outcome with the ideas and solutions the student delegates came up with even better than she could have imagined.

She said prioritising opportunities for Student Voice at school and system level supported that students wanted to be heard in BCE.

“We believe that by giving students input into their schooling experience it will provide benefits to not only individual students, but our entire system of schools.”

“Having Miss Betts and the BCE Leadership Team here showed that Student Voice is valued and that our team is valued by BCE,” she said.


Students Aidan Toohey and Hannah Box travelled from Sienna Catholic College, Sippy Downs, to the State Library to unleash their voice

Student delegates Hannah Box and Aidan Toohey, who travelled from Siena Catholic College, Sippy Downs, said the Festival of Ideas was an opportunity to engage and enjoy time with their peers while trying to initiate change in BCE.

Hannah said it was empowering for the students to understand their voices were important when it came to decision-making within BCE.

“It’s great to see that BCE cares about us and wants to listen to what we have to say concerning our education,” Aiden said.

Student Voice project manager Carolyn De Witt-Ryall said she had not expected the festival to be such a massive success.

“It was amazing, beyond my dreams,” she said.

Carolyn, also BCE Professional Standards and Student Protection Senior Officer, said there was a lot of creativity, fun and enthusiasm in the room.

“They came up with some great ideas, practical ideas with practical solutions.”

She said it meant a lot to the students to have the support of Miss Betts and the rest of the BCE Leadership Team.

“It showed the students the adults in BCE were listening to them, respected what they had to say and valued their contributions to making BCE schools safe, inclusive and student-focused,” she said.


BCE Senior Leader - Learning and Identity Catherine Thompson Executive Director Pam Betts, Director - Employee Services Peter Hill and Deputy Executive Director Dr Doug Ashleigh are welcomed to the inaugural Festival of Ideas

Top stories