The democratic classroom

Looking for a way for students to experience democracy in your school? Learn how to create and maintain a class or school parliament with the Parliamentary Education Office’s new teacher professional learning program.

Apply now

Who is this program for?

Year 5 and 6 teachers who are seeking accreditation as a highly accomplished or lead teacher. For more information see Learning for you: AITSL standards.

How much of a commitment is the program?

The democratic classroom will run for 16 weeks and include 3 collaborative workshops with teachers from across Australia. The amount of time you invest at your school will vary based on the scope of your parliament. In class time will include lessons to run elections, draft a constitution and to hold at least one meeting of your school parliament.

For answers to more of your questions, see Frequently asked questions.

During this program you will:

  • enhance your knowledge and understanding of Australia’s democracy
  • learn from case studies of real, successful school parliaments
  • have the opportunity to get started with your own class or school parliament, supported by the PEO
  • come away with a collection of curriculum-aligned interactive and immersive teaching resources and strategies
  • have the opportunity to lead an initiative within your school and support colleagues, addressing AITSL standards at the highly accomplished and lead teacher levels.

With more than 30 years’ experience in educating students and teachers about the Australian Parliament, we look forward to introducing you to the exciting opportunities of civics and citizenship education in your classroom.

Frequently asked questions

Question

Answer

Why should I participate in The democratic classroom teacher professional learning program?

This free program will guide you through the process of developing, implementing and evaluating a school parliament. With the support and expertise of the PEO, you will create classroom materials and learn skills to share with other teachers in your school. You will also connect to a network of other passionate and experienced teachers to work with in the future.

The school parliament learning module you will create during the program will give your students an immersive experiential learning experience.

How will this program help me teach the curriculum?

The democractic classroom has been developed to align with the Years 5 and 6 Australian Civics and Citizenship Currciculum. It covers everything from the meaning of democracy to the responsiblities of electors and representatives to law-making and scrutiny.

This teacher professional learning program will give you a framework for lessons where students engage with these concepts on a practical level. A school parliament is a fun and memorable activity, meaning students will absorb and remember what they have learned.

For more information see Learning for your students: Australian Curriculum.

Do I need to get the whole school involved in my school parliament?

No, school parliaments work well with different numbers of members. You could start small with just a class. Or you could think about bringing together a whole year or stage level to work together on a problem they have recognised. A whole school parliament is a great way to get students of all levels involved in decision-making, however this will take more time and effort from you.

How much of a commitment is the program?

The democratic classroom will run for 16 weeks and include 3 collaborative workshops with teachers from across Australia. The amount of time you invest at your school will vary based on the size of your parliament. In class time will include lessons to run elections, draft a constitution and to hold at least one meeting of your school parliament.

How much does the program cost?

The democratic classroom program is free for teacher participants.

School parliaments can be run for free or you may wish to enliven it with props. These can be as simple or elaborate as you like. There are templates on the PEO website on the PEO website to make your own props, or you could get students to design and make their own.

What additional support will be available?

The PEO is here to help you navigate establishing and running your school parliament. Apart from the 3 collaborative digital workshops, there will also be digital ‘drop-in’ sessions to ask questions and get feedback. Google Classroom will be used to share materials and communicate with PEO educators.

 Apply now

Learning for you: AITSL standards

Standard 2: Know the content and how to teach it

2.1.3 Support colleagues using current and comprehensive knowledge of content and teaching strategies to develop and implement engaging and learning and teaching programs.

2.1.4 Lead initiatives within the school to evaluate and improve knowledge of content and teaching strategies, and demonstrate exemplary teaching of subjects using effective, research-based learning and teaching programs.

Standard 6: Engage in professional learning

6.3.3 Initiate and engage in professional discussions with colleagues in a range of forums to evaluate practice directed at improving professional knowledge and practice, and the education outcomes of students.

6.3.4 Implement professional dialogue within the school or professional learning network(s) that is informed by feedback, analysis of current research and practice to improve the educational outcomes of students.

Learning for your students: Australian Curriculum

Year 5

ACHASSI102 Work in groups to generate responses to issues and challenges 

  • participating in a relevant democratic process (for example, in class votes, mock parliament, school decision-making processes such as student councils)

ACHASSK116 The key features of the electoral process in Australia

  • exploring the secret ballot and compulsory voting as key features of Australia’s democracy

Year 6

ACHASSI130 Work in groups to generate responses to issues and challenges 

  • participating collaboratively on committees, in an enterprise or a simulated parliament taking responsibility for respectful interactions with others

ACHASSK145 The responsibilities of electors and representatives in Australia’s democracy 

  • considering the responsibilities of electors (for example, enrolling to vote, being informed and voting responsibly)
  • identifying the characteristics that would make for a ‘good’ representative at the local, state/territory or national level

ACHASSK146 Where ideas for new laws can come from and how they become law 

  • investigating where ideas for new laws come from (for example, from party policy, perhaps announced during an election campaign; from suggestions by members and senators; from interest groups in the community)
  • exploring how bills are debated and scrutinised (for example, the role of parliamentary committees and the ability of citizens to make submissions to these committees)