Activating Agency and Social Innovation with 175 Year 9 Students

Ballarat Grammar (BG) has a rich pedagogy in their Year 9 program, using an inquiry-based approach. BG’s existing teen inquiry project taught students how to research topics, synthesise information, think critically, write literature reviews and present findings. CIC was engaged to help design and deliver a process that complemented the existing program and extended the learner from being a researcher into an inventor and creator.

CIC Into Action

CIC worked with BG educators and students to design a term-long curriculum underpinned by CIC’s Social Innovation Process.


The CIC process consists of four phases:


  1. Explore and discover
  2. Generate ideas
  3. Prototype, test and twist
  4. Promote and pitch


    CIC provided professional development prior to the launch of the program and four workshops at key points of the process. Teachers and students were provided with the CIC Social Innovators Curriculum and easy to follow resources (e.g. activity sheets, templates and videos). CIC brought relevant organisations in for the pitch event so that students presented to professionals with a genuine interest in their work.

    Crazy Good Impact

    Around 175 students developed ideas for creatively responding to teen issues such as; stress, healthy relationships, body image, risk taking and young people making the most of the opportunities around them.


    BG undertook action research throughout the process and found that the personal agency of students increased as a result of their participation. Indicators suggest that for young people, learning how to move beyond research into ideation, prototyping and idea refinement builds confidence that they can work constructively in teams, problem solve and lead change on issues they care about.


    Pitching to people from outside the school community challenged the students to keep testing and refining the idea so that they could present a compelling story about why their idea mattered and how it could practically be implemented. A number of ideas have been marked as having scope for advancement with external partners.


    All up, eight teachers supported young people on their CIC journey. Teachers observed that in seeking to position the students as social innovators, their role changed. Students were given increased freedom to take charge of their learning experience and to problem solve their way through the process. As they became familiar with the methodology and rhythm of the CIC process, teachers applied their expertise at key moments to help teams stretch their thinking and learning.

    The CIC team has been engaged again in 2022 and ran a CICstarter for all 180 students on their first day in the year 9 program. BG identified that the CIC process was a lively and constructive way for students to get an immediate feel for how their year 9 learning experience will be different. Students will apply the CIC methodology and curriculum in term three with the CIC team staging workshops at two key points in the process. BG has been able to scale back CIC in person support as teachers feel equipped to lead most aspects of the journey.

    “CIC provided the expertise, structure and support we needed to create an authentic, real world learning experience that increased our students’ sense of agency, both as learners and as change-makers. Our world needs more young people with crazy good ideas and CIC understands how to work with schools to make that happen.

    Rachael Williams, Year 9 Learning Leader

    “I learnt that I really enjoy creating original ideas and making them happen. Previously, I wasn't aware of my interest in inventing things. Life is so busy with other things a lot of the time, you never get to discover the other strange things that you're passionate about. Finding out that I'm passionate about creating new ideas and concepts for the benefit of those in need made me question what sort of career I may have been thinking about. I absolutely loved this project.“

    Year 9 student, Ballarat Grammar