Changes to student leadership

Over recent years the College has continued to review and develop how Student Leadership is implemented into the Secondary School at St Andrew’s. This has been done with the aim of finding the best model and approach for our students. Across many secondary schools, including St Andrew’s, the traditional model has been that a relatively small group of students are appointed into “formal” leadership positions in  both Year 9 and Year 12; for us this has been our Middle Years Leaders and Prefects. While there is no question that this model has allowed for some student-led projects and events to take place at the College, we fear this model awards students before they have truly had the opportunity to develop and demonstrate their leadership abilities or their willingness to give back to the College Community. To use a sporting analogy, we award a “best on ground” before the match has even begun!

As a College we have wrestled with this approach as it contradicts the core belief that every child, given the right set of circumstances and environment, has the potential to be an effective leader and role model for their peers and the younger students. If we consider leadership as being confined to only those in positions with a badge then we are actively discouraging the leadership potential and capability of many other very capable students.

Leadership can be directly linked to Service Learning. Service Learning is a key component of our College’s strategic intent where we provide opportunities for students to serve and learn to develop an understanding of the responsibilities that come with being part of a local and global community. By doing so, we aim to raise the students’ awareness of the needs of others and develop their empathy and compassion for others. It is about serving others before themselves! In fact, it is wonderful to see so many of our students involved in helping those in need, either through their daily actions or their involvement in our structured Global and Service Learning Programs such as St Andrew’s Serves or the GO Thailand/Cambodia Trips. Strong leadership can be demonstrated through selfless actions and without the need of a title or the wearing of a badge. Consequently, we need to foster a leadership culture within all students and provide them with both the support and opportunities to experience and develop their leadership skills and potential. In this way, students will hopefully recognise that leadership is an ongoing learning process and one which is developed through attitude, education and experience.

Just as the Primary School did towards the end of 2017, the Secondary School Leadership model, namely the Middle Years Leaders and Prefects, will be modified to align with this philosophy. That is, opportunities for leadership will be available for all students who are interested in exploring their leadership potential. A distributed leadership model will be introduced in which all interested students will experience a position of responsibility. This approach will provide authentic opportunities and training for the students to develop their individual leadership skills.

Service roles will be offered to students on a need basis where staff require assistance, such as College events, charity events, Open Days, Year 7 days to name a few or when the student body as a collective wish to run its own event or activity such as Pay It Forward Week. These leadership groups and committees will be formed and students can self-nominate in one of the areas where they believe they can contribute and support. The staff member in charge of that area will work with the students to help them develop their leadership skills, to support fellow students and to benefit the wider school community. We believe such roles will enable the students to gain valuable leadership experience by growing in confidence, building teamwork, working collaboratively, solving problems, making decisions and thus becoming responsible citizens and positive role models. Therefore, from Semester 2, when the current Year 11’s would have previously been appointed as Prefects, we will actively promote the need for all interested students to demonstrate leadership by example and through service. Of course it is important that this leadership model is coordinated and directed by staff and two student representatives. These representatives will be the College captains who will be appointed by the Principal in consultation with staff.

It is worth mentioning that one of our major concerns when investigating this model was what impact would this new leadership model have on our senior students when applying for College accommodations or scholarships after Year 12. Given this, at the end of 2017, I approached multiple Colleges and Universities with this concern and was, in all instances, assured that titles or badges added no weight to an application; rather it was the content of an individual’s leadership abilities that had the major influence in this area.

We recognise that the new Secondary Leadership model may bring a certain amount of angst and possible disappointment for some students, particularly for our current Year 11 students who may have wished to be appointed as a Prefect. Please note that we are not devaluing the role that leadership plays in the school; rather we are broadening the leadership opportunities for many more students to become involved in activities to develop their skills and promote their growth.  If students or parents have any questions or would like to personally discuss with me this new model, then please do not hesitate to contact Brad Bowen or myself at cpiper@saac.qld.edu.au

Mr Cam Piper 

DEAN OF STUDENTS - SENIOR YEARS