Home' Teacher : November 2009 Contents PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT 11
very careful selection. We've refined the
selection process over the years, and this
year seems to be working best.
Initially we let the students vote for all
roles, which became very time consuming
and led to students ending up in roles for
which they were unsuited. This year, we
only allowed students to vote for school
captain, with our principal having the final
say on whether they would be suitable.
This right of veto allowed us flexibility in
the selection and had an interesting effect
because it meant the students avoided mak-
ing the leadership vote into a popularity
In all other roles, students nominate
roles they would like, but staff choose who
will be given those jobs. This wasn't as cut
and dried as it might sound, mind you, as
we negotiated with the students about the
roles, particularly if they weren't given the
job they wanted.
Leadership roles must, of cou rse , be val-
ued and seen as important. We have our
captains' photos, with their leadership role
underneath, displayed in the foyer of the
school. The students look for ward to this
display going up and it's a vital element for
the success of the program. It's also a very
good marketing tool and one we point out
to all prospective students and their parents.
The naming of the various captains hap-
pens at assembly, with many tears flowing
as they are annou nced. Our captains are
given opportunities to speak at assembly
and, because they are given real jobs, they
feel that they are making a difference. Our
school student leaders are awarded badges
that they proudly wear on their uniforms.
The way we speak with the students and
the ethics we demonstrate and impart are
also important. We have high expectations
of our students and use statements like, 'As a
schoolleader, we expect. . ,' or questionslike,
'What should a school leader do in this situa-
tion?' We work with the students on the con-
cept that example is not one form of leader-
ship, it's the only form, since it's important
to understand that one doesn't always or
necessarily have to lead from the front.
Training is also important. Some roles
require more training than others, but all
require some. This year we also wrote job
descriptions, which has made the roles
easier for the students to take up.
Flexibility is important so the role list
has changed from year to year. We ask our
students to evaluate the program and decide
which roles should be changed, merged or
abandoned, and what new roles should be
Not everything works. One difficulty has
been when some students have failed to
be good school leaders. In extreme cases,
some students have abused the privilege of
leadership and lost their captaincies, but on
the whole this has been rare and has been
improved by the selection process.
Creating real opportunities for all stu-
dent leaders has been difficult, but this
has been overcome by changing some role
descriptions and having regular discussion
at staff meetings for practical ideas, or
responding to issues that staff discuss.
Disappointment is also a difficulty. Some
students are disappointed when they don't
get the role they want, but respectful and
careful negotiation usually means they're
amenable to taking another role.
Our main focus for improvement is to look
for more opportunities for our students to
be leaders, and to provide better training
Our student leadership program is both
simple and practical. It's made our students
more responsible, better behaved, academi-
cally and socially more successful and proud.
Some students really rise to the occasion,
although not all students are natural lead-
ers, and careful selection and good training
to assist them remains very important.
One of the best leaders we've had in the
school in the last few years wasn't actually
part of our leadership program. He missed
the selection process because of an overseas
trip, started helping a couple of friends in
their roles, did no training, but became
an example to them all. We wish we could
claim him, but some students are just great
leaders on their own. T
Anthony Hockey is Deputy Principal at
Sacred Heart Primary School in Preston ,
a school leader?
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