Leadership in schools is often thought of first as the domain of adults and staff members, but the most enriching and positive school environments are those that place a great emphasis on elevating the voice of students. Students are in a unique position as potential leaders, able to represent the needs and concerns of the student body while working with staff leaders to make a positive impact on school culture.
Student leadership consists of any position a student can take on to become responsible for the organisation and running of a particular group or in a given field. This could be in a particular area like sport, music or arts, or for a home/care group or entire school. Leaders are often placed in a position to motivate others, contribute to discussions of change or improvements, and represent their school and community.
Importantly, student leadership is not about hierarchy or seniority — in fact, it is much more about working the common good of the student body and the school community as a whole. As such, leadership capabilities can be developed by any student with an interest in serving others.
Many school leadership processes begin with a simple question: why do you want to be a student leader? A true leader is someone who wants to make improvements to the environment around them, and ensure everyone can share in the benefits. Leadership should not be viewed as an opportunity just to elevate oneself, but to make a positive contribution to a wider community.
The qualities of a good student leader include diligence and proactivity, and a striving to act intelligently. These skills help them tackle the various challenges that may come their way. Aside from these general skills, some of the most important qualities of a student leader include:
Overall, the approach of a true leader is to take into account the varied perspectives, needs, interests and challenges of the people in the group or collective that they serve, and to take positive steps to address them as much as possible.
Leadership can exist in almost any area, depending less on the context and more on a student’s personal inclination to do something for others. It is not at all limited to formal activities. Students can display leadership by:
Contributing in these areas allow students to explore their ambition, passion and adaptability, while also collaborating with adult leaders and becoming more active participants in their community.
Student leaders provide an important voice between the student body and staff, including the Principal. By acting as a bridge between these two bodies, student leaders can work to ensure all needs are understood and concerns or opinions are heard from all sides. From this, students and staff can work collaboratively and aim towards collective goals.
While important in the day to day function of a school, the importance of student leadership is most reflected in what comes after school. Students naturally have the opportunity to become leaders in other spheres of their life and in their wider personal communities. Allowing students to take on the responsibilities of leadership ensures they can develop the important skills and confidence that will enable them to lead in a variety of ways in the future. By promoting leadership in our students, we ensure that the next generation of professional and community leaders are compassionate, willing and well-equipped to handle the obligations of their positions.
Nurturing student leadership in a secondary school setting is an investment in the future, empowering students to become confident, responsible, and empathetic individuals. Encouraging students makes them well-equipped to lead in their academic and professional lives.
We proudly offer a variety of leadership programs for students to build confidence and ability, letting them practise leadership behaviour and enrich our school culture. By providing leadership opportunities, schools can not only enrich the lives of their students but also prepare them to make a meaningful impact on the world.