At Canons we understand the importance of providing students with leadership opportunities and building lasting relationships. Using Arnstein’s ladder of participation (below) established in 1969 we have sought to build on the work of the school council and develop a student leadership body that is working towards ‘citizen power’ and developing meaningful partnerships.
There is a lot of research that promotes the positives of using leadership to develop students’ skills. Skills that can help them both in later life and now.
Gannouni and Ramboarison-Lalao (2016) found that leadership develops both self-determination, ‘more autonomous, competent and related’, and self-efficacy, ‘more determined, stay longer at the tasks at hand, persist more, obtain higher results and achieve their goals’.
“Pascarella and Terenzini (1991) found that the development of leadership qualities increases students’ skills and their likelihood to obtain better jobs later.” (Cited in Gannouni and Ramboarison-Lalao, 2016, pg.2)
“Kuh (1995) found that leadership develops students’ critical thinking, teamwork, communication, time management, interpersonal relationships and planning abilities, thereby enhancing their marketability and employability.” (Cited in Gannouni and Ramboarison-Lalao, 2016, pg.2)
So far: This student leadership group was formed in October 2015 with the help of the head boy and girl from sixth form and Year 11. These students wanted to change the name of the student leadership group and the way applicants applied. Students’ submitted applications and three to four students from each year group were chosen by the head boys and girls. The group now meets every Tuesday Morning in the library with a focus on school improvement.
This year we have had several staff members present in these meeting including technology, Jack Petchey and the EU referendum. The students themselves have wanted to develop three areas; charity and community at Canons, learning, and technology.
In the charity and community group, the student government are currently deciding on appropriate charities that each year group will vote on and raise money for at their time in Canons. Once set up the student government will lead on the activities encouraging their head of year, form tutors and other students to get involved.
The learning group is looking at expanding the use of sixth form mentors in other core lessons and how we can use students as lesson observers to further develop engagement in lessons.
The technology group is considering how we can use various technologies to improve students’ experience at Canons including student radio, content for the YouTube channel and apps to support learning.
We have supported several parent partnership evenings and continue to support other projects in school ensuring staff have a group of students who they can get feedback from quickly. We had a student present a piece of work she was doing at a PPT team meeting and next year the plan is for all teams to make use of the student government is some way either through carrying out projects or to use as a student voice.
The main issues this year have been around organisation and the external demands students have including home pressures and academic. This has resulted in a change from meeting after school to before and weekly as opposed to bi-weekly.
At the start of the new timetable students will present assemblies to advertise for new recruits. The student government will interview candidates and select. The SSAT are coming in July to deliver student leadership training to the group.
In the new term we will design targets for the next year including all the three teams (charity and community, technology and learning).
There have been many successes this year, representatives in the Harrow Youth Parliament, students presenting assemblies, reforms to the Jack Petchy, the new head boy and girl appointed were part of the group and many more. The literature supports the importance of continuing to develop this leadership body and I want to expand this group to give leadership opportunities to as many students as possible. The value of these opportunities and the skills that are developed should not be underestimated and want to continue to develop the impact students have on the school.