At the Weald, we place a huge amount of focus on student voice and believe that in order to run an effective and happy school, the students must feel comfortable with the direction the school is moving in.
It is of course, those students who we are trying to engage every day.
Whilst like many schools, the older students at The Weald are given certain responsibilities relating to making decisions for a certain body of students, such as ‘captains’ of their House, it is our view that leadership opportunities should be made available from the first moment students walk through the doors of The Weald in year 7.
With this in mind, we have over twenty different strands of leadership on offer, irrespective of age. An example of this can be seen by the work of our Maths Leaders who, aged 11 to 13, do a fantastic job in visiting their old Primary Schools to tutor Year 6 Students in advance of them completing their Key Stage 2 SATS exams. Other examples of our youngest Students engaging in leadership opportunities can be seen in our very successful ‘Green-power car’ team or in representative roles within their House.
Another reason we are particularly proud of our student leadership system is the way in which many of our groups have an impact not only on the school they are part of every day, but also on the local community.
Take the fantastic Radio Weald team for example, who run a completely student-lead radio station that broadcasts to the local area every week, or the Community Leaders, who have this year arranged a lunch and entertainment for local pensioners at the school.
The impact that our student leaders have on their own school however, is still a huge focus of ours. Take our group of student observers for example, who have an influence on teaching and learning at the school by completing training so they are able to observe lessons and feedback effectively to staff on their views on the strengths of the lesson and ways in which they feel learning and engagement in the classroom could be improved.
Staff are very accepting of this feedback from students and it is this type of culture, in which student voice is not only listened to but acted upon, that we are constantly striving to achieve.
The school is also very reliant on the work of our Student Leaders in the everyday running of the school; groups such as our library leaders and student technicians are excellent examples of this.
Whilst several examples of our leadership opportunities have been mentioned, there are many more, all contributing hugely to making the Weald a community whereby collaboration underpins the ethos of the school. We are constantly striving to offer the best opportunities possible to our students in terms of leadership, as we believe that the roles they undertake whilst in school will prepare them well for the opportunities they may be offered when they leave us.
We currently have over 600 students undertaking some form of leadership role within the School and we are very proud of all the hard work that those students do to make The Weald and the Local Community a better place. Whilst we are obviously thrilled to have such great numbers take part in Leadership, what is vital is the impact that these students are having, and perhaps even more importantly, the impact and benefits that it is having on them.
Report and picture contributed by Ben Pollard – student leadership coordinator, The Weald School.