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Student Leadership goes from Strength to Strength.

21 May 2021  |  Jill Lundberg  |  Posted in:

We are delighted to announce the appointment of thirty two Year 10 student leaders. While student leadership has been firmly established in the sixth form for a number of years, it’s still relatively new and very much a rapidly developing project in the main school, this being our third cohort.

At Richmond School and Sixth Form College, we believe that our students should be given opportunities to lead and inspire others by striving for excellence and being the best they can be in all aspects of school life. Student leadership is so much more than having a list of jobs to fulfil or wearing a special badge or tie – at Richmond School, student leaders are role models, they are highly regarded across the school and they are expected to make a genuine and positive contribution to school improvement.

With those goals in mind, we wanted to give our new student leaders some training to enable them to develop a deeper understanding of what leadership entails so we came up with the idea of running a leadership workshop. This was organised by Ms Mannion and led by guest speaker, Kevin Netherton, age 29, CEO of Euroventure, who inspired the student leaders with stories of his own experiences of leadership from captaining a war ship in the Royal Navy to setting up and leading his own businesses. Kevin encouraged the student leaders to think about how they can make an impact on their school and the wider community. Mrs Potter and Mr Crane also led a session on leadership, opening up about their own leadership experiences and some of the challenges they have faced. The student leaders responded very positively to the event, found it incredibly inspiring and gave us some very complimentary feedback:

“Personally, the way Kev presented it really inspired me and it made me actually feel really good. It changed my outlook on everything and made me feel really positive. He couldn’t have done it better.”

“I really liked seeing Mrs Potter and Mr Crane outside of the school environment. They were very open and honest in what they were telling us, for example Mrs Potter was not afraid to talk about the challenges of running a large school.”

“Kevin (from The Yorkshire Leadership Academy) was confident and communicated really well, he knew how to engage us in discussions. We learnt how to develop our skills through public speaking, work experience and extracurricular opportunities.”

Over the last three years, our student leaders have made a valuable contribution to the life of the school; student leaders in both Key Stage 4 and 5 have helped to shape the direction of this project by contributing to and leading their own meetings, collaborating and deciding what their priorities should be and liaising with the relevant members of staff. Before Covid-19 struck, student leaders met with the school Catering Manager to reduce the use of single-use plastic across the school; they were acting as ambassadors to give tours to visitors and helping at school events, as well as attending meetings with governors and senior leaders to discuss key aspects of school improvement.

In the autumn term, the Year 11 student leaders helped to determine the content of the Learning for Life programme for their year group. The established programme of assemblies and visiting speakers has not been able to happen this year but the student leaders communicated with the Lead Learning Manager about what they and their fellow students felt they needed to help them with their studies. As a result, the programme now consists of students being introduced to a series of tried and tested, evidence-based study techniques with some study time allowed to enable students to trial the technique learnt that day.

Under the supervision of Mrs Weston, the senior student leaders from Year 13 conducted the interviews to appoint our new Year 10 student leaders. This was an incredibly valuable experience for both interviewers and interviewees and the senior student leaders really stepped up to the challenge by drawing up the questions and grading the candidates’ responses themselves. All participants took the process very seriously with the interviews being conducted in a highly professional manner, a valuable experience for all concerned.

Obviously Covid-19 has prevented student leaders from participating in face-to-face meetings with people from outside their year group; however, they have adapted and found numerous, innovative ways to contribute to our new virtual way of working by taking part in on-line assemblies and other video messages on behalf of the school. In fact, the student leadership launch assembly was replaced with a promotional video which was scripted, directed, filmed and edited by the student leadership team themselves.

So what next? Well, when the Covid restrictions are eased, we have plans for student leaders to act as learning mentors to students in Years 7 and 8; we plan to introduce further improvements to making our school more environmentally friendly and we want students in different year groups to have the opportunity to work together alongside senior leaders to help shape our school development plan.

Mrs Weston, Lead Learning Manager, said: “Our Student Leaders have enormous energy and an abundance of ideas; they know our school’s strengths and weaknesses better than anyone so of course, we want to harness their brilliance to help them to help us ‘be the best we can be’. They are our finest ambassadors and we want to give them opportunities to get out into the community, meet the public and to show everyone what a great school we are!”

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