Championing student leadership

Championing student leadership
As schools face the ever more urgent challenges of ensuring wellbeing for their students, the value of including students in their planning should be recognised.

One way of doing this is through the development of student leaders and ensuring student voice is part of the process.

Student leaders can play a pivotal role in this planning by helping to cultivate a culture of collaboration and empowerment. In leading the way, they can contribute to the improvement of both the school culture and environment.

School-wide impact

Potential benefits of great student leadership might include:

  1. Increased student engagement – student leaders are more likely to be engaged in their education and invested in the success of their school.
  2. The development of valuable personal skills such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and decision making which will enhance their learning.
  3. Increased school – community engagement as students support events within school and out in the community.
  4. Enhanced school culture through student leaders promoting a sense of cohesion and community within the school.
  5. The development of student voice can help to identify and address issues of inequality, discrimination and social justice within the school.
Student Leadership – Discover

Whilst there may be a focus on key groups of students such as student council and prefects most students would benefit from developing their own leadership skills and this can be achieved in a wide range of contexts.

Student leaders can be active in all areas of school life including sports, subjects, peer support and mentoring and volunteering.

Benefits for young people

Research shows that an active focus on student leadership and student voice can have the following benefits:

  • Student leadership supports the wider curriculum, particularly wellbeing.
  • Students are more likely to take ownership of their own learning and take the initiative in their education.
  • Students can provide peer support, acting as mentors and supporting other students helping to create a positive and inclusive school culture.
  • Developing leadership skills encourages students to be more resilient, adapting to change and seeking out solutions.
  • Schools that foster a culture where students feel empowered to express their opinions and contribute to school improvement initiatives promote student agency, thus fostering a sense of belonging, and enhances the educational experience of their students.

One way of fostering the development of student leadership skills is to engage students in SSAT’s Student Leadership Accreditation. It provides motivation to develop their skills and recognition of the progress that they make. Student Leadership Accreditation is included in SSAT membership and is available for primary, secondary and special schools. You can view the framework here to find out more about the accreditation and the awards criteria.

Sylvia King, Senior Education Lead, SSAT

Sylvia King, Senior Education Lead, SSAT

Sylvia has worked in schools and colleges joining the teaching profession over 30 years ago as a teacher of Business and Economics. Her primary focus has been Post 16 Education and she has specialised in vocational education, careers, coaching and assessment. An experienced teacher and leader she first joined SSAT in 2006, leaving in 2016 and returned as a Senior Education Lead in 2020.

Student Leadership

How do you ensure that student voice and student leadership is both meaningful and effective in school? SSAT provide a range of training for staff coordinating student leadership as well as in-school training for students.

Find out more

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