Trust Student Leadership
Opportunities exist in all schools in the Trust, for pupils to learn the nature of representative democracy through first-hand involvement enabling authentic pupil voice. There is also a leadership curriculum provided by a Student Leadership Coordinator in each school that are designed to provide opportunities for students of all ages to develop their skills in leadership.
Our Trust Student Leadership meetings and conferences
Each school in SMART nominates four ‘Trust Student Leaders’ and four reserve leaders from their student councils. This is a high status position of authority in each school.
Each half term, Trust Student Leaders have between three and six research questions to investigate. They must organise a discussion with as many students as possible from the school and then they are invited to a meeting in which the Trust Student Leaders from all six schools come together and share their findings. In the best of these in December 2021 we managed to reach over 80% of our 3000+ students to hear their views.
In the half term before Easter and the two during the summer term, Student Leaders bid to host a conference at their school. These conferences are on a topic that students have chosen and feel passionately about. Student leaders from all six schools come to the conferences and take part in the discussions and activities the students have created.
The outcomes of our discussions and conferences
Please click here to look at all of the notes and outcomes from all of our meetings over the past few years. These notes are circulated and discussed by the Trust Board, by the Local Governing Committee of each school and by the senior teams of each school. Many of the decisions taken over the years have been influenced by this group. https://www.smart-trust.net/student-council-meetings/
Why we place so much importance on student voice and student leadership
In a survey by the Institute of Directors it was discovered that 90% of the leaders of the UKs most successful companies held a student leadership position whilst at school. Of these, most also could trace this back to their primary school.
A survey by the OCED discovered that ‘student voice’ which is to say, proper representation of students in decision making was amongst the least developed in UK schools compared to internationally.
Andreas Schleicher, Head of International Student Assessment at the OECD warned that the low status given to these and other crucial underpinning skills were placing the standing of the UK education system at risk particularly given the rapidly changing employment market.
The nature of student leadership, however, means that it would be difficult to make it a curriculum subject. Students who have a passion for particular issues, for equality, for politics, leadership or representation demonstrate this by choosing to engage in opportunities, choosing to push themselves forward and choosing to take responsibility, hence a programme that all pupils had to follow may lose sight of this fundamental aspect: initiative.
For these reasons, the ‘curriculum’ for student leadership must be one made up of opportunities that are put in front of students.
Each of these opportunities must be well constructed so that they can be used as a vehicle to get the balance of challenge, nurture and training right.
Often individual talent in leadership must be spotted, nurtured and developed meaning that often the programme may have bespoke opportunities created to enable the growth that is needed.