Fostering student leadership through subject-based residentials

Key features

  • Student leadership
  • Real-world progression opportunities
  • Cohesive school community

Developing relevant, high-quality student leadership opportunities is a key aim for the Calderglen partnership in East Kilbride – but its unexpected early success in fostering these skills grew out of student-identified activities on and following its popular programme of subject-based residentials.

The schools’ subject-based residentials have a vertical age structure, crossing three year groups. The first subject-specific residentials were run in 2010 by the Drama staff, with subsequent PE and Music residentials.  There were immediate impacts. Feedback from students and staff was uniformly positive. The take-up of Drama as an examination subject increased. Students sitting exams achieved more highly than predicted. Read more about the programme here.

The partnership’s approach to student leadership emerged organically out of these subject-specific trips:

  • Older students who had taken part in the drama residential volunteered to start a school Drama club and re-instigated the lost tradition of the annual school play.
  •  The PE department had similar student leadership outcomes after a sports development residential, with students volunteering to coach on the after-school sports clubs and visiting feeder primary schools to teach P7 pupils

The school built on these students’ energy and enthusiasm to develop a number of in- and out-of-school training and progression opportunities. With a school-wide strategic focus on healthy lifestyles, the school became involved in the London 2012 Get Set Olympic volunteering programme. This led to a group of students visiting a partner school in a deprived South African suburb in 2011 to coach students there and develop facilities. This continued with an invitation to run activities for families in the Olympic Park in 2012. This group are now coaching on the annual S3 sports development residential and planning for a second visit to South Africa is well under way. A number of students are now considering careers as sports coaches or PE teachers.

“When I spoke to the students in August they were still clearly excited about the experience of working with a London school in the Olympic Park and being in the stadium on super-Saturday!”

Chris Loynes, Learning Away Advisor (North)

Seeking to embed and sustain these opportunities, the school now offers a leadership residential open to all interested senior pupils in S5 and S6. This has already supported the development of the school prefect system, and is helping to recruit student leaders for the emerging P7, S1 and S2 residentials – increasing cohesion across the school, and relieving some of the pressure of staffing the younger students’ residential programmes.