Student leadership programmes are now widespread in schools. Several Learning Away partnerships included residentials in their student leadership programmes in order to provide students with important and meaningful leadership experiences.

The resources in the Student Leadership collection were largely developed by the Bulwell and Calderglen Learning Away partnerships and will help schools integrate residentials into student leadership programmes – and vice versa.

What do we mean by the term ‘student leadership’?

Many young people are interested in taking responsibility for different aspects of school life, and in doing so develop and practise skills they’ll need later in life, for example in further education or the workplace. Schools have a vital role to play in helping students develop these skills, which they often do by providing supported opportunities for students to lead activities or longer-term projects in an area they find interesting.

The key to successful student involvement in schools is the ability to provide young people with focused tasks that have a real purpose: i.e. they have a genuine impact on their peers’ experiences of school.

Some common examples include:

  • class or tutor group reps on a school council – canvassing and reporting back to their ‘constituents’
  • student governors – unofficial observers at Governing Body meetings, where appropriate
  • student interview panels
  • supporting local community councils – for example hosting or being granted time out of school to attend events
  • fundraising and special projects – school performances, charity appeals
  • leading extra-curricular clubs – Duke of Edinburgh / John Muir awards, sporting and other groups with mixed ages and abilities
  • school ambassadors – welcoming visitors , promoting the school at open days, parents’ evenings and external events
  • linking with feeder primary schools – easing transition for new Year 7 students
  • buddying or peer mentoring
  • peer mediation
  • playground leaders
  • participating in curriculum-integrated activities – student librarians, school newsletter and website, peer tutoring and assisting with day and residential visits.

Learning Away and student leadership

Several of the Learning Away partnerships focused on developing student leadership as part of their residential programmes.

As they discovered, participating in the development, delivery and evaluation of brilliant residentials has proved to be highly effective:

 “Experiencing success in leadership activities motivated students to take on additional responsibilities and made them want to continue with their leadership role again, seeing a ‘virtuous circle’ of behaviour leading to improved student motivation and engagement.”

York Consulting’s second interim evaluation report 2014

In addition, these Learning Away partnerships found that their residentials enabled young people to take responsibility and develop leadership skills, including:

  • team building
  • facilitating problem solving
  • coaching
  • mentoring
  • role modelling
  • time management
  • organisation

In this short film Pete Deacon, the School Sports Coordinator at Bulwell Academy, gives an overview of their student leader programme that starts in Year 9.

This resource outlines the benefits that Learning Away partnerships have identified from working with student leaders. It also explores some of the methods they have used, through their brilliant residentials, to develop and support them.