Linda Abbott, Bulwell EAZ Manager, and Tony McDaid of the Calderglen partnership recommend a focussed and transparent process of recruitment to student leadership programmes, including being explicit about the benefits of leadership opportunities, outlined in the previous section.
Life at school provides young people with many opportunities to develop leadership skills, and participating in a residential camp with younger children is not for everyone. Young people will need to demonstrate patience and resilience themselves, in order to support younger children and enhance their residential experience. Creating a ‘person specification’ for the role of Learning Away Young Leader is a helpful way to clarify the skills and attributes young people will need to bring with them, as well as the skills they might expect to acquire or develop once there.
At Bulwell Academy, young people formally apply to join the Sports Leadership programme and during the recruitment process are asked to consider and elaborate on the valuable skills they feel they can bring to the leadership team. An example of Bulwell Academy’s application form can be seen here.
Linda Abbot and Tony McDaid’s top tips for student recruitment include:
- Seek recommendations and nominations from teachers/tutors regarding potential student leaders.
- Implement a structured and transparent application process that suits the leadership programme and its potential candidates. This process is more effective when it includes an application form and a formal or informal interview.
- At the interview stage, emphasise the levels of responsibility required, but balance this by asserting confidence in the prospective student leaders.
- Be prepared for ‘natural wastage’; it’s almost inevitable that some individuals will struggle to meet the demands of the process and will drop out.
- As with any recruitment process, ensure the candidates know the assessment criteria; informal assessment sheets for each candidate will prove invaluable at a later date if more challenging opportunities are offered to higher-performing individuals.
Involving previous or current student leaders in recruitment can make a significant difference to whether potential candidates decide to join a student leadership programme. Make use of their own evaluations to promote the benefits of volunteering for a student leadership role, focusing on the benefits to students themselves as well as the wider community. Student leadership programmes at Bulwell and Calderglen partnerships make the most of evaluation quotes such as:
“Student leadership makes you more confident, it makes you able to adapt.”
“It made me more independent outside school and in school.”
“The experience has helped with my career choice of working with children. I’ve gone out and got further experience and now applied for primary education at university.”
“A lot of the skills you learn here you wouldn’t be able to learn in a classroom, so you take a lot away from it.”
Student leaders on residential visits are subject to the same legal and logistical requirements as any other participating young person. The Learning Away resource library contains a range of downloadable planning templates, including this parents’ consent form, packing list and risk benefit assessment guidance.