This week our students from P-12 joined together for their first Sisters meeting for 2022. Initiatives such as our Sisters program build connections, strengthen our school community and enhance school spirit by bringing together students from different grades to engage in shared experiences. Yesterday our girls had the opportunity to build new relationships and learn and laugh together.
Girls Grammars’ Sisters program is an integral part of our Pastoral Care Program and also provides genuine leadership opportunities for our senior girls. A year 12 student commented that there have been ‘two times she felt like a leader at RGGS’ and yesterday’s Sisters meeting was one of those. She is already planning for the next meeting and reflecting on how she can increase engagement by factoring in the varying ability level and interests of the girls in her group – a true leader!
Just like a workplace, it is important to have a clear aspirational path with leadership options available for students in schools.
Through our Pastoral Care and cocurricular programs, and Prefect and Student Council positions, Girls Grammar students can further develop leadership attributes including communication, decision-making, organising and collaboration skills as well as strategic and risk management thinking, and resiliency.
An exploratory study conducted by Sara B. Marcketti and Sara J. Kadolph published in the International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education discusses the particular importance of this for girls.
“…exposure to leadership concepts is the first step in encouraging students to consider themselves as leaders in their home, work, and school communities (Astin & Astin, 2000; Shertzer & Schuh, 2004). Due to women’s limited leadership roles in the highest echelons of business and government, it is vital that institutions of higher education, especially programs that are predominantly female, consider ways to incorporate leadership development…”
Marcketti and Kadolph also found that the process of student leadership development influenced students’ understanding of the varied definitions of leadership and empowered them to consider that the behaviours, beliefs, and attitudes of leadership were attainable.
Through exposure to team building and student leadership, students learn how to build connections. Not only are they required to communicate and collaborate with students but also staff and occasionally people external to the school such as those in fundraising organisations.
Overall, the development of leadership programs in schools is considered to be a positive means of increasing personal, academic, and wellbeing outcomes for students and a further means of enhancing socioeconomic benefits (Hallinger, 2003; Leithwood, 1992; Marsh, 2012).
Amy Lightfoot in her article ‘Student leadership: why is it important and how do we support it?’ (2020) cites research by Kouzes and Posner which suggests there are five practices of exemplary leadership:
modelling the way
inspiring a shared vision
challenging the process
enabling others to act
encouraging the heart
Malala Yousafzai, is somebody who embodies these practices. In 2014 she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her fight for the right of every child to receive an education. On her 16th birthday she spoke in the United Nations and called for the equal right to education for girls all over the world, becoming a symbol of this cause. In that same year, TIME Magazine listed her in the top 100 most influential people in the world.
Whilst recognising that not everyone aspires to leadership, Girls Grammar will continue to review our programs to ensure students interested in these roles have the opportunity and support to develop the skills required to lead and make remarkable changes in their chosen field.
Acting Deputy Principal - Students