Posted on 23/11/2021

109. Handing over the baton; the importance of student leadership

Student leadership holds a very special place in my heart. Being Head Boy since the 30th November 2020 until today has made me understand the crucial nature of a strong student leadership body in schools. There are three main reasons for this. 

Firstly, the student leadership team is vital in proliferating a robust and healthy culture in the school. There is a key balance to be struck between the student leadership team being a ‘trade union’ for students and the staff’s ‘spokespeople’. My experience is that student leaders’ role in developing a strong school culture comes from interceding for both parties. Firstly, staff to student intercession. Student leaders must be able to relay the values of the school to the other students. This is done by being role models to all other pupils and fully buying into the school’s ethos as well as diffusing it to students through casual conversations or formal assemblies. Secondly, student to staff intercession. This perhaps is the most stereotypical part of a student leader’s job - student council. However, for me, this was the most complex job. In being a mediator, the student leader must have some sense of realism in advocating student demands but also must be able to push the boundaries of the occasionally intransigent senior staff. I believe that if student leaders balance these seemingly opposing intermediary roles, it only helps the culture of the school to thrive. 

Being ambassadors for the school is another critical aspect of student leadership. Although at FBS, it is incumbent upon all students to be ambassadors of the school when they are off-site, the Head Boy team must epitomise this. Whether at school events such as open evenings, touring a visitor around the school or delivering speeches to other schools, a student leader is the example of what an FBS  pupil is like. I visited various schools in Yr 6, and more than the facilities or the staff, what I remember the most was how the student that toured me came across. A school needs to have student leaders that look smart and come across as confident but kind to attract potential students. However, perhaps the more important aspect of this is how this attitude then radiates to other students. They are an example for other pupils to know how to act. Overall, the importance of student leaders also lies in them being true representatives of the school. 

Lastly, the opportunity for student leadership in schools allows for students to improve their leadership skills. Since Yr 7, I have always had the will to lead; however, my capacity to do so has had to develop. I was elected as vice-captain of Wilberforce house in Yr 8 & Yr 11 and my ability to manage, stay organised and inspire was extremely questionable then. However, it is only through the student leadership provisions that a school offers that students can improve or discover these talents. For me, these two years were extremely formative in making me suitable for the role of Head Boy- where I further enhanced those skills. Moreover, the FBS Head Boy team is split into six deputy roles that help the Head Boy take a holistic approach to student leadership: Academic, Arts, Chaplaincy, Enterprise, Pastoral and Sport. Having spoken to my Deputy Head Boy team, they have also gained skills relevant to their roles, such as gaining links with charities or setting up a student mentoring programme. Student leadership trains and improves a multitude of skills that a classroom simply can’t address. I profoundly believe that school student leadership opportunities are the birthplace of tomorrow’s leaders. 

Personally, the journey that I have been through in the last twelve months has been extraordinarily fulfilling. I have learnt a multitude of skills that have made me a better intermediary, ambassador and leader. 

Now though, is the turn of the new guard under Henry. I am incredibly pleased to hand the baton over to him and his fantastic team so that they can build on the blueprint I hope to have provided as the first FBS Head Boy. 

Finally, I would like to sign off with a message of thanks. Thank you to all the students for electing me to head this school’s student leadership; thank you to staff- especially Mr Ebenezer, Mr Smith and Ms Igbokwe for constantly helping me better my leadership skills; and thank you to the founders of FBS, who are the premise of all of this. 

Merci. 

Armand de Lambilly
 

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