Rydal Penrhos Prep School head Lucy Davies returns with her weekly thoughts, with the topic of pupil leadership at the forefront of her mind.
At Rydal Penrhos pupil leadership is taken seriously…very seriously! The pupils know that we listen to them, respect their opinions and often turn their ideas into reality.
But today, as I was giving out the pupil leadership badges to each class rep (all pupils get a turn at these roles during the year), I was struck by the sheer joy that each class had over the presentation to their friends of a small metal badge. I began to wonder who learns the most from pupil leadership: the leaders themselves, their friends or the staff who work with them.
There are some who say that a five-year-old is too young to be selected for leadership, I would point out that if we want to live in a truly democratic society, where every vote does indeed count, then we need to learn the value of democracy at an early age.
The pupils selected today are so proud to represent their class and, in the case of Year 6, their school. They learn responsibility, sacrifice (losing break to attend a meeting is a big sacrifice for any pupil!) and as one pupil leader told me today, “We learn to listen to others, it’s not just my voice that counts.”
Admittedly that was a young former member of the school council, so I think they had had that drummed into them by the older members last year!
And what of the pupils who aren’t class reps this time, or who didn’t get the leadership position which they were hoping for? What have they learnt? They have learnt patience, their moment will come, they have learnt how to deal with disappointment and they have learnt that it is ok to be upset, take comfort from your friends and then carry on and trust that the pupil leaders will listen to your ideas.
This sounds a bit idealistic but it was very true today…several pupils were very sad but in every case, others were there to say that everyone will have a turn and that leaders represent us, they are not better than us.
It’s a tricky time for the staff, we work tirelessly to help our pupils be happy and thrive on the opportunities we provide at school, we don’t want to see anyone upset.
However the pupils want to have pupil leaders, they want to have their say, they want to be part of the school and the decisions which shape it. I know that every staff member was astounded by the ideas that the children have had this week.
This school does not have pupils who waste time discussing having sweets at break, or making playtime twice as long, they think very hard about ideas that are realistic and could help everyone feel part of a team, that can help others in the world less fortunate and can help themselves learn new skills.
We have so many exciting things planned, just you wait until you hear about our new house competition, “I’m a pupil, get me out of here!” – all pupil ideas, pupil-led and it’s going to be fantastic!
Yes, I definitely think the staff learn as much as the pupils from pupil leadership, and long may it continue! We’re a team here at Rydal Penrhos and every pupil most definitely does count!
Mrs L Davies
Head of Prep
Stars of the Week
Rydal Penrhos is now able to offer socially distanced tours to prospective pupils and their families.