Student Leadership Opportunities | Highcliffe School

Student Leadership Opportunities

At Highcliffe School, it is really important that all students feel they are represented and valued. Not only is it a fundamental tenet of the Department for Education’s Guidance on promoting British values in schools (2014) that "all pupils within the school have a voice that is listened to", but it is also an inherent part of our school values. 

We recognise that “young people involved in participative work benefit in a range of different ways.” (DfE: Listening to and involving children and young people: 2014) As well as having a material impact on the school experience for themselves and other students, being a student representative leads to “increased confidence, self-respect, competence and an improved sense of responsibility” (Ibid). Whatever students might go on to do in the future, participating in the Student Leadership team offers a vast range of experiences which help to prepare students for the wider world. 

We want to make sure that student leadership at Highcliffe offers students a fulfilling and rewarding experience, with real opportunities to make change. Therefore, we introduced a new model of student leadership across the school from September 2022. This is designed to be a more consistent, inclusive and purposeful approach, designed to support students to "become valuable and fully rounded members of society who treat others with respect and tolerance, regardless of background." (DfE: Guidance on promoting British values in schools: 2014). 

This opportunity is highly valued by students as an “opportunity to make an actual difference”, a way “to make positive connections between year groups” and to “improve communication and confidence.”

Here are just some of the things that the Student Leadership team achieved in 2022-23:

  • Over £700 for charity raised         
  • Launch of the Highcliffe Inclusivity Association      
  • Programme of Student Communi-teas – wellbeing support for exam students       
  • Trial of a Silent Study area for Main School         
  • Removal of year zones outside 
  • Implementation of dark mode on MyHighcliffe        
  • Mental Health Awareness Week wellbeing activities leading to the creation of a new wellbeing club to start in September 2023          
  • Neurodiversity Celebration Week activities          
  • Provision of student voice for both external and internal stakeholders ·        
  • Representation at a wide range of school events          
  • Changes of wording on letters and forms          
  • Competition judging         
  • Sharing of feedback on areas of concern around school   

What does the student leadership model look like? 

After consultation with a range of students and staff, this is the model that was designed to enable students to really contribute to the development of the school and have opportunities to gain valuable skills. As you can see in the diagram, student representatives in years 7-12 are involved not just in their year group (as with the previous year councils) but also across the whole school in specific cross-school focus groups. 

The idea behind this is to maintain the existing opportunities for year group focuses but also to increase the opportunities for students to work with other year groups and role models, as well as to engender change for the whole student body. All student representatives are issued with a yellow lanyard, and appear on our Student Leadership posters around school. 

It is also designed to raise the level of responsibility for Year 12 student representatives and to offer a range of experiences which help to prepare students for the wider world, such as project management, working with a diverse range of people, leading change, promoting oneself and collaboration. 

Feedback from the 2022-23 student representatives has been used to help review this new approach, and, after reflecting on this feedback, minor amendments have been made in response.   

How do the Year Group Teams (Years 7-12) work? 

These are similar to the old year teams. It was important to maintain the opportunity for the different year groups to focus on year specific concerns, but also to make the experience more consistent across year groups. 

They run in a similar way to how they have previously, discussing year group issues and actions, working with the Head or Deputy Head of Achievement, or Head of Year, and collecting and sharing information year-wide as needed.  

  • There are 15 representatives from each year group (7-12), not two per tutor group. This is designed to enable those students who really want to get involved to do so, regardless of who else in their tutor group also wants to.
  • Students are elected through an anonymous, democratic process (see below) to try to remove voting based on social status or friendship, and to encourage all students to feel comfortable about nominating themselves. This is something students said this year that they really valued.
  • The main school year group teams are run by the Year 12 student representatives, in order to raise their level of responsibility and visibility, but also to share their valuable experience gained from going through years 7-11. Year 12 student representatives are given training on how to run and minute meetings, as well as in working with younger students.
  • The Year 12 year group team meet on a fortnightly basis in a timetabled slot. The main school year group teams aim to meet once every four school weeks, during tutor time.
  • Student representatives will have scheduled opportunities to communicate with, collect ideas and suggestions, and feedback to their peers. There is also now a “Contact Student Leadership” button on MyHighcliffe. 

How will the Cross School Teams (Years 7-12) work?  

In addition to the year group teams, additional groups have been created to encourage cross-school connections and make real change. There are three of these groups, each with a different focus: Environment & Community, Health & Wellbeing, Charity & Fundraising. These focuses have been slightly altered from last year, in response to feedback from the leadership teams. 

Unlike the year group teams which are more focused on specific year-related issues, the purpose of these cross-school teams is to create, work on and deliver specific projects within the school. Projects will be decided on in discussion with the supporting member of staff for each group. 

Each group is run by the Year 12 student representatives (with staff support) and include representatives from each year group. Year 12 student representatives are given training on how to project manage, and are supported by the Sixth Form Study Mentor. Students, once elected to the year group team, will be able to nominate themselves for the cross-school group they would like to be involved with. One Year 12 representative from each cross-school team is elected as the head of that group. 

These groups meet each half term in one of the Year 12 year group team’s timetabled sessions to create and work on their project, allocating tasks to members, sharing progress and deciding on next steps.  

What about Year 13 opportunities?  

The Year 13 team remains separate from the other year teams and the cross-school teams. This is to enable them to keep their focus on the priorities appropriate to their last year of school. Not just the hard work required to complete their studies at Highcliffe, but also the well-deserved and important events marking their transition to the wider world. Students are able to get involved with leavers’ priorities (e.g. prom, year book) on a voluntary basis. 

How does application and voting work?  

Students in years 7-12 apply through an online form which includes a brief statement about why they would make a good student representative, and some guidance is provided to support students with writing these statements, an “opportunity to learn how to argue and defend points of view” (Ibid). 

On election day for each of the year groups in years 7-12, all students and tutors are able to vote for candidates based on their statement alone; this is anonymous for both the candidates and the voters. There are fifteen representative positions for each year group, not restricted by tutor group. 

We use the single transferable voting system; this choice and the reasons for it is explained to students as part of the election process, to help their “understanding of how citizens can influence decision-making through the democratic process" (Ibid). 

Year 13 students who wish to volunteer for the Leavers’ team apply straight to their Head of Year.  

 We want students to apply who really want to make a difference; we want a range of voices to be represented through student leadership.     

If you have any questions about the student leadership opportunities at Highcliffe School, please contact Mrs Keyworth, Assistant Headteacher.

    Owned by: RKH | Last Published: 19/07/2023 09:32:32 | Next Update: N/A