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“Inspiring Young Leaders” by Ingrid Clarke, Head of Senior Primary

“The preparation, promotion and inclusion of a student leadership program positively contributes to school culture and student development.” (Lavery & Neidhart, 2003; Myers, 2005)

Matthew Flinders Anglican College acknowledges the positive benefits of student leadership programs and offers leadership opportunities for students from Year 3 to Year 12. We are committed to implementing effective wellbeing and leadership programs to enable our graduates to possess leadership competencies to empower others, communicate and collaborate well, and have the capacity to make significant and ethically grounded decisions (Strategic Plan 2018-2022).

Research in the area of student leadership informs us that the more student leaders have both opportunities to be leaders and to develop their leadership skills, the more they engage in each of Posner’s following five leadership practices.

Posner (2012) identifies specific behaviours and actions that students report using when they are at their “personal best as leaders”. These behaviours are common to all successful leaders and are categorised into five leadership practices:
•    Model the Way: Clarify values by finding your voice and affirming shared ideals; and set the example by aligning actions with shared values.
•    Inspire a Shared Vision: Envision the future by imagining exciting and ennobling possibilities; and enlist others in a common vision by appealing to shared aspirations.
•    Challenge the Process: Search for opportunities by seizing the initiative and by looking outward for innovative ways to improve; and experiment and take risks by constantly generating small wins and learning from experience.
•    Enable Others to Act: Foster collaboration by building trust and facilitating relationships; and strengthen others by increasing self-determination and developing competence.
•    Encourage the Heart: Recognise contributions by showing appreciation for individual excellence; and celebrate the values and victories by creating a spirit of community.

The above leadership practices are taught both within and beyond the Flinders classroom in the learning environment, across The Arts and cultural pursuits, Music, Sport and in co-curricular activities. We seek to engage ‘student voice’, valuing the role of the student in their own learning and in their contribution to school decision making related to review processes, new initiatives and change.

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Last week, the Senior Primary sub-school celebrated a week of leadership. The Semester 1 Staff and Student Council (SSC) representatives and the Library Monitors were presented with their badges. The Year 6 students participated in a Kokoda Leadership Challenge under the facilitation of Mr Damon Joseph (Character Builders). The students engaged in bootcamp-style, team-building activities that focused on ensuring “no-one was left behind”. Team members were inspired to encourage one another in moments of challenge and to try their personal best for the benefit of the team. The skills of group problem solving, overcoming challenges and leading by encouraging others continued to be the focus on Friday at  the SCIPHA Leadership Day.

At our Senior Primary Sub-School Assembly the Years 4-6 students were inspired by the wisdom of our guest speaker, Harrison Gentile, Flinders’ College Captain. Harrison reflected on his leadership journey and his growth as a leader. He encouraged the students to:
1.    be the best version of themselves.
2.    balance their school work, sport, music, friends and family time and always make time to have FUN and enjoy the process.
3.    believe they can!

Harrison drew some of his leadership inspiration from nineteenth century poet, Walter D. Wintle, who wrote “Thinking”. The following lines from this poem capture the importance of leaders believing in themselves.

“If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost
For out of the world we find,
Success begins with a fellow’s will
It’s all in the state of mind
…for the man who wins
Is the man WHO THINKS HE CAN!”

Harrison’s message and the Year 6 leadership motto for 2020, inspired by the words of John Maxwell, “Know the way, Show the way, Go the way”, have set the direction for our Year 6 students.  Knowing the way is only the beginning of their journey, it’s a stage when they will clarify values, inspire a shared vision, plan and set goals. In Showing the way they will be role models for others and assist in maintaining a school culture where it is safe to challenge the process or ideas and gain greater understanding. Going the way will see our young leaders support each other to believe they can as they experience their leadership journey this year.

When our Primary School Leaders reflected on their leadership and what had inspired them over the past week they imparted the following messages to their peers and the aspiring young Primary School Leaders who will follow them:

“ As a leader, know when to step forward and when to step back.” – Nate

“Even if you think you can’t, have a go. You are guaranteed to miss 100% of the opportunities you don’t try.” – Alana

Our young leaders are certainly inspirational and have grown their leaders skills through their participation in leadership opportunities and the wide range of activities available to them. Parents, I urge you to encourage your child to have a go, try something they haven’t experienced before and move outside of their comfort zone so they too can develop the confidence to one day lead others.

Ingrid Clarke | Head of Senior Primary

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