Planting the seeds of leadership early in Junior School
Leadership in the Junior School is an active demonstration of what is valued at Tara and the kind of attitudes the school community wishes to see developed in the girls:
- It’s authentic and student-centred because girls are doing real life tasks, with adults in a consultancy and facilitating, rather than controlling, role. Girls generate and propose ideas, and plan and implement events. This promotes independence and risk-taking.
- It’s inclusive because in Year 6, every girl has a vital role, that should it be removed, would lessen the pastoral and operational capacity of the school. The Leadership Teams in Year 6 meet a variety of needs, such as looking after events at the school, caring for new students, developing the performing arts, and assisting in the running of the technology, art room and library.
- It’s empowering because girl fills every leadership role. Often in schools, girls can be seen as ‘audience’ with boys as ‘actors’. In a girls’ school with a strong commitment to leadership such as Tara, we are agents to facilitate girls’ voices and creativity.
- It’s collaborative because it requires girls to work with and alongside others on projects.
- It inspires and supports younger students. The younger girls admire the opportunities the Year 6 girls experience as part of their leadership role. They anticipate the time when they will have those opportunities
We explicitly seek to teach the skills and attitudes necessary for a servant-hearted model of service to the School. It’s wonderful getting amongst the leadership culture in the Junior School.
Leadership in the Junior School is distinctive. Rather than a ‘delayed gratification’ view of leadership; that somehow everything we are doing now is not actually useful now, but may be in some indeterminate future, student leadership in the Junior School is viewed as a vital skill and experience, with benefits in the ‘right here’ and ‘right now’. Students trained in leadership are able to carry out a wide variety of self- and school- improvement projects. Student leadership is a great way to tap into student energy, to build self-respect and to create a sharing and caring school.
Every member of the Junior School staff seeks to meet the needs for the girls in our care. However there is something unique about student leaders planning and implementing action that will improve the life of their younger peers at school. Leadership does not just ‘happen’ at Tara. We explicitly seek to teach the skills and attitudes necessary for a servant-hearted model of service to the School. It’s wonderful getting amongst the leadership culture in the Junior School.
Every girl in the school has the opportunity to identify and develop her own leadership potential
Developing leadership potential in Senior School
Tara has a core purpose that is set out in the Strategic Plan 2011-2015:
“Our purpose is to be a Christian learning Community, characterised by excellence, which encourages and empowers girls to achieve and serve in a dynamic world.”
Senior School aims to have a student leadership programme in the school that is in line with our core purpose and gives very girl in the school the opportunity to identify and develop her own leadership potential. Leadership at Tara is open to all students with our senior leaders elected through a transparent and democratic process. Leaders are required to be inspirational role models.
With the increasing impetus that leadership is gaining globally, centres of excellence in leadership are being established in all sectors. For the young women of Tara leadership will be a key enabler as they move from school to tertiary education and beyond. With this in mind, Tara is working to bring in a programme in line with the Strategic Plan that will develop leadership skills from Year 7 through to Year 12. In order to implement this we have been working down from Year 12 and by the end of this year we hope to have reached Year 9, with programmes for Years 7 and 8 following next year.
Being adaptable is a key to good leadership so that as we implement new programmes we will be able to fine tune them each year to suit the changing needs of the young women and the environment in which we and they are operating.
This year there are 28 leaders in the leadership team, they include the Head Girl Deputy Head Girl, Head Boarder, Captains of Debating, Drama, Music and Sport, two heads of House for each of the four houses and 12 prefects with two in each of the following portfolios: Administration, Curriculum Enhancement, Faith and Justice, Student Engagement, Student Welfare as well as Technology and Communications.
In addition to the leadership team a group of non-elected leaders have formed the V8 (eight volunteers). These girls have chosen to use their talents to help and support the elected team but also to establish their own initiatives within the school. Greater recognition of the contribution of these girls will demonstrate that leadership at Tara is more than a badge.
All Year 12 students are regarded as leaders and we look to them to be the role models to which the junior students can aspire.
These girls are completing their Tara Diploma of Leadership. They have until the end of Term 1 to complete the Diploma if they wish to nominate for a senior leadership position. In order to complete this they have to reflect on the core purpose and values of the school. They then have to demonstrate respect, involvement, service, and endeavour within the school.
In Term 2 there will be opportunities to examine and develop leadership skills such as public speaking, problem solving, and empowering peers. Through these training sessions it is hoped that students will begin to initiate their own projects and take on an increasing role in supporting the year 12 students. They have the opportunity to stand for positions as Captains in Debating, Drama and Sport and there are opportunities coming in Visual Arts.
The Tara Diploma of leadership will be introduced to these students at the start of Term 2. They will also be invited to the Sapere Aude (Dare to be Wise) dinners. These provide an opportunity to attend dinners with professional women and to discuss serious contemporary issues.
In all their activities these girls should be looking to use their talents for the benefit of others. Whether they are in a classroom, sport team or have a part in the musical they can choose to lead or follow.
The vision for leadership at Tara is that it will empower all our students, promote integrity in all that they do, teach them to persevere to achieve their goals and that those goals will be for the common good not merely personal gain.