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Head's Blog - Leadership

By Paul Dwyer, Head

Isla Thouless 1The weeks ahead will see our new Sixth Form Leadership Team assume on their roles and take the helm across a range of areas and activities throughout the school. This is never an easy time of year; the decisions surrounding each role are incredibly difficult given the strength of all who put their names forward, while the excitement about working with a new team is always tempered slightly by the heavy heart with which the previous team move on.

The dynamic that comes with a new leadership team is always a privilege to observe. Each team will forge their paths in different ways and with a variety of strengths and ideas, but always following the same goal of enhancing the opportunities for all members of our school community.

Whenever I talk with our students about the leaders they look up to, they will often mention examples much closer to home than one might expect. Parents, siblings, family members or friends will be far more common responses than those in the political spotlight or positions of authority.

It is heartening in so many ways, because it highlights the many wonderful examples that students are shown every day in their own households and immediate lives.

The characteristics of care, attentiveness, empathy and compassion are what they value most, and this is significant because the examples of leadership in wider society available to young people today perhaps do not showcase these traits. 

This disconnect, putting emphasis on those who shout louder, who revel in lack of empathy or pithy solutions to difficult situations, means that the wider ambitions of our students when it comes to making a difference in the world are unnecessarily curtailed.

Worse still, the discourse surrounding those who do showcase another way; leaders such as Sanna Marin, Jacinda Ardern or Gretchen Whitmer, highlights only more starkly the additional barriers that young leaders might face. The vitriol that follows the decisions made by women such as these, or the language that has surrounded decisions to step down, as with Ardern, or following a loss of office, as with Marin, is not helpful. Such responses provide only more fuel to the argument that the only good leader is one who is immune to the feelings of others, or who must simply show a thick skin to those who seek to tear them down. And this is not, it would seem, what our young people value most. 

If we are frustrated with leadership that we see in wider walks of life, or the discourse that surrounds those in responsibility, it is contingent on us to model high expectations and show our young people what it is we truly value. Our environment at school is not just about providing a safe space for students, but furthermore a brave space. A space where our students can face challenge and grow as leaders, knowing that their voice will be heard and that their development is at the centre of all that we do. It is through this support and this environment that when their moment comes, they will be able to assume power with confidence, empathy and care and be the leader they would want to look up to themselves.

 

The portrait is the work of art student Isla in Year 11 using graphite on paper. Isla has drawn her sister sat on Christmas Steps.

 

 

 

Date Posted: 28 April, 2023

Articles for: Sixth Form, Senior

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