St Michael’s grows tomorrows leaders

Year 6 students Josh Maher, Grace Gillies, Adam Sidhu and Casey FraccaroInspired by a conference a teacher has launched a program to prepare Primary students for leadership.

A Year 2 teacher had her whole approach to student leadership transformed at the education conference when she heard about a university student based activity.

The St Michael’s Catholic Primary School Lane Cove Coordinator of Student Welfare and Wellbeing, Lisa Netting, said its aim was to tap into what students were thinking by giving them a voice.

The school’s new project called “Students Speak up and Speak Out” draws on ideas from the university exercise that empowers student leaders by giving a voice to students who can’t speak for themselves. Mrs Netting began by brainstorming 16 of her school’s Year 5 and Year 6 students.

“Teachers and parents are always telling students what they will do, so we decided to ask students what they wanted,” said Mrs Netting.

Mrs Netting said the most transformative aspect of that activity was that students realised nothing can be too small. A small idea can grow.

“Students all have a voice and we wanted to tap into this. We want the student stakeholders to make it a really good learning environment for them.” One of the key issues raised by the discussion was the need to raise the profiles of the houses and the need to be more inclusive of students in all activities. These have been put into a Google survey that’s going to be presented to six students from each class.

“It will find out if other students agree with what the group found and how we can make the school culture and morale better,” said Mrs Netting.

Josh Maher, Year 6 school vice-captain, said he saw his role as speaking to other students about leadership and what they expected from school leaders.

Another founding project member, Grace Gillies, a Year 6 house captain, said she hoped the initiative would bring new ideas and inspire different activities.

Mrs Netting said there was an emphasis on including students who are not necessarily interested in sport to be able to earn points for their house through activities such as chess or a read-a-thon. She said if the school tried to involve students who didn’t usually take part in school activities it would help support leadership because they would have a better understanding of what students want. “We’ll re-group after the answers are collected, the student leaders will have to sell the findings of the survey messages to the school,” said Mrs Netting.

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