The vision of our leadership model
Westville Boys’ High School is committed to a system that encourages leadership through a service ethos based on mutual respect. The system also extends the opportunity to all the pupils to develop their leadership potential. This system encourages each and every Westville Boy to take on some degree of responsibility and develop skills which will equip our pupils with the capacity to face new challenges in varied facets of their lives during and after their time at Westville Boys’. This system enables our pupils to take control of their own lives, and that success will involve the capacity to think, to be imaginative, to work with others, to act decisively, to be accountable, and to accept responsibilities.
- Offer training and practical experience in developing leadership skills.
- Make leadership relevant and work hand in hand with the schools ethos and the surrounding social environments.
- Focus on leadership through service, and promote the concepts of responsibility, accountability, self-worth and discipline.
- Aim at allowing all our students to experience leadership thus empowering them and allowing them to develop as individuals.
The Four Pillars of Leadership:
- Maintenance of law and order
- Service Delivery
- Management of all of the above
Strategies for implementing our leadership model
- A team of approximately 55 Grade 12 learners are chosen to be Student Leaders, forming the core of the leadership system. They are contracted to fulfill duties directed at assisting staff in maintaining a safe and disciplined environment in the school, to lead service delivery through Task teams and to form the core of the School’s mentorship programme.
- All pupils from Grade 8 to Matrics are encouraged to get involved in service leadership through the various Task Teams. This allows them to learn and develop the essential skills of planning, leading, controlling and managing.
- All these Student Leaders and Task Team members share the responsibility for helping to manage and lead the school, and setting the example.
- Leadership forms a core component of the Life Orientation curriculum from grades 8 – 11
Grade 9 and 11 learners have the opportunity to attend external leadership camps in the third term. During this period the grade 10’s are required to fulfill a three day community service experience as part of their Life Orientation CASS assessment.
All Student Leaders participate in evaluation exercises in which their performance is assessed in relation to criteria specified in their contracts. These evaluations are self-assessments, peer assessments, and the relevant Staff member assessments. The Student Leaders are also given a full report based on these assessments and are given specific guidance where necessary. During the year if a Student Leader is not fulfilling his role to the required standard he can have his leadership status and duties terminated if he fails to respond to corrective training and mentoring.
Student Leaders and Task Team members are also eligible for service awards depending on the quality of service rendered.
The changing role of leadership in 21st century schools
An outline of why Westville Boys’ High School has moved away from a prefect system to a service driven leadership development model.
Latest research suggests that shared leadership is the most effective way of governing a school. It expands the number of people involved in making important decisions related to the school’s organization, operation, and academics. In general, shared leadership entails the creation of leadership roles or decision-making opportunities for teachers, staff members, students, parents, and community members. Shared leadership is widely seen as the better alternative to more traditional forms of school governance in which the principal or administrative team exercises executive authority and makes most governance decisions without necessarily soliciting advice, feedback, or participation from others in the school or community.
Despite changing times and demands of the 21st century, the prefect role (which is limited mainly to petty administrative duty such as recording the names of late arrivals and aspects of policing and controlling, largely through use of implied or direct fear and intimidation), remains the leadership model of choice in many schools. It is not easy to alter a status quo which has existed for centuries.
The prefect system creates a perception that only certain persons are responsible for control. Those who are not able to “control” are therefore sidelined as potential leaders. There is no development of a sense of collective responsibility, often suggested as a reason for the crime problem in the world today. Major aspects of modern leadership, including empowering others, inspiring others to follow, and leaving behind a sustainable legacy, are sidelined from this system.
The position of prefects in schools flourished for centuries, in times where blind obedience to rules and regulations was regarded as the norm. In the 21stcentury where the legitimate questioning and testing of boundaries at home, school and work is evident, the role of prefects through designated authority is becoming less effective. This has resulted in clashes with the authority of prefects, often with rather unsavoury outcomes. Such problems have seen recent legislation curtailing past practices of prefects in education. Press reports on the actions of prefects at certain schools, public and private, exceeding their legal powers are an indication of contemporary intolerance of past practices. Further, several business leaders in influential positions greet the term ‘prefect’ with increased scepticism in these changing times, because the implication is that the job entails simply the ability to be in control.
Other approaches have to be explored.
There is an increasing demand by both business and tertiary education institutions for schools to cover the aspects of leadership through service and empowerment in their testimonials. This does not necessarily mean the type of duty the prefect performed has to be abandoned – it merely suggests it is no longer the central purpose of a developmental leadership model.
Principles of the current WBHS Leadership Model include:
- A team of Grade 12 learners are chosen to be Student Leaders, forming the core of the leadership system. These young men guide the development and running of a service led model of leadership, including fulfilling the traditional prefect role.
- All pupils from Grade 8 to Matrics are encouraged to get involved in leadership through the various Task Teams. The idea of serving others thus becomes an integral part of the general school ethos.
- All these Student Leaders and Task Team members share the responsibility for helping to manage and lead the school, and setting the example that reinforces the notion that modern leaders have followers rather than subordinates.
The WBHS Leadership Model runs on four basic service pillars:
- Service in the interests of the school population through the LRC, as stipulated by legislation.
- Service as a class mentor to instil tradition, offer peer guidance and counselling, and assist classes maintain a standard of appearance and personal organisation,
- Service through running or playing a leading role in a Task Team which includes planning, leading, organising and controlling the approximately 400 boys formally involved in Task Teams offering invaluable services to the school,
- Service through assisting in maintaining a controlled and safe school environment, including through the duties the role of prefect was limited to.
In a service leadership model such as this, there is a need for a wide range of personalities and skills. Everyone from the sport jock to the more culturally or academically inclined can find a viable leadership role in such a system. The real strength of the system lies in the idea that service leadership supports the notion that “strength comes from diversity” – an ideal central to our Constitution.
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