That time of year is upon us. The election of a new head student team. Depending on which school you attend, the time is commencing where the old head student team steps down and offers up their places to a team of new individuals. The various methods of voting will differ between schools, however, ultimately, students and teachers alike will be searching for a strong leader who they feel will improve the school community. If you are at the age of applying to become a head boy or girl, then you may be wondering whether you are the ideal candidate for the role. This article will provide you with guidance and information about the top five qualities that a head girl/boy should possess.
Disclaimer: this article is subjective as different schools will have different opinions on what qualities make a good candidate for the role of head girl/boy, however I hope this article will give you a rough guide!
A good head girl/boy should be a strong leader with the ability to listen to not only those who shout the loudest, but every voice in the student body. Communication is clearly an important skill to have, in order to pass on ideas of the students for them to become a reality. As a head girl/boy, you will most likely be accompanied by deputies with whom you need to work alongside as a team, and therefore a good candidate should understand the importance of being part of something bigger than themselves. Finally, optimism and respect come hand-in-hand when it comes to being a role model to other students.
The above briefly summarizes the main qualities of a head girl/boy but continue reading this article to help you understand what you can do if you are considering applying for the role, to make your application the best it can possibly be!
This goes without saying, but any role to do with being the head of an organisation (which will be useful later on in life when applying for jobs) leans on the value of leadership. It can be defined as the “art of motivating people to act to achieve a common goal”. In terms of being a head girl/boy, this ‘common goal’ could be something as simple as making the school more environmentally friendly or raising money for a charity event. Regardless of the outcome, it is important that as a head girl/boy, you develop the skill of leadership to allow not only yourself but the community around you to flourish.
Good leadership doesn’t just mean listening to the individuals that have the most prominent voices in the student community, but also taking the time to encourage and listen to the quieter ones – this means that nobody is excluded, and any decisions made are agreed upon across the most amount of people, so this ensures that you are representing the student body as best as you can.
Whilst this may seem daunting to some applicants, do not let this hold you back! Leadership is a skill that can only really be improved when put into practice so if you think that your leadership skills are not strong, do not let this deter you from applying for the role. To help you develop this skill, consider the previous leadership roles which you may have unknowingly filled, for example coaching at a sports club or in scouting.
With this value being linked closely with leadership, communication is a vital quality needed for a leadership role such as head girl/boy. It means that you are able to pass on students’ ideas and essentially voice the student body which is arguably one of the main roles of being a head student. Whilst communicating frequently with students, you also need to be able to communicate well with members of staff and your fellow deputies to ensure that everyone is able to contribute to a specific idea in order to make it the best it can be. Being a head girl/boy may also mean that you need to speak during whole school assemblies and therefore it is important that you are able to connect and relate with the audience that you are presenting to, in order to make it a more interactive experience for all.
Communication doesn’t necessarily mean talking all the time; it can involve reaching out to those who don’t always speak up – the more students that you can empathise with, the better leader you will be – it means that all voices are heard and appreciated. Good communication can also be achieved through media including a school magazine or school news, or even non-verbally by being open and friendly to approach.
This means that the students will put greater trust in you and are therefore more likely to feel comfortable to raise issues directly to you, which makes the communication process run a lot more smoothly. Good communication means that you can easily place yourself in other people’s shoes and vice versa, which makes general understanding a lot more free-flowing and allows genuine assurance between students.
Similarly, to leadership, communication is a quality that gets better the more it is used, however it occurs more naturally compared with leadership as it is something that we inevitably do every day. If you previously were part of a club or society where you were in charge of organising an event, that would have required a lot of different communication skills, you won’t be a stranger to this skill. If you haven’t participated in any of the latter, don’t stress yourself- you can easily volunteer to be part of a social event or club where communication skills can be improved.
Typically, the selection of a head girl/boy is accompanied by the selection of two deputies whom the head student works closely alongside. Therefore, it is evident that teamwork certainly cannot be dismissed as an unimportant quality when it comes to the application process. It allows better relationships to be formed between the team members and thus enables the ‘working environment’ to be more positive. Regardless of what career you pursue, teamwork will be inevitable and therefore practicing good teamwork early on will not only be beneficial to you as a head girl/boy, but also when you get a job and are introduced to the workplace.
Teamwork can be defined as “the collaborative effort of a group to achieve a common goal” – in the context of the student community, the ‘collaborative effort’ comes with good communication to encourage students to participate and contribute as a team to better an aspect of school life. With regards to the ‘common goal’ described above, that is essentially the well-formulated idea that may have started off as just a thought in the mind of one of the students in the community. It is through good leadership and communication that a student should be able to speak up, and finally through good teamwork and collaboration between students and the head student team, that their idea is finalized into an action which is then undertaken to improve the school.
Teamwork can be demonstrated in many different ways, through extracurriculars for example. If you are part of a sports club then you regularly display teamwork when competing, or if you are part of an orchestra or choir then working as a team to practice involves improving your teamwork.
As you progress up through the school, the initial optimism displayed during year seven is likely to have ‘slightly’ faded. However, it is an important quality when it comes to taking up a leadership role such as head girl/boy. Optimism may seem less significant than the other qualities mentioned in this article, however it is very important because it establishes a positive atmosphere and encourages participation. It essentially goes hand-in-hand with leadership, communication and teamwork because they all require a source of motivation and meaning, and therefore being optimistic about different ideas ensures that everyone feels valued. This means more progress can be made to improve the school community.
Optimism means that you are more likely to be resilient and take a reflective approach on failures or setbacks, which is a very important quality for a leader as it means that the whole team is inspired to persevere, which is a core value in any learning environment.
Respect is something we may not consider when it comes to a role as highly regarded as head girl/boy however it is very crucial as we progress higher and move into the workplace. Respect not only towards staff members but also fellow students ensure that there is a common understanding and that you are open to suggestions which helps to develop a close-knit student body.
Respect shown towards the deputy team allows a better environment for teamwork and therefore increased productivity. As a head girl/boy, as outlined previously, you have a duty to ensure that every student feels represented in the decision that the school makes and therefore respect towards each and every student, including their ideas as well as their beliefs makes the student community the most inclusive that it can be.