If you are reading this article, it means that you are a head student at your school, or are considering applying for the position. If you are the latter then this article will be helpful when you come to the interview process, as the panel may want to hear your ideas and thoughts about improvements around the school. If you are already a head girl/boy, then this article can assist you in coming to decisions about your school to make it even better!
There are a multitude of different ways you can improve your school- to ‘improve’ doesn’t necessarily mean instantly boosting the academics or broadening the school site. It could be as easy (yet important) as ensuring that all students feel welcome or encouraging more fundraisers for different charities supported by your school. On the whole, remember to be inclusive as possible of all the opinions held by the student body, as well as seeing potential in aspects of the school yourself.
This article will take you through just some of your options, and will hopefully inspire you to tailor the ideas to your school!
1. Encourage More Eco-friendly Activities
Prominently in the year of 2018, many pupils across the country took a day of school to attend one of the many mass climate change protests, displaying their opinions on the government’s lack of actions towards tackling climate change.
This itself makes it clear that the majority of our generation are not only passionate about battling climate change but also understanding the impact that we have and how it will affect our future, and the future of generations to come. For this reason, making your school more environmentally friendly is definitely an idea for you to consider.
Implementing more eco-friendly activities into the school can be done in a variety of different ways. This can include putting measures in place to help educate more students about the wider impact that our carbon footprints can have, and whilst encouraging simple tasks such as saving water and turning off lights when classrooms are not in use, as a head student, you could consider extending the idea to the wider community – for example, carrying out litter picks in your local area.
2. Create a Homework Help Club
It is scientifically proven that the learning-by-teaching method is highly effective in helping students remember and understand information in exams, so why not implement it into the students’ daily lives?
Creating a homework help club/system will allow older students to consolidate their subject knowledge and develop their teaching skills by helping out at a homework club. This will also be beneficial to the younger students as it allows them to explore work outside of the classroom and connect with their peers.
It can also provide a safe space to students who perhaps struggle in a class environment and allow them to flourish mentally and academically by enabling them to consolidate work with a mentor between lessons. Additionally, by creating a working area surrounded with other students, the club may appeal to more as it is a place not only for socialising but for meeting new people who you may not usually interact with on a daily basis.
3. Create a Medical Society
Everybody, especially aspiring medical students, knows how tough the application process to medical schools can be. Therefore, establishing a medical club/society will allow extra support (whether this be academically or socially) to those who intend to pursue the career.
The medical society can also be a place where students exchange ideas and tips to help each other in getting into medical school as well as discussing and debating current medical news topics which will help during university interviews. You could also organise small courses, such as a basic first aid course, to enable students to expand their practical knowledge before they choose medicine as their career.
4. Get Involved with More Fundraisers
Getting involved with fundraisers is a great way to fuel school spirit whilst contributing to wider society, including local and national charities. Not only does this allow students to have a recreational day away from academic work, but it helps to educate students about challenges that others may face.
This can include sponsored events, including sports, bake sales or a raffle. Getting the students involved in deciding on a charity to donate to will allow students to independently educate themselves.
Even though it is not guaranteed that your school will have a day dedicated to fundraising during teaching time, these activities can occur out of school hours, and still be just as beneficial.
5. Encourage a Healthier Lifestyle
Obesity is becoming an increasingly alarming issue in the UK and considering that children spend the majority of their day in school, it falls as part of the school’s responsibility to ensure that students are healthy and happy.
This can be done by encouraging more sport or exercise, for example making sure that students participate in a form of fitness at least 3 times a week- this may be especially beneficial where the school has a gym or space where students can go to exercise in their free time.
This not only helps with physical health but is a great way to de-stress and improve concentration during lessons. Of course, you may not be able to alter the amount of exercise that individuals are able to do, but making sure that students are educated about staying healthy can sometimes be just as useful.
6. Offer Support to GCSE Students
The GCSE exams are one of the main points of our school careers, and it is clear that many students across the country tend to feel the pressure as the exams approach. Therefore, as a head girl/boy, you may wish to implement more support for students who will be sitting their GCSE exams.
Whether this be guided subject review sessions, exam technique workshops or even inviting a speaker from outside school, such as Elevate, to hold an assembly on revision strategies. This will not only show the Year 11’s that you empathise with what they may be going through, but it will also reassure the younger years that they have nothing to stress about when the time comes.
Students who have already done their GCSE exams can volunteer to help those who are struggling with revision, which also builds a tight-knit student community.
7. Offer Support to Students Choosing GCSE’s and A-levels
Similarly to offering resources to students about to sit their exams, it is important to ensure that students feel confident and comfortable when choosing their GCSE or A-Level options.
This may be different for each student as some may have a detailed plan of their future whereas others may have no idea what they want to do. Despite this variety, by offering the support to all, the student community will feel comfortable and well-informed to make the important decision.
This support may come in the form of subject taster lessons or even careers fairs – students will be able to check the requirements for certain jobs that appeal to them and this may weigh in on their final decision.
8. Include More Mental Health Support
One in six school-aged children suffer from a mental health disorder and this has alarmingly risen over the past few years. It is so important that schools recognize this and facilitate the needs and provide the support for these (and all) students.
As a head girl/boy, you can aim to set up some form of pastoral service if there isn’t one already, as well as getting involved with external organisations such as Beat and Mind, to educate students about mental health and help prevent mental illnesses.
Speaking out is an important aspect of battling a mental health disorder and as a head girl/boy it is your responsibility to ensure that the school environment is a safe one where students feel like they can be open.
The implementation of a mental support system may take the form of a school nurse or pastoral teacher who is available to all students at any time of the day. You may wish to gather a survey about the student body’s ideas and attitudes towards this to ensure that you are choosing the correct option, and consider any alternative ideas put forward.
9. Start an Exchange Programme- E.G., A School eBay
As many of us already know, the cost of school essentials can amount to a lot. Perhaps creating a school “eBay” system could help students in purchasing items such as textbooks, calculators or even stationary for reduced prices which would prove beneficial to many students.
This is a simple way to make the lives of students at your school easier. Guidance on what equipment, revision books and resources they need could prove to be invaluable.
- Use a Student Vote – Get Speakers into Your School
If you wish to broaden student knowledge and understanding of the world outside school, you could consider taking a weekly/monthly student vote to decide on a speaker who comes in to give an assembly.
This will mean that students get to choose an external speaker/company who can come to school and give talks about a range of subjects which may interest and inspire the students. Giving students the ability to choose who this is (from a range of options) could be incredibly beneficial in making these assemblies or workshops more valuable for a larger range of students.
11. Consider the Catering
This goes hand-in-hand with maintaining a healthy lifestyle; send out a survey about the school catering and take into account any feedback from the student community.
Ensure that the meals are healthy and nutritious whilst also being appealing to the students. Possibly incorporate more culturally diverse meals into the menu which can help students learn about a wide variety of different customs as well as catering to the student community as a whole.
Remember, there may be limits to the power you have with this (many schools receive catering from external companies), but running extracurriculars where people are educated about the kind of diverse range of food they can eat to be healthy could be incredibly useful.
12. Pair Up Year 7s with Letters Home to Year 6s
To help improve the adaption process for the new Year 6s who are soon going to be part of your school, consider forming close bonds between the current Year 7s by creating a buddy system.
This not only develops communication skills amongst the student body but also reassures any worries that the current Year 6s may have about starting secondary school and therefore makes their transition a lot calmer and more comfortable.
The buddy system could work in a way where the Year 7s and 6s has contact with each other e.g., via email or even letters. This allows better integration between year groups and encourages a variety of different people to mix.
13. Breakfast Club
Whilst it is assumed that a large proportion of students eat breakfast at home, there are some students who are simply unable to do so for whatever reason. It is scientifically proven that eating breakfast gives you a “mental edge” and a longer attention span, increasing productivity and learning during the school day.
It is therefore an unfair disadvantage to those who may not be able to obtain the nutrition that they need for the school day, and so the formation of a breakfast club that runs before school time could be vital in ensuring each student has the same opportunities and are not being hindered by something that is out of their control.
The breakfast club will allow a variety of students to interact with each other, regardless of their year group. This means that they are able to access everything that they need before the school day begins. Creating a club like this will show that as a head girl/boy you are concerned about the wellbeing of all the students and not only the majority.
14. Provide Laptops or Computer Access to All Students
As you progress higher up in the school, you will find that the possession of a laptop or device becomes almost a necessity. Even in cases where it is not essential to have access to a laptop at home, being able to access the internet through some form of technology can be extremely beneficial to students (especially those studying and revising for exams!).
Perhaps you are in a position where you can set up a system for borrowing school laptops, though this won’t be the case for all head boys and girls. If this is not possible at your school, maybe offering access to computer labs throughout breaks in the school day, and after lessons end would be incredibly useful for those who do not have access to a computer (or a quiet place to work!) at home.
15. Run a Culture Week
As a head student, it is important that you cater the needs of all the students in the school and therefore a method of cultural appreciation would allow students from all backgrounds to feel represented and comfortable.
Setting up an event such as a ‘Culture week’ could give students the opportunity to learn about countries across the world. Perhaps you could add food options to the canteen menu (just for a week!) so that each day there were dishes from different countries for students to try. You could even set up displays around the school to showcase interesting information about other cultures, or maybe provide a short assembly each morning where this information is shared.
However, you choose to go about it, broadening students’ understandings of different cultures is a vital role of a school, and a culture week is a fun way of enabling students to learn about other parts of the world.