Why Seito Kai?
Our overall approach to leadership has been evolving, in both our thinking and practice over the past couple of years. This year the approach to student leadership has been far more purposeful, engaging, active and evident in the senior classrooms (Year 6 Government, Year 5 Leadership Teams and Year 4 Kindness Project). This change has been well considered, well researched and implemented with great consideration by staff, always with the child as the focus.
The Year 5 Leadership program has been particularly effective and has been the springboard for embarking on a new student leadership journey. Several of the projects will continue into 2019 and will engage a greater number of students with the same interest and passion.
Staff from Year 4-6 have explicitly encouraged children to investigate qualities, skills, attributes, efforts/achievements etc of great leaders. The children have a sound understanding of what it means to be a leader. They have applied this knowledge as they have started ‘spreading their wings’ and developing their projects. It has been remarkable and a joy to observe throughout this year. Our current Year 5 children are an incredible cohort and their leadership throughout the year has been astonishing. They are strong, articulate and wise.
To briefly explain, the following is an outline of our approach with the Year 5 children this year:
Curriculum links: Humanities: Civics & Citizenship, History, Science, Technologies, Design and Technologies
Capabilities: Critical and Creative Thinking, Ethical, Intercultural & Personal and Social
The children started the year investigating and researching good leadership practices and qualities (including the role of the UN in leading the world to a better future). They looked at the UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals, aimed to provide a way of achieving a better future.
The children identified 6 school goals and selected groups within which to work. Roles were assigned and actions developed, all designed to bring about a better school, helping to play a role in improving the world for the future. The role of democracy in creating modern Australia was investigated when learning about the gold rush and Eureka Stockade (Year 5 camp involvement).
In Term 3, the children used their knowledge of science and technology to identify and create solutions to problems affecting the world (endangered species, homelessness etc). Their role in being active leaders was further developed through learning about Australia’s Government in Term 4, including how leaders work together around common issues. An understanding of leadership was further developed when the children learnt about influencing the opinion and decision making process within our democracy. The children were also supported in identifying issues for action and being able to explain them when writing school leadership applications. They developed a strong understanding that to improve, making a positive change is demonstrating leadership.
The traditional role of School Captain no longer meets the needs of our children, as it is too limiting. We have active, passionate children who deserve the right to lead and work with teams of children to create a school/community/world that is better than the one we have today. We have enabled doors to open, for our children to have voice and agency. What we are offering is an even greater role, one that is richer and more diverse, and will provide greater opportunities for a larger number of children. It is not only those on the Seito Kai that I am referring to, but also the children who will be engaged in the projects each team member/s develop and lead.
I am aware that there has been a query about the child who was not shortlisted – in fact she was shortlisted, but not interviewed. She had been interviewed at an earlier stage. The shortlisting process involved gathering feedback from a vast number of staff. Many staff, for a number of reasons, recommended the child. We are democratic in our approach and as such, all information was carefully considered in selecting the 10 children.
Jo O’Malley and I have spent time with the children who were not appointed to the committee. We congratulated them and thanked them on their efforts and spoke in the most positive light about further leadership opportunities. 2019 will offer many opportunities for children to take on leadership roles across the school. Some children in Year 2 who are keen to lead a project next year have already presented their written plan in detail to me. These are exciting times!
We offer a vast number of opportunities for our children eg. State School Spectacular, travelling to Japan, sporting teams, Space2b roles … the list goes on and on. Not every child is successful in getting a particular role/opportunity. This is part of life and we know we are working with precious young people and that is why we support them, nurture them and focus on building resilience.
Children selected for our inaugural Seito Kai were solely chosen based on the child’s voice, not gender, nor relationships that they may have with each other. We view every child as an individual. This we have done for many years. We did not appoint the traditional 2 girls/2 boys as school captains. This was changed by listening to the voices of the school captains who were on an interviewing panel. They stated that they needed to focus on the person, not gender. Appointment to the Seito Kai was also not based on the child’s parent/s. This information is irrelevant. I state this because I have had feedback from 2 community members who raised these last points. Again, our focus is just on the voice of the child.
Transparency of every change, of each process can also take the element of surprise out of a situation. Rather than disclosing all, the ‘newness’ (alternative approach) was only meant to excite, inspire and please. The process was the same.
As mentioned above, the change in student leadership will provide for greater opportunity and I believe the model will continue to evolve as we listen to the voices of our children.
Thank you to the many cherubs and parents who have expressed gratitude and excitement about the school being so visionary and offering greater opportunities. I hope the information provided answers questions that some community member may have.
We strive to create a learning environment that is in the best interest of all children. I am excited about next year and the vision we have for the children of SKPS.