Being a school captain or holding another leadership position can be a huge step for many students. Many school captains and other student leaders feel out of their depth, particularly in the first two school terms. There are five very practical ways a school can support its student leadership team.

  1. Hold an Induction Program to prepare them for the year ahead.
  2. Form a leadership team to promote collaboration.
  3. Meet regularly for reflection and review.
  4. Conduct scenario training for problem-solving
  5. Introduce mentoring to accelerate learning and magnify support.


1. Hold an Induction Program to prepare them for the year ahead.

Let’s be clear. Sending school captains and leaders to an external leadership event at the start of the year, may be a great way to motivate, but it’s no substitute for a teacher-lead, in-school Induction Program.

An effective Induction Program prepares leaders for their roles; helps them understand their strengths and gives them and helps them develop their unique leadership identities.

The impact of a in-school Induction Program far outlasts an external, onn-off program.


2. Form a leadership team to promote collaboration.

The Zebra effect states that’s that there’s strength and support in numbers. A zebra on its own is easy prey, whereas it has few predators.

Just as zebras collaborate in the wild, student leaders are at their strongest when they are part of a teacher-lead team.

Forming school captains and other leaders into a collaborative should be a high priority at the start of the school year.


3. Meet regularly for reflection and review.

Reflection is a powerful self-improvement tool for young leaders, who are new to the task of leading.  Meeting monthly to reflect on previous activities, requires a systemised approach to be effective. Consider using this simple reflection and review system. Ask students to consider these questions:

  1. What did you do as a leader?
  2. What went well and why?
  3. What didn’t go well and what would you do differently next time?
  4. What’s coming up?
  5. What help do I need?


4. Conduct scenario training

The most confident school captains and student leaders are adaptive thinkers. These students think on their feet and solve problems as they arise.

Encourage the development of adaptive thinking by providing scenario training on a regular basis.

That is, present common scenarios that they may encounter as student leaders (such as how to manage uncooperative fellow students) encouraging student leaders to discuss possible ways of managing them. Capture their suggestions, creating a Student Leadership Problem-solving Toolbox.


5. Introduce mentoring to accelerate learning and magnify support.

Mentoring accelerates leadership learning. It’s such a powerful way of developing the skills and capabilities that school captains and other leaders need to lead.

It’s also a great way to provide students with support over their leadership journey.

Start by asking school captains and other leaders to choose a mentor who will pass on their experience when approached. The Young Leaders Program outlines the four domains of mentoring, where a student leader is mentored, then becomes a mentor, leaves a legacy, and passes on their learnings to new leaders.


Systemise your support.

Work out how best you can support student leaders over the course of a year and then systemise your activities so that they occur routinely.

Your student leadership support system should also include the opportunity for teachers and student leaders to reflect and review leadership support each year ensuring your support system is meeting its aims.

Looking for resources to help you develop and support your school leadership team? 

The Young Leaders Program is designed for Australian students, by Australian teachers and is used by schools in every Australian state. Want it? It’s ready for you now.


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