Student agency through student leadership is now a feature of many Australian primary schools.

It’s now common to see students speaking with confidence in public leadership settings, Student Representative Councils and school leadership team organising student projects in their schools and students representing their school at community events such as Anzac Day ceremonies.

It hasn’t always been this way.

There was a time when teachers had to cajole senior students to speak at weekly assembly. A time when SRC’s were unheard of. A time when mentoring and buddy programs were a pipe dream.


Five big changes

Around the turn of the millennium student leadership slowly began to gain prominence in primary schools. Young Leaders teachers reported that change was afoot and have noted five major changes have been the making of modern student leadership.

1. Leadership became ingrained in classroom life.

Leadership games and activities surfaced. Leadership behaviours were identified and acknowledged. Students completed leadership projects at home.

2. Leadership started earlier.

Schools began leadership development in the early primary school years. Attention was given to character development, student mattering and communication skills from an earlier age.

3.Situational leadership opportunities emerged.

Cometh the hour cometh the leader as the saying goes. Teachers began to create multiple contexts (SRC, camp, music, expeditions, and the like) for leadership skills to emerge.

4. Presentation skills have been prioritised.

It’s no coincidence that over 60% of the workers who move into management positions prioritise presentation skills as their main need. Leadership goes hand-in-hand with communication skills, for adults and kids alike. It simply must start in primary school.

5. Student leaders are given more prominence. 

Student leaders now show up at local community events, fun runs and local government activities with real tasks to perform. Within schools, leaders now take on a variety of tasks from participating in peer programs to organising elective programs for students.  It’s exciting. It’s education in action.


The future is here.

So what does the future hold for student leadership in primary schools? At Young Leaders we believe the following leadership ideas are just around the corner:

  1. Student representatives on School Council (trained and supported)
  2. Significant annual fund-raiser events in schools organised by students.
  3. School camps and other activities that specifically target leadership skills.
  4. Community projects involving student leadership teams from multiple schools.
  5. Global connections with students from different countries getting together for digital meetups.


Small hinges swing big doors.

It easy to feel overwhelmed when making program changes or introducing a new element to your school.

It seems that everything needs to be done at once.

Start small. Pick an area that’s easy to change or improve and work on that.

Often small adjustments can make a huge difference in terms of results and outcomes.

The key is to take the first step rather than procrastinate and wish things were better.


Want an easy way to develop student leadership in your school? The Young Leaders Program is an easy-to-use, time-saving program that you can introduce to senior primary students immediately. Discover Young Leaders here.