Making Things Happen

6th Form Student Leadership – SSAT Conferences


Sixth Form Student Leadership

More than 200 sixth form students from academies around the country recently attended day conferences on student leadership. The conferences, organised by the SSAT, were held in London, Coventry and Manchester, hosted by a local academy each time. Bright Futures were chosen to provide an interactive experience for the students to introduce them to skills of leadership, team building, change management and school improvement.

Bill Watkin, SSAT Operational Director, and Julian Metcalf, the Academies’ Sixth Form Co-ordinator, selected Bright Futures to run the conferences. Bill commented:

“We are delighted at the outcomes. Both the students and the heads of sixth form told us that this was a valuable and enjoyable experience.”

Julian, who was present at all three conferences, said:

“This was indeed an excellent induction into leadership skills for sixth form students. Bright Futures are to be congratulated.”

On each occasion, heads of sixth form attended with 3 or 4 sixth form students. In the main, these were students of newly or recently created – and in some cases soon to be created – sixth forms. One academy sent students from Years 7, 8, 9 and 10 in order to seed leadership skills amongst their whole student body in preparation for their new sixth form, opening in 12 months’ time.

Sixth Form Student Leadership

At the start of the day, student delegates went into mixed-academy teams, where they completed some initial individual and team challenges, which helped to gel the new teams. These challenges introduced them to leadership attributes and qualities. Some time was then spent looking at famous leaders, past and present, to consider what it is that makes a leader. After discussing the changes they might like to see in their own academies, the teams worked on a presentation to the rest of the conference – students and staff – and these presentations took up the afternoon session. To conclude, each academy team then reconvened and began the process of deciding what changes they wanted to lead, on returning to their own institutions.

All the Powerpoint presentations from the teams – and the positive critiques from the audience – have now been logged on the SSAT website. In this way, the conferences have contributed to a resource on student leadership which is now available to all academies.

Bright Futures’ own evaluation of the three conferences showed very positive feedback from the students. Here are a few of the students’ comments from the three conferences.

What was helpful about the day?

  • being in a mixed group, working with new people, helped my confidence a lot;
  • the introductory mini-games to introduce us to each other;
  • learning about leadership is fun and not all serious;
  • hearing ideas from other academies and how they achieve results;
  • analysis of what a leadership role entails;
  • the way we defined leadership and then demonstrated it;
  • defining the difference between leadership and management;
  • learning about SMART targets;
  • teamworking skills;
  • the procrastination video – I realised how much time I waste!
  • the presentation process about what to change in the sixth form was a really good experience of teamwork;
  • everything!

100% of students at the Coventry event said they had understood what was presented, with 99% saying they had learned more about leadership. 96% recorded it as “a good day”.

Bright Futures have also begun to capture longer-term feedback from those sixth formers who attended. For example, here is a response from one head of sixth form, speaking three months after the original event:

“…and the Year 13 students … have told me the SSAT/Bright Futures conference has allowed them to be more instrumental in leading the whole school student council and given them the confidence to speak up to ensure that they are heard by staff. This has manifested itself through the Leavers’ Prom and the Common Room for the KS5 students.”

The student leadership conference was based upon one of the five Bright Futures programmes now available for sixth forms. View the programmes here. One of the programmes is entitled “Personal Leadership and Vision”.

Bill Watkin
SSAT Operational Director

Julian Metcalf
Academies’ Sixth Form Co-ordinator

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