Leadership for all : an investigation into the benefits of student leadership in secondary schools
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Education
“Leadership is not something you do to people. It’s something you do with them” Ken Blanchard (2003)
Background: Student leadership in schools is traditionally modelled on an outdated ideology of leadership. The traditional model consists of a group of selected prefects, who are given leadership responsibility, allowed privileges, and are tasked with representing the student body. Contemporary views of leadership are relationship based, collaborative and distributed rather than hierarchical. Purpose: This research focuses on the experiences of designated student leaders and non-designated students. It explores the benefits, the challenges, and the degree to which the student’s value school leadership experience. Methodology: Through interviews and observations, past students, current students, and staff at a case study school share their experiences and opinions about student leadership. The data is presented in two ways; using common themes and as three composite narratives. These stories give insight into the lives of the students through their eyes. Findings / Conclusion: The data shows that student leadership is an empowering and valuable educational experience, one which should be available to all senior students. The school’s approach to student leadership; through its ideology, structure, and support, dictates its effectiveness. Implications: A model for student leadership, based on the findings of the research, is presented. The model is structured around an ideology that views student leadership as a supported learning opportunity for all senior students who choose to be involved.