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Student Leadership “Counsel”

The composition of your Student Leadership Council might be something you’ve argued with colleagues about. I know I have. On this occasion, I had a rare win.

I argued that Anthony should be on our SLC. Janis, an Assistant Principal, didn’t see it that way.

She argued that Anthony wasn’t exactly the model student and had even been suspended the previous year. In Janis’ words, “He doesn’t deserve it.”

I argued that Anthony was a kid with high growth potential if handed the responsibility (and the badge) to lead.

Further, I argued that the SLC should be viewed as a growth opportunity. The most advantaged and high-performing students – those who deserved it – didn’t have much scope for improvement by participating.

Janis didn’t take it well. Her exasperated “Well, you tell me how we’re supposed to handle it when he gets suspended as a student leader?” was a dead giveaway.

I agreed to that on one condition. “That’s a deal, Janis. You just need to tell me how we’ll celebrate like crazy if Anthony gets through without a suspension.”

My counsel on student councils is that they aren’t opportunities for recognition or for pinning badges on the kids who are already the most popular or accomplished. They’re growth opportunities.

You might think I suggest you choose the least deserving students or your SLC. To be clear, I’m not.

But you should pick the kids with the most growth potential. Not only will it be good for them, but it will also mean that your SLC serves your school improvement agenda to the highest possible effect.

Your SLC is not a mirror into the past (what they’ve done/deserved), but a window into what they could do (their potential).

In the end, what kids deserve has nothing to do with why they’re at school anyway.

Keep fighting that good fight,


PS. Free Webinar. Are you seeking effective strategies to tackle behaviour challenges in your school? Join me at the Leading Whole School Behaviour Improvement Webinar on 16 May at 4:15 pm, and gain valuable insights and unlock a practical framework. You can register here or watch this video to see why it’s worth registering.


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