Junior Leadership Program (JLP)
The Junior Leadership Program aims to expose all Year 10 students to the possibilities of taking on leadership positions within the classroom, within the school, within the community and within their peer group, building on the existing structures that operate. Building self‐esteem through hard work, accomplishment, and recognition are vital factors in the leadership model. By taking on positions of responsibility at school and in their communities, students will feel genuinely good about themselves. A 2004 study at the University of California Santa Barbara found that people with leadership roles in high school are more likely to hold managerial positions as adults, earning higher incomes than those in non-leadership roles.
In 2020 and 2021, despite the lockdowns caused by the spread of Covid-19, the JLP changed its format to include Year 10 students from Mac.Robertson Girls’ High School. Between the two schools there are over 100 students participating in the 6 after-school sessions conducted in Term 1. The organising committee has representatives from MHS Old Boys and Mac.Rob Palladians Association.
The JLP has been most successful and was awarded a Melbourne City Council Community Champions Certificate of Appreciation in 2020.
The JLP is now preparing for the 2022 program which will commence for all Year 9 students in December, with sessions beginning in Term 1 2022.
Qualities of Leadership
“Leadership is getting others to do, what the group needs to get done, because they want to do it”.¹
In considering a definition of leadership we need to consider that “leadership pertains to getting students to be of service to others, while teaching them to effectively influence and motivate others”.²
- David Adams Truss, Developing a Student Leadership Program at Como Lake Middle School, University of Oregon, Department of Educational Leadership, 2006.
- Ibid, p.11
In a meaningful student leadership program it seems almost all leadership positions require the leaders have skilled interpersonal abilities. As educators at Melbourne High School all staff must do what they can to cultivate skills relevant to leadership, especially in Years 9 and 10. Charles Pearson lists four keys skills that are essential for quality leadership.
- Interpersonal Skills. The ability to work with other people is the most important leadership skill. Leaders must satisfy the wants and need of several individuals and groups. They must be able to motivate individuals to action. The traditional idea of leadership has a leader driving others to action through charisma and oration skills. However, real leaders usually do not fall into this category and instead have more of the qualities of shared leadership.
- Collaborative Skills. Shared leaders can work with other leaders or individuals to solve problems. Managing an organisation relies on a diverse set of skills that not everyone has, so leadership usually relies on multiple individuals collaborating and sharing decision making. With shared leadership, skilled leaders must mediate conflict between virtually anyone in the organisation, especially with other leaders. Shared leaders must also have a much more nurturing style of leadership. Teachers can facilitate this by having students participate in more group work. However, they must also help students become conscious of the skills they are developing by explaining how the shared leadership skills are need in the beyond school world.
- Ethics. Students need to have a sense of ethics when leading, which can help student leaders avoid engaging in actions that can have negative consequences for individuals, the group or society. They must not be racially or ethnically biased or derogatory. All individuals must be considered equally and never discriminated against.
- Listening Skills. Leaders must listen effectively and use feedback from others in their decision making. While leaders sometimes have authority over their followers, they cannot make effective decisions without the input of others. Good leaders generally are able to make considered decisions following discussion of the situation with all members of the team. These decisions will be beneficial to all and all members are seen to have had their say.