Perceptions of Student Leadership – in a socially just world, examining both sides of the story.

Year: 2019

Author: Rashleigh, Dearne

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Within the context of a secondary school environment, both students and teachers can be seen to have contesting views of what it means to be a leader. These differing perceptions can lead to inequity. In a socially just world, both groups would have a voice and that this voice would be listened to, and each group’s opinions would be valued Lambert (2002). The research question examined the differing perceptions of student leadership. The research design was based on the assertion that the perception of leadership had different meanings for students and teachers. It became apparent that there was a different belief system being used by students and teachers when it came to what it means to be a school leader. These views were most evident when discussing leadership opportunities with students and hearing their feedback on various leadership positions. The data for this study were generated in two different phases – firstly a survey of all year 11 students and staff, secondly – interviewing a range of staff and students to gain a better understanding of their opinions. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data generated. The research found there was a distinct difference between what students and teachers believe regarding senior secondary leadership. The implication of this study undertaken in a coeducational school setting requires teachers and students to engage in dialogue to develop a shared understanding of the role and purpose of school leadership positions (Hay and Dempster, 2004). To enable this to happen a revised model for a senior secondary leadership program was advanced to aid in the development of secondary school student leaders. Further researcher could compare data within all-boys and all-girls schools to see whether similar patterns emerge.