Re-visioning leadership roles at St Patrick’s, Bega
Leadership within a school sets the whole school community’s tone, values and goals.
The efficacy of the leadership team determines the success of outcomes. In Catholic schools, more specifically, it determines how well the student body can live the shared faith and connect with the wider faith community.
Traditionally student leadership consists of captains and a student representative council. However, the religious Education Coordinator of St Patrick’s Primary School, Bega Emma Grant, says the school has recently re-visioned the traditional leadership roles and structure to one of a school parliament.
Captains and ministers collect motions, make decisions, and pass them through to a ‘senate’ and mimic the democratic process of the nation. The results so far have been extremely positive.
The Parliament has captains and ministers, including ministers for inclusion and diversity, ministers for social justice and ministers for peer mediation.
“The students love having such a specific role,” says Mrs Grant.
“Before this parliament structure, leadership was a bit ambiguous, and because of COVID our leaders didn’t get a chance to imbed their roles into their everyday life.
“Now the social justice ministers organise trips to the local nursing home for roles of companionship, run the mini-Vinnies liaising with the local St Vincent de Paul Society, and help with the daily breakfast club of food and drink which is donated by Woolies.”
Part of the formal proceedings of each parliament sitting is a leadership prayer which encapsulates the importance of custodianship, faith, social justice, the complexities of governing and the inextricable need for Christian ethos.
Ms Grant says the establishment of a school parliament came to them from curriculum coordinator Mel Ferris who got the idea from a previous school she had worked in. She helped the leadership team at St Patrick’s implement it, which has now become an integral part of the school’s ability to instigate change and uphold Christian values and responsibilities.
“The last couple of years have shown us that the kids need to step up in demonstrating their voice and leadership and being agents of change,” said Ms Grant.
“Having the Parliament gives the students ownership of their roles and responsibilities. They’ve learnt success will only come if they work as a team.”
Just as the country has recognised the importance of leadership in times of change, so has St Patrick’s and this little school in the southern part of the diocese is rising to the challenge.