This week, we have been interviewing prospective prefects for the coming academic year. It is a good time to reflect on the excellent work done by this year's group, and to thank them for all of their efforts on behalf of the school. They have now completed their duties, apart from Speech Day, when they will don the gowns one last time.
In some ways, the selection of prefects is an invidious thing for a school to do, as many applicants will be unsuccessful, despite having outstanding school records, and great attitudes towards Felsted. One of the questions that they have all been asked has made them consider which failure in their time has been the most useful learning experience, and for some, they will have to reflect on this process, and consider what they have learned from it. Some schools go for an approach that sees all the Upper Sixth take on responsibility, while others slim it down to a very narrow elite. We will appoint around 25 prefects, a number that is enough to cover the duties, and represent the houses, without being unmanageable in a meeting, and therefore a group that is able to work collaboratively for the benefit of the school. The prefects at Felsted are expected to contribute a great deal, but it is important to remember that so are all of the Upper Sixth, who are all role models to the younger years. Having a gown, or a title, does not make you a leader, and some of the best contributors over the years have not necessarily been prefects. It is what they do, not whether they have a title that really matters, and of course, there is always the opportunity to take on a leadership role in one of the Upper Sixth houses for those who do not get chosen to be a prefect.
2017/18 Prefect Team
One of the best things about interviewing candidates for prefect roles is to realise how inspiring our students are, and how much they care about the school, and want to improve it. Several have talked about wanting to play an active role in improving integration between the year groups, while other ideas have included pupil-led talks on key issues, greater accessibility of prefects (using the Wellbeing Centre as a base), further opportunities for the whole school to mix, getting new Lower 6th pupils to talk about Felsted back in their previous schools, a pupil only forum (led by prefects), a reduction in waste and improved environmental awareness, student to parent seminars (on issues that challenge teenagers), and a mentoring system between sixth formers and the younger years. These are all things that we can and should seek to do in the coming year.
The process of selecting prefects is very rigorous, with a formal letter of application and CV, two interviews, a pupil vote, a staff vote, recommendations from HMs and Tutors, and comment from the outgoing prefects. We still sometimes miss some outstanding individuals, but the real test of anyone is not whether they get the post for which they have been hoping, but whether they make the change that they have talked about in their application, and that can be done whether wearing a gown or not.
For those with exams still going on, keep up the momentum, and remember that you can still make a difference, even at this late stage, if you revise well, take on advice and guidance, and do some challenging practice questions.