We are currently looking at the applications that have come in for School Prefects for the coming academic year. It is easy to think of this as a rather old-fashioned part of school life, but I believe that, if done well, it can be a valuable process for a school to go through. First of all, the application process is a rigorous process, that includes application, interview, peer review and self reflection. This is not dissimilar to the experience of stepping out into the job market, and it should be a good experience for all those who take part. In encouraging the applicants to think about the values of the school, and their active contribution towards those, we seek to encourage as many of our students as possible to show the 'active good behaviour' that we often talk about, helping others, and contributing towards the improvement of the school.
Adults (parents, tutors, HMs) can definitely play a significant part in this process. I don't mean in terms of writing applications, as these should be a personal reflection of the candidate, but in encouraging the thinking that goes into this, and then reviewing the outcome. Of course, one aspect of a job application is that many candidates are not successful. Success rates in prefect applications are (generally) higher than in job applications, but there will still be individuals who are disappointed. Again, the adults must play a key part at this time. Not being successful is not the same as being a failure. Failing to be chosen for a job can be an important part of a learning process, and for an applicant to be a prefect who is disappointed, encouragement to find other ways to prove their worth, and putting their energies into driving change can be a really positive way to respond.
As you may well be aware already, we have just run a large pupil survey, and one of the things that came out from this was a sense that pupil voice is not having sufficient impact. Being a prefect is one effective way to give pupils a strong voice, and the role of the prefects in running house and school councils, and getting the voice of the school to be heard is high on the agenda for the coming year. Similarly, we are looking for prefects who will drive greater inclusion and equality across the school; and we also want next year's prefects to build on the excellent work of this year's team who have spent a lot of time with the Year 9 pupils reinforcing the meaning of the Felsted Behaviour Charter, and encouraging more positive relationships within the year group.
So, the authoritarian view of prefects might well be old-fashioned, but the modern type of prefect, who contributes to improving the experience for as many students within the school as possible is fit for the modern world, and vital to the success of the school.
Have a very good week.