Along with the twenty or so other girls who applied for the team, I had to ask myself what it meant to be a Head Girl and what I could bring to the role. A year on, I can see the role of a Head Girl is defined by four key relationships: with younger pupils, with the Head Girl Team and Prefects, with our teachers, and with the public.
Firstly, the way in which the younger pupils viewed the Head Girl team was extremely important for us this year. I remember being a Junior School girl myself and looking up to the Head Girl team, thinking that they must be so much older and wiser than me. Little did I know I would still feel like a Junior School girl when I reached 6th Year! That being said, I have strived to be someone to look up to. As a collective Head Girl team, we have managed to be involved in areas of the school where we can get to know the younger pupils, through music ensembles, debating clubs, sports clubs, and the school show.
Assemblies have also been a way to connect with younger pupils. Throughout the year we have had some student-only assemblies discussing social media, entering Senior school and tolerance of people different from us. Additionally each member of the Head Girl Team takes their own assembly, giving us a chance to speak to the whole school. In a time when Brexit and Trump are constantly on the news, I decided to speak about the importance of paying attention to world politics and affairs as young people. Likewise, other members of the Head Girl Team chose to speak about things they felt were important, including self-confidence and the benefits of sports.
We also wanted to make sure we were not only speaking to the girls, but with them. That was one of the benefits of the mentoring scheme and Games Club which we ran with the I Seniors. We all remember how tough first year can be, and we hoped that having older girls to open up to would help. For this reason, making sure we were approachable and not intimidating was very important, and by doing this we were able to get to know many of the year group.
Another relationship that shapes the Head Girl role is working with the Head Girl Team and prefects. As these were my peers, I did wonder how to balance approachability with authority. While there have been some points that I felt it would have been better to be more assertive, on the whole, approachability did not hinder authority. It made working together and coming up with ideas much easier, as people weren’t intimidated by the Head Girl Team. The approachability of the Head Girl Team has also hopefully helped those who might be part of the future team to see what the role entails, without being alienated from us. Teamwork was so important for coping with tasks and making decisions, and it has been one of the most enjoyable aspects of the role to be able to work with my friends and give back to a school we all care about.
Working with teachers was also a very important part of the Head Girl Team’s role. In our weekly meetings with both the head teacher and deputy head, we were able to work together to help organise prefects and discuss any ideas we had, giving the student perspective on these. There is often a misconception in schools that the Head Girl Team has no real voice. But, in this school, our ideas were listened to and valued, and we could then feedback to pupils the changes that could be made and the reasons behind the decisions. Understanding between teachers and pupils is imperative for a school to thrive, and I believe a Head Girl team can help to bridge any gaps perceived between these groups.
Finally, as a Head Girl, it is important to be an ambassador to the public. I have seen varying degrees of this in past years, and for our Head Girl Team it mainly consisted of the tours and talks given on Open Mornings and class reunions. This surprisingly was one of the easier aspects of the job, as it has never been hard for any of the Head Girl team to talk about the school which has helped us become the people we are today. I think when you have genuine gratitude and passion for anything, it is never hard to talk to others about it, and this was certainly the case for speaking about the school.
Within these four key aspects, there are certainly different priorities for different Head Girl teams. For our Head Girl Team, we have always wanted to have a very student-centred approach whereas in other years they may have prioritised working with Prefects, or interacting with the public. The Head Girl role is a very personal thing, and there is no one model for how it should be done. I think this is the reason that it has become such a popular position to apply for in recent years. It is a chance to see how you personally can shape the role and in doing so, shape aspects of the school. No matter what sort of leader you are, the only real requirement is that you fully commit to the role.
Overall, it has been an incredibly rewarding year for the whole Head Girl Team, and I know none of us will regret the hard work that has gone into the position, as it has taught us skills that we will certainly use in the future.