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Following the model of other schools such as Hilton, Victoria Girls’ High reinvented its leadership structure in 2006.  The new system is in its 11th year and we would never turn back.  Under the new system, all Grade 11s may make application for leadership positions on various committees.  Committees range from the extremely demanding such as the discipline committee to the more light-weight (for once-off activities) such as the matric top committee.  Once girls have applied, a selection panel, made up of staff and girls, appoints girls to committees based on their choices as well as their suitability for the tasks required.  All girls are thus placed where they can develop their leadership best.  This system is based on the philosophy that we all have the ability and capacity to be leaders given the right set of circumstances and with 20 committees to choose from there is ample scope to accommodate everyone’s strengths.

Girls are encouraged to be creative and show initiative.  A recent success story in this regard in that our local movie house is currently screening a short film advert created entirely by two members of the publicity committee.

Although we cannot claim to have turned out a full house of outstanding leaders (as with everything at school, some pupils really rise to the occasion, others are happy to float); what we certainly are proud of is that we have seen a great number of learners flourish, learners who would most likely have had their leadership potential overlooked under the old prefect system. We also believe that many girls have gained valuable “real life” experience by working with deadlines, time pressure (as if matric were not enough) and by having to take full responsibility for the projects that they are working on.

Within this system we have also made room for individuals to get special acknowledgment, by incorporating a portfolio head stratum. This was not in the original concept but the pupils motivated for it. Portfolio Heads are chosen by vote, and a head and deputy head girl are chosen from this group. The head and deputy function much the same as in our previous system, covering the public relations aspect, being pupil spokespersons etc. In addition to this each portfolio head runs a committee and oversees others. Portfolio heads report on a regular basis to the principal.

While some committees have intensive guidance from a staff member, others are left almost entirely to their own devices.

Evaluating the new system at the end of its first year, we found that over 80% of the matrics (who had been through the system) and over 90% of the grade 11s (who were about to go through the system) felt strongly that it was a great improvement on the previous traditional prefect system. Since then, both staff and pupils have become increasingly convinced that we have made an immensely positive change, although it is essential that each girls’ load be carefully monitored, as these commitments on top of others like being the hockey captain and the small matter of matric exams can easily become overwhelming if girls are entirely left to monitor their own loads. We found in the first year especially that some girls wanted to take on far too much and strongly resisted advice to cut down. In the second year we imposed restrictions: portfolio heads are only allowed to be on one committee (as they have others to check up on), other pupils may be part of as many as three committees. Even with these, each case was looked at individually.

Personally I have virtually nothing but praise for the system sitting here on the first day of 2009 I marvel at the fact that I have the leisure to be sitting in my classroom typing this article while all around me the school buzzes with activity. The grade 12 Orientation Committee is leading the grade 8s (who are new to the school today) through the orientation programme that they devised over the holiday including a “getting to know the school” treasure hunt. The Mentoring Committee assists the new senior girls to find their way around the school while the publicity committee takes photos of all the new scholars. The Discipline Committee settled the girls in the hall for assembly this morning, the Hair and Uniform committee are busy weeding out those who don’t quite match up to the desired image. The school is looking beautiful thanks to the efforts of the Notice Boards and Displays Committee. Yesterday the Functions Committee catered for the parents’ tea, tomorrow the Co-Curricular Committee will start introducing the grade 8s to the competitive sports programme, and this weekend the social committee and the DJ committee will organize the school social. The system took many woman-hours (and a couple of man-hours) to put in place, but they were well worth it!

- Nicci Hayes



Mrs Schoeman, before she left, put together a document on leadership entitled The ABC of the VGHS Leadership Team which considers the VGHS leadership structure in depth.











Victoria Girls' High School Online: Established, January 2004, Last Updated: February 2018
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