Leadership: commitment to the School and the community

From the Assistant Dean

God be in my head,
And in my understanding;
God be in mine eyes,
And in my looking;

God be in my mouth
And in my speaking;
God be in my heart,
And in my thinking.

God be at mine end,
And at my departing.

This hymn was chosen to be sung at the Prefects’ Induction forty years ago in 1971 and at many other induction ceremonies that followed. This choice of music, often sung by a choir, highlights many significant qualities demanded of those in leadership roles: wisdom, integrity, empathy and open-mindedness. The 1971 Prefects also took a pledge to the School:

I resolve to undertake the responsible duties of a Prefect, to uphold in every way the honour of the School, by my own actions to set a good example, and, to maintain the order and discipline of the School.

This pledge was slightly shorter, but with similar intent, to the sentiments the Head Girls and the Student Council expressed today at the 2011 Induction Assembly by stating:

I promise that as a student leader of Brisbane Girls Grammar School in 2011 I will, to the best of my ability, conscientiously honour the School, uphold its spirit, traditions and high standards, be faithful in the execution of my duties and encourage others similarly to take pride in our School and participate to the full for the good of the School.

In the late 1970s, a student response was added when the Principal, Mrs Judith Hancock, asserted that the pledge, a commitment taken by the senior leaders of the School, needed to be acknowledged and reciprocated by the student body. Responsibility must be undertaken by all members of the School, not just the leaders. The student response emphasises this.

We, fellow students, promise to cooperate with you in maintaining the high ideals to which you have pledged yourself for the good of all.

What do these words and this long-standing, significant ceremony tell us about the School and the importance leadership plays in the education of a Grammar girl?

The School has always regarded service and responsibility integral elements of a woman’s education. It is important that every girl experiences some form of leadership while at school and is prepared for its responsibilities. To this end, leadership skills are nurtured in every girl commencing with their Year 8 Marrapatta experiences. This development continues across the lower school and then into Year 11 where leadership is formally discussed, applied and practised within the House system, the classrooms of the Health Studies Faculty and Year 11 assemblies. The girls are given the ultimate responsibility of voting for their Head Girls, House captains, and captains of co-curricular activities in Term IV. The process is a lengthy and thorough one where it is hoped sound, considered choices are made and the process is valued.

The students, who are voted into positions of responsibility in the House System and the co-curricular programme, then create the twenty-six strong Student Council. In 2010, to help create an effective Council, the inaugural Student Council Camp was held at Marrapatta. This year, because of the devastating weather conditions, the camp was held at the School over one and a half days. The activities in which the group were involved included bonding as a group, open discussion of the motto and goals for the year, learning about each individual’s signature strengths, public speaking, further development of leadership skills and a clarification of the role of the Student Council. Although not allowing the same Marrapatta bonding opportunities, this school-based camp meant each student could rehearse in the environment in which she would be delivering speeches and access technology which enabled the creation of a DVD to be shared with the Year 12 cohort. This sharing was integral to the long term goals of the 2011 Student Council which will strive to continue inter-grade and intra-grade relationships and a sense of Grammar “sisterhood”.

The most beneficial session as perceived by the students was the student-directed motto and goal discussion where the girls experienced, practised, and explored leadership by working independently, investigated their decision-making abilities, and arrived at an outcome that was exclusively theirs.

The most significant outcomes for the students were the bonding and social experiences, the frank and productive conversations on the motto and goals conducted entirely by the Head Girls, Angelique Sweep (12R) and Lucinda Tonge (12R), and the discussions about individual signature strengths as well as those of the group. Of the twenty-four signature strengths, the 2011 Student Council’s dominant strengths are humour and playfulness, equalled by fairness, equity and justice. The interesting blend of characteristics of the Council promises a productive and successful year.

The leadership skills discussion centred on important components of leadership and utilised the studies of Dr Andrew Martin, Child and Educational Psychologist and Associate Professor at the University of Sydney, who was the guest speaker to the School on Staff Day. Dr Martin spoke of the “Personal Potential Network”, a model for academic motivation, engagement, learning and personal potential. The staff and students discussed the elements of this model in the context of leadership and personal potential where each student needed to be motivated and engaged by planning, have self-belief, value school, and be persistent. Other elements of the model included academic buoyancy and courage, personal bests, positive relationships and adaptability.

These leadership skills and their continuous reinforcement will be a feature of the Year 12 assemblies across the year, as all senior students share the weight of responsibility. This was reinforced by the presentation of the Year 12 badges on 27 January by the Principal, Dr Bell, and donated by the Parents and Friends’ Association, represented by the President, Ms Margaret Ridley.

Today’s induction ceremony of the Head Girls and Student Council introduced a new leadership group to the School. They have the potential to achieve their goals and leave a lasting legacy, and the current Student Body made a commitment to support them in this dignified and time-honoured assembly.

Mrs P Harvey-Short


Martin, Dr A, Presentation at Brisbane Girls Grammar School Thursday 20 January 2011.

Leave a Reply