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Rowena Hector, Head of Sixth Form at Ashton Park School in Bristol, looks at how students benefit from a leadership programme

In the bustling corridors of Ashton Park School, there’s a distinct buzz radiating from the sixth formers, and it’s not just the caffeine from their morning coffees. No, it’s the unmistakable energy of student leadership. But why is sixth form student leadership so vital, you ask? 

In Ashton Park School, the sixth form is more than just a phase of academic study; it’s a period marked by the active involvement of student leaders who contribute significantly to the school’s ethos and community engagement. 

Sixth formers regularly take on roles that extend beyond their academic courses. They engage in wellbeing mentoring programs, provide support to younger students in areas such as reading and get involved in sports leadership. There are opportunities for many students, nominated by their peers, to take on additional responsibilities such as the student council or Senior Student roles.

Numerous sixth formers have also set up and lead their own enrichment clubs in areas like languages, music, crochet and board games. Through these initiatives, they not only contribute to the development of others but also cultivate their own leadership skills and sense of responsibility.

Moreover, sixth form student leaders are instrumental in driving meaningful change within the school and the wider community. They spearhead initiatives focused on issues such as environmental sustainability and social justice, demonstrating a commitment to making a real difference.

Our passionate student EDI (Equality, Diversity & Inclusion) group meets regularly to discuss how it can promote and support important causes; earlier in the year it created an assembly and accompanying posters highlighting under-recognised black historical figures such as Lilian Bader, Katherine Johnson and Gordon Parks.

This term’s focus is on pride month – where last year’s group decided to mark the occasion by delivering informative assemblies about the history of the movement, this year’s cohort decided to throw a party to share with the entire sixth form the feeling of fitting into a diverse community worthy of celebration. 

And let’s not forget about personal development. Here, sixth formers aren’t just preparing for exams, they’re honing their skills for life beyond the classroom. Opportunities such as the Extended Project Qualification and employability workshops provide students with the tools they need to thrive in various contexts, both during their time at school and in their future careers.

In addition, many of our sixth formers choose to shine through initiatives such as the Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme which encourages the development of leadership, resilience, and teamwork.

Regardless of their interests or aspirations, students at Ashton Sixth find a supportive environment where their talents are recognised and nurtured. Student leadership is crucial not only for the development of each individual student but also for the overall well-being and success of the school community and with our talented young people at the helm, the opportunities are endless.