Pupil Leadership & School Council
The manner in which the four Houses are organised allows each boy in Year 8 to assume a leadership role. In their final year, these boys take up appointment as Vertical Group Leaders, within each of the four Houses.
Boys from all parts of the school – that is, from Reception to Year 8 – meet regularly in these Vertical Groups of about a dozen pupils, under the mentorship of their Vertical Group Leader, and the guidance of a member of staff. They enjoy a variety of activities, from those that might focus on values of SMSC (Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural) to lunchtime picnic gatherings at Castlebar Field, from quizzes to inter-house competitions.
Vertical Group Leadership assures each senior pupil of an opportunity to be a guiding presence, to manage efficiently, to delegate effectively, and, perhaps more importantly, to consider the needs of others within the House and wider Durston House Community.
We feel that all at Durston have the potential to ‘lead’ in some way; all who have progressed through the school to Year 8 will have been given the opportunity to do so.
Let us not forget that the boys are what we are all about, here at Durston House. Therefore, we believe that a pupil voice is important. The School Council, a democratically elected body of pupils, offers this voice; the views and ideas represented are vital to the school’s success and development. All boys profit from the changes that are instituted. The School Councillors, and the teachers who advise them, work together to improve life for the whole Durston community.
Each year, boys from Years 5-8 can offer themselves for election. Campaigns are run within Forms and elections take place, with at least one boy going forward to represent his peers on the Council. Those not elected participate through the weekly feedback sessions given by their Councillors, and share their ideas with the Form, suggesting ways to improve school life. At the School Council’s weekly meetings, an agenda is set and minutes are kept and distributed. Ideas and proposals brought by Councillors are debated and motions passed. Being able to listen, adapt and empathise are key to a Councillor’s success.
The School Council has made decisions about After School Enrichment choices, selected books for the school’s libraries, and even devised and organised our very own Durston’s Got Talent. Discussion meetings have been held with the Headmaster, Assemblies about the Council’s work have informed the whole school, and an entire Saturday morning has been given up to run the Charity Sports Festival. What could be more character building than a 6 a.m. start at the weekend?
But it takes more than an early start to be an effective part of school life. The School Council at Durston, as an exercise in ‘local’ democracy, is important in building character, developing citizenship, and promoting responsibility and service to others. All boys gain a sense of ownership, and pride is nurtured. By engaging all the boys in this way, the School Council is a positive, powerful voice at Durston House.