Mr.Robin  Fleming

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Student Leadership at Vajiravudh College




One of the greatest challenges that any school faces is to produce young people that will go into the world and make a positive contribution to their community.  Ever since Vajiravudh College was founded in 1910, it has been aspiring to produce “young men who are physically and morally clean, and who will be looking forward keenly to take up whatever burden their future may lay upon them”.  The reality of human endeavor is that most of the time the majority of people don’t take the lead and we make mistakes, but hopefully we learn from them and can pick ourselves up and aspire to do better.


The new leadership programme is an acknowledgement that leadership can be learnt, and everyone should therefore be given the opportunity to learn to lead.  This change in understanding recognizes that all students in the senior school at Vajiravudh must be given the opportunity to develop as leaders, gain knowledge of themselves and develop the maturity to take responsibility for their actions.  The new programme that is being implemented has been carefully thought out and has the complete support of the Housemasters and the School Board.  Essential to its success is the concept of support for each student from his Housemaster, Assistant Housemaster and Tutor, who monitor, encourage and challenge him.  The programme will allow students to experience and reflect on their leadership practice, and grow in character and moral courage, as they deal with both success and failure.


Leadership development is an integral part of every student’s education at Vajiravudh.  Students are challenged to understand that leadership is more than a position – it is an attitude, a way of being and an understanding of the importance of serving others.  Everyone gets called upon to lead at some stage in their life, and the school wants every student to have the mindset and skills necessary to be an effective leader.  The leadership programme is designed to be progressive from Mattayom 1 – 6, allowing students to understand who they are and to understand others.


The past practice at Vajiravudh was that the choice of Prefects was based on the votes of students and staff.  The choice was therefore frequently based on their success and popularity in previous years.  The students chosen to be Prefects were then put into a position of power and privilege.  On the whole this system worked reasonably well, and the innate quality of the students chosen, together with the support of their parents and the Housemaster, often made them into capable leaders.  However, this model has some serious weaknesses.  There was an overemphasis on position, with little emphasis on character, knowledge and skills.  The truth is also that several students, once made Prefects, did very little to earn the respect of their peers, teachers and other students.  Some even abused the authority they had been given.  In addition, this model led to significant frustration for those students who were capable of learning to lead, but were not selected.  In fact there were always those who even though not selected proved to be outstanding leaders, but who could not enjoy the formal acknowledgement of being a Prefect.


The new model has the following characteristics: 


Each student will:


1)     attend lessons on leadership, which will increase his knowledge and understanding of the different leadership paradigms.  Housemasters, Assistant Housemasters and Tutors in each House will be able to reflect back to the students on their progress and guide them.

2)     need to exercise a leadership role in the school by setting an example to others of the high standards of personal behaviour, integrity and hard work.

3)     need to serve the wider community through participation in the community service programme.


Most students will hopefully:


     1)   be given the opportunity to mentor a junior student and help him to succeed at Vajiravudh College.

     2)   prove to be worthy of selection as a Prefect and have a specific portfolio in his House or in the School where he will be able to exercise leadership.


Ultimately the aim through this programme is that the student leader of Vajiravudh will have learnt to take responsibility of himself, act with integrity and demonstrate moral courage; to have developed the self-esteem necessary to see himself as a leader, with an understanding of the role and with the ability to work effectively in a team where he would value collaboration and diversity.  Leaders would be assisted to value and nurture relationships even when difficult, and learn to hold people accountable.  A leader at Vajiravudh would demonstrate a willingness to accept failure, frustrations and challenges, and learn from them.  Most importantly, they would enjoy and value the work, not the title, and in all of this be generous, caring and keen to make a positive contribution to helping the people they lead.      








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