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An appreciative view of year 9 student leadership in a New Zealand secondary school context

Engaging students in relevant and meaningful leadership activities in schools can prove to be a challenging task. Understanding the leadership experiences and skills that students have is an important beginning step to understanding how schools can best serve their needs. This thesis shares the details of a qualitative research project, which explored year 9 students’ perspectives and experiences of leadership. The study engaged a strengths-based approach to learning and, amongst other things, encouraged students to reflect upon past experiences of leadership. Central to the research design were the voices of the students as they examined these past experiences to find out what factors made leadership enjoyable, meaningful and useful to them. The findings indicated the significant difference in opportunities students were provided in year 8 (intermediate school) as compared with year 9 (secondary school). Coming from environments where students most often had significant leadership opportunities, upon entering high school students perceived few opportunities for leadership. Students shared their views about ways they could contribute to and be involved in leadership at secondary school and suggested changes that needed to occur for this to happen. The findings also highlighted the powerful influence of the school and family on students’ leadership understandings and demonstrated that leadership development for young people should not be something schools ‘do’ to them but something that encourages them to recognise their existing skills and future potential.
Type of thesis
Mackay, J. K. (2014). An appreciative view of year 9 student leadership in a New Zealand secondary school context (Thesis, Master of Educational Leadership (MEdLeadership)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/8711
University of Waikato
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