Coffey, A., & Lavery, S. (2017). Student leadership in the middle years: A matter of concern. Improving Schools, Early View (Online First).
Traditionally, student leadership has been seen as the prerogative of senior students. Very little research has been conducted on how schools nurture and develop leadership skills in students in the middle years of schooling. This article provides an overview of student leadership in six secondary schools with a particular focus on student leadership opportunities in the middle years. These schools were drawn from the Government, Catholic and Independent sectors in Western Australia. Specifically, the opinions and experiences of either principals or their delegates were sought in order to develop a sense of the importance placed on student leadership in the middle years and the types of leadership opportunities available to students. Initially, the literature is reviewed on student leadership per se and student leadership in the middle years. This review is followed by an outline of the purpose, research question and significance of the research. The research methodology is then explained, providing a summary of participants, the school contexts and methods of data collection and analysis. The subsequent section on results and discussion highlights three themes: the role of teacher leaders, student leadership structures in middle years and the holistic development of middle year students. The article concludes by providing a number of recommendations, in particular, the need to gain a ‘student voice’ in any understanding of student leadership at the middle school.
adult mentors, inclusivity, leadership skills, middle years, student leadership, youth mentoring