Dainfern College’s mission is to produce leaders of great calibre who will make a positive contribution to, and an effective investment into, their families, communities and nations. Our Mission reads:
“Dainfern College develops the skills for life required to unlock unique personal potential and to nurture creative thinkers with the confidence to become leaders – through the provision of an innovative, relevant and quality education.”
Our leadership development over the past few years largely culminated in the prefect system that served the school well and gave a number of young men and women an opportunity to learn leadership through the leading of portfolios, their Houses and the College. The prefect system subtly evolved within the College in order to serve a school of increasing complexity in a world where more demands are made on leaders, mainly as a result of increased communication and a greater emphasis on human rights and responsibilities.
The need to develop our learner leadership system further was keenly felt by the House Directors and senior staff involved in the pastoral work at the College. We therefore designed a new Leadership Programme that incorporates all that was good in the previous prefect system and added to it so that learner leadership at Dainfern College not only keeps abreast of contemporary trends in education and leadership, but actually takes a lead.
In developing the system the following were taken into consideration:
What Dainfern College believes about leaders and leadership:
- All individuals have leadership potential.
- Certain personality traits predispose some individuals to assuming leadership positions.
- All people are not equally gifted in leadership, management, organisational or people skills.
- Specific knowledge, experience and expertise allow some individuals to emerge as leaders in specific situations; equally, in different situations, other individuals may come to the fore as leaders.
- Leadership skills can be learnt and developed and therefore all individuals can demonstrate more effective leadership with training, experience, coaching and personal reflection.
- Leadership involves both inspiring followers (influencing others) and achieving a task (accomplishing a goal).
- Leadership requires intentional mentorship.
- Leadership involves service.
- Leadership should be exercised in a way that is consistent with the values which Dainfern College holds dear. Leaders are custodians and role models of these values.
The personal qualities to which leaders should aspire:
At Dainfern College we believe that all learners need to be taught and exposed to key leadership values, knowledge and skills in order to better develop and shape their leadership ability.
Key Leadership values:
Key Leadership knowledge:
- Self-awareness and self-knowledge
- Knowledge of people
- Knowledge of group functioning
- Knowledge of leadership styles
Key Leadership skills:
- Communication (including active listening skills)Time management
- Management (planning, organising, leading and controlling)
- Motivation and team building
- Managing human relationships
- Decision making
- Conflict resolution and negotiation
The School environment leaders need to help maintain:
Dainfern College values excellence as an aspiration in everything that we do. We seek to maintain a disciplined, supportive environment, in which respect, courtesy, consideration and manners are central to the atmosphere we create. We strive for the development of each individual so that they might reach their full potential and we recognise the importance of belonging to, and of bonding with a community.
The Leadership Programme
The aim of the Leadership Programme is to give all Grade 11 learners going into their Grade 12 year an opportunity to experience leadership and thus be inspired to develop their potential as leaders. This is done in a highly structured way that will equip, guide, appraise and reward leaders so that the College continues to function effectively and the leaders themselves are supported and acknowledged, and excellence is encouraged.
In developing the revised model it was clearly understood that some learners will no doubt excel as leaders and gain great honours, others will not; but all will gain significant skills, knowledge and values regarding leadership. It is our intention that learners leave Dainfern College with a greater awareness of what being a leader entails, thus preparing them better for life in society. We currently acknowledge differences in natural ability, skills, committed service and experience in the fields of academics, sport and culture by awarding colours at the end of each season of performance and we now also do so for the important area of leadership.
The system requires considerably more staff input than the old prefect system from which it has evolved. The new system gives staff more opportunities to lead, mentor and have an increased impact on the leadership development within the College. As Dainfern College is blessed with many talented, resourceful and experienced teachers, this increased engagement of a variety of staff is one of the exciting aspects of the Leadership Programme.
Training in Leadership
We understand that the bulk of learning about leadership is derived from the actual experience of leading. Therefore, our leaders will learn the most, not in preparing to lead the College, but in the year in which they actually do this. This will occur through seeing what works and how results can best be achieved; learning the pitfalls of various approaches; listening to and watching fellow leaders and receiving constant input from House Directors, mentors and staff – including a supportive appraisal system. We also understand, however, that some intentional leadership training opportunities need to be utilised and facilitated in the years leading up to our leaders’ time on the Leadership Programme. Examples of this include:
- Life Orientation (LO): We are very fortunate that a fair amount of what our learners do in Life Orientation over the five years of high school is intentionally linked in as many ways as possible to the promoting of the sort of leadership we are hoping for in our learner leaders. The first Learning Outcome in every grade in LO is Personal Wellbeing which is, in essence, self-awareness and self-leadership, or as we emphasise, self-management.
- Academic: Many subjects embrace teamwork and the opportunity for learners to develop leadership skills through projects or class tasks. Where appropriate, teachers also use opportunities within subjects to discuss leadership models as seen in historical, political and business examples.
- Extramurals: We actively promote leadership roles in extramural activities such as captaincy of a team or opportunities to take initiative and head projects, service opportunities and cultural activities.
- Service: An important standard that we have insisted on is that one learns to lead wisely and compassionately and develop a keener knowledge of oneself through offering to serve others and initiate, lead and complete service projects in the broader community. We encourage every learner to complete at least 10 hours of community or outreach service each year and insist that a learner completes a minimum of 40 hours of such service to be eligible for the Leadership Programme.
- Grade Camps: The importance of camps has been known by educators for centuries. There is much to be gained from learners being taken out of their comfort zones, put together in activity groups and made to experience different and often difficult situations. They learn much about themselves and about group dynamics and, if the programme is well run, about being both a leader and a follower. Every grade has a grade camp with a significant leadership component.
- External Training Opportunities: The opportunity for Dainfern College learners to attend external leadership training courses is invaluable. Here they are exposed to learners from other schools, debates around leadership philosophy and practice, and a variety of specialist speakers. We regularly interact with organisations that provide these courses and make it available to our learners. Current providers include Round Square, Milpark Business School, Rotary and the St Albans Leadership Conference.
How it works
The Leadership Programme works as follows:
Application to the Leadership Programme: All current Grade 11s are encouraged, and indeed expected, to apply to join the Leadership Programme by the end of the second term. There are certain basic compliance requirements for eligibility for acceptance into the Leadership Programme. These include: a minimum of 40 hours of certified outreach service; attendance of all grade camps; completion of the Investment for Excellence PX2 course; attendance of the Grade 10 basic PR and mentorship training; proven mentorship in Grade 11 of a Grade 8 learner; an Emergency Training certificate (e.g. First Aid), a completed CV and the Leadership Programme Application Form.
Appointment to Leadership Portfolios: Each learner on the Leadership Programme will be appointed to a specific Leadership Portfolio, either within the school or in their respective Houses. These Leadership Portfolios will be allocated based on the voting of their peers and teachers, their own preferences and strengths, and in consultation with the House Director and the Leadership Committee. All learners on the Leadership Programme are expected to serve as role models of the values and Code of Conduct of Dainfern College within their Houses and in the school community.
Mentor Teacher: All appointed Portfolio Leaders will have an allocated staff mentor who will oversee the learners’ leadership of the Portfolios and mentor them in managing and developing those Portfolios and themselves as leaders.
Awarding of Colours: All learners on the Leadership Programme will be evaluated by the Leadership Colours Committee twice during their Grade 12 year - at the end of the first and of the second terms. They will be appraised based on a set of transparent rubrics in two main areas:
- As a role-model of the values and Code of Conduct within their House and School community, and
- As a Portfolio leader.
After the May appraisal clear feedback on the leader’s progress as a custodian/role model and Portfolio leader will be given through their respective House Director and mentor. At the final appraisal in July, the Leadership Committee will again evaluate the leader’s progress as a custodian/role model and Portfolio leader based on the same set of rubrics. All learners on the Leadership Programme will then be eligible for a Leadership Award such as a Certificate of Participation, a Team Award, Half-colours, Full colours or Honours based on the results of these two evaluations.
Late applications: Grade 11s who do not apply by the end of August of their Grade 11 year will be given a second opportunity to apply before the end of the school year, provided that they fulfil the basic compliance requirements. This shorter period of duty will, however, play a role in the level of colours that are awarded after the two appraisals.
Removal from the Leadership Programme: Learners who violate the values and Code of Conduct of Dainfern College necessitating disciplinary measures and/or who do not comply with the requirements of the Leadership Programme may be removed from the Leadership Programme and relieved of their Portfolio duties.
We look forward to many fulfilling years of leadership development as we give every learner the opportunity to lead on the Leadership Programme.
“The real leader is someone who knows he or she is there because of their followers: they act in self-giving for the sake of those they lead.” ~ Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu