Talking heads

Monday, 20 January 2014
Talking heads

As Head Boy and Head Girl of Worth School, Alex Davis-White and Emily Richardson are two school terms away from taking their next steps into the wider world. How are they approaching their roles in this their final academic year?

Is being the Head Boy or Girl at Worth School any different to the role at other schools?

Alex: Yes, I believe there is a difference being a Head Boy here. At Worth School the leadership element which is attached to the role needs to be carried out with humility, in keeping with the Benedictine values of the School. This aspect, of living humbly with your peers, is best demonstrated by the community of monks who live in the Abbey adjacent to the School.

Emily: The Head Boy and Girl fulfil many important roles at Worth School. Some of these are similar to those of many other schools but some are individual to Worth and reflect Worth School’s particular ethos. As a Catholic Benedictine School, the Benedictine values are central to the School community. As heads of School we strive to embody and demonstrate these values. This can range from simple acts such as smiling at people and holding doors open, to taking active roles in charity events and fundraising.

What else does the role entail?

Emily: As in all schools, the Head Boy and the Head Girl represent the students and ensure that they have a voice. We do this mostly through School Council, where students can make suggestions about changes they want to make. However, pupils are also encouraged to make suggestions to us throughout the year. Alex and I, along with the prefects, can act as intermediaries between students and teachers. We also, of course, need to be good role models for younger students.

Alex: It’s really important that the Head Boy and Girl at Worth School don’t come across like candidates on the BBC’s The Apprentice, full of ego and ambition. Fundamentally, the role is to act as a channel of communication between staff, students, and the Head Master, helping ensure that students’ opinions are heard.

At Worth it is important that the Head Boy can engage and relate to every student, and to do this he has to make the time for people and be able to balance several on-going tasks. He must also be trustworthy and approachable to the entire community at Worth. While trying to put into practice the Benedictine values of service, humility, and balance and moderation can be difficult; these are crucial values that are needed to perform the role well.

In terms of organising and motivating a team of prefects, it is important to know each person well enough to understand their strengths and weaknesses and how to work together as a group. I think it is essential when working with contemporaries to be sensitive to their own responsibilities, to respect them, and to challenge them. Humility and working towards common goals is, I feel, the best way to engender a mutually beneficial and productive relationship.

Anything else you personally want to bring to the role?

Emily: As well as carrying out important duties and acting as a role model, I also hope to bring a more personal element to the role. I want younger students to view me as a role model, but I also want them to view me as a friend and to know that they can talk to me about any problems they may have.

Alex: What I personally want to bring to my time as Head Boy is greater communication and interaction between the student body and the staff who organise the School. Through greater cooperation and communication, students can have more of an investment in Worth School and make this community an even better place to study and live. Worth has an eclectic mix of students with different talents and backgrounds, and it is through the interaction between each student and the other members of community that Worth exists as such a vibrant and supportive School.

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