It is with great pride that I share details of one of our school’s leadership programmes. Loosely based on the Duke of Edinburgh Award, our very own Action and Service Volunteers (ASV) programme encourages students to serve both the school community and the wider community. They are awarded for their hard work and dedication. I think that this is a wonderful scheme that promotes the desirable attributes and attitudes of kind, internationally-minded students. Feel free to adopt some of these ideas for your own school/students. If you have a similar programme, please provide some details in the comments section below. We’d be interested to share ideas since we are continually trying to develop this.
The programme, started by my colleague Rachel Voce, has been trialled over the past couple of years with great success. This year, I share the coordinator role with Suchi Jatar. The programme is open to all year 4 and year 5 students on a voluntary basis.
The students are asked to volunteer both for the school community and for the wider community, and strongly encouraged to initiate/organise their own volunteering. Their portfolios must evidence their volunteering in an organised, reflective manner. Students who pass (at any level) are invited to a special celebratory event at the end of the year and can wear their badge with pride. The table below outlines our success criteria for a bronze, silver and gold award:
The Action and Service Volunteers (well over one hundred students) are divided into smaller groups, led by volunteer teachers who are willing to give up their spare time to support the scheme. Each group comprises of around twenty students and two/three teachers. The teachers organise a monthly meeting to check progress, share experiences, and generate ideas.
Our fantastic Parent and Teacher Association organises many events throughout the year and these can take different forms. Many of them are charitable. These events are even more attended than before, with a significant increase in upper school participation. Since students are looking for opportunities, the PTA is benefiting. The PTA also knows that they can rely on the Action and Service Volunteers to help them whenever they need it.
Since the trial period, we have made the following adaptations to the programme:
- Digital portfolios
In the trial years, the students collated hard copy portfolios of evidence throughout the programme. This worked perfectly well, apart from it wasted a huge amount of paper. Furthermore, many students organised their evidence into plastic wallets. We have to lead by example. We can’t claim to be Action and Service Volunteers if we’re willing to disregard the environment. This year, we are using Google Slides for this. We will consider a blogging platform for next year’s cohort.
- ASV Google Classroom
This is such an efficient way to communicate with all students and teachers involved. We use the Google Classroom to post meeting details, reminders, instructions and volunteering opportunities (although students are encouraged to organise their own as much as possible). We also plan to use the Google Classroom to share examples of modelled action.
- Modelled action
We believe that modelled action lies at the foundation of student action. As adults, we need to be modelling the behaviours that we expect from our students. Teachers are hugely influential, so we ensure that our students know about our volunteering. In many cases, these are things that my colleagues are doing anyway and have been doing for years. It is also a way of showcasing a variety of volunteering opportunities. They do not have to revolve around fundraising.
- Action requests through Student Council
Action ideas that impact the school and/or require some promotion are planned by students using an Action Request Form. In the past, these ideas have been approved by teachers and the principal before going ahead. These forms now go through Student Council. Students discuss and develop the idea(s) with Student Council support. Students helping students – ace!
The programme is continually developing and improving, so we welcome your comments and suggestions. Please let us know if you are involved in a similar scheme. Perhaps we can put our heads together.