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School Leadership and Meaningful Student Involvement


School leadership can be a logical and impacting location for Meaningful Student Involvement in all schools.

More than simply standing in front of others and telling them what to do, school leadership focuses on action that changes thoughts, feelings, and actions. As school leaders, students can affect their peers, younger students, parents, communities, educators, administrators, and others involved in an education community.

When students participate in the formal activities of policy making, committee memberships and school improvement, they can be meaningfully involved in school leadership.

Meaningful Student Involvement in school leadership is more than simply attending school events or making menial choices. School leadership becomes meaningful when it focuses on the community beyond individual students, or when it sincerely affects the depths of a students’ experience in schools. Ultimately, Meaningful Student Involvement in school leadership requires active engagement as fully equitable partners with adults in the guidance, deliberation, visioning and outcomes of the educational process for much more than the individual student.

Oftentimes, Meaningful Student Involvement in school leadership can affect hundreds, if not thousands of students. Engaging students in these activities includes opportunities for them to be involved in decision-making, research, planning, evaluation, co-learning and advocacy.

Adam Fletcher works with student leaders who are improving their schools in Arizona.
Adam Fletcher works with student leaders who are improving their schools in Arizona.

This or That?

Are you wondering whether a school leadership activity is meaningful or not? Use this chart to help!

This: MeaningfulThat: Not Meaningful
Woven into the school improvement planIsolated activities that aren’t connected to any other process or outcomes
Funded educator champions and learning activities for studentsOne-time or unsustainable activities relying on charity or political will
Shared commitment and interest among students and educatorsTop-down, assigned activities from educators to students without consideration for student voice
Full-voting, fully-informed studentsNo- or low-powered activities without student authority or ability
Reflects a wider dedication to meaningful involvement with the whole school communityDivergent and unrelated activities
Stated learning goals with curricular base and awarded credits.Absence of learning goals or specific activities
This table illustrates the characteristics of Meaningful Student Involvement in school leadership activities.

Places in School Leadership


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Elsewhere Online

  • School Leadership Toolkit – Available from the European Policy Network on School Leadership (EPNoSL), this toolkit guides European schools as they reflection on school leaderhsip. The EPNoSL toolkit seeks to ensure that the issues of equity and learning achievement underlie reflections on school leadership policy planning and encourages all school leadership stakeholders, including policy makers, school heads, teachers, administrators, parents and pupils to engage in a constructive dialogue. Meaningful Student Involvement is mentioned in context.

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