Student Heads for the Day
Last year’s Founder’s Day saw two JAGS students win the opportunity to rule the school and become Head for the Day.
Naavya (Year 10) and Myfanwy’s (Year 12) long-awaited day in power finally arrived earlier this term.
From department meetings and deep dives through our archives to Coronation cake, below they explain how the day unfolded:
Throughout my time at both primary and secondary school, I’ve always wondered: What exactly is the role of a headteacher?
Finally, my question has been answered. I now not only know, but have experienced firsthand, the running of the well-oiled machine that is JAGS.
Myfanwy (my co-Head for the day) and I started out our busy day by handing out certificates to the girls at the Prep School assembly, and seeing the looks of accomplishment and pride as the girls collected their certificates was so rewarding! It was really satisfying to see them being awarded certificates for actions such as kindness and inclusivity as well as hard work and academic achievement. After the assembly, I met with the heads of section: Mrs Bournon (KS3), Mrs Jones (KS4) and Mr Weeks (Sixth Form) to discuss the development of pupils throughout their JAGS careers, what was going well and what we could do to improve. I think it was then, as we discussed revision techniques, phone use and life in the Sixth Form, that I realised the careful thought and consideration that goes into ensuring that everything runs smoothly and successfully across each year group.
The next thing that Myfanwy and I did was go down to the deep dark depths of the Holst Hall basement to meet with Ms Denham and Mr Carr, who make up our Marketing Department. Ms Denham explained the significance of marketing in representing and advertising JAGS, and we talked about the rebranding of the school and how we handle the website and the school’s social media. (Go and follow the JAGS Instagram!!) Mr Carr also talked to us about the JAGS newsletter, how the different parts are written and the importance of student involvement and input. It was interesting to see how JAGS appears to someone who is perhaps seeing it for the first time, or who may be unfamiliar with it.
As a passionate historian, this next part of our day was particularly fascinating for me; our meeting with Mrs Stein, our Head Librarian and Archivist. Myfanwy and I were absolutely taken in by her amazing discoveries about JAGS history and archives, and even saw the old registers and records for the very first members of staff. Seeing centuries of history, facilitated by those who lived a life so like ours, was other-worldly. It felt like a glitch in the Matrix! The final part of the day that I’ll talk about before Myfanwy takes over is our meeting with Mrs Walton. Together, the three of us created a survey about co-curricular activities and brainstormed some ideas for new clubs that we would like to see, so keep a look out!
Last Founder’s Day my mum won the prize of head for the day in the raffle, I had no idea what it would entail but I spent a while thinking about what I would like to change in the school and asking other people for their ideas. Instead of cancelling school (as suggested by a lot of people I spoke to) a brilliant day was planned for Naavya and I where we met with so many teams involved in the running of the school who were all equally keen to hear our opinions and answer our questions.
In our meeting with Miss Hira (Sustainability Lead) we heard about how the school is planning to achieve its long-term goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030. Firstly, switching the energy supplier to a truly green renewable energy company is easy and simply requires some extra money however changing people’s attitudes to consider sustainability when they make decisions is the most difficult yet the most effective way to reduce the carbon footprint of the school. We shared our suggestions about what the school could do to improve in this area including building more bike racks and educating people about the carbon emissions of different diets.
Next, meeting with Mrs Hutchinson in her lovely office was a nice break during an intense morning of non-stop meetings. It was eye-opening to learn just how little time a Head has for independent work. Mrs Hutchinson was very keen to hear about what was so great at school and what we would change. Naavya and I worked so well as a team as between us we had interests in music, drama, sport, dance, science, history and sustainability at JAGS. One topic of discussion was more recognition of achievements in music and drama during end of term prize-giving assemblies, and how to make PE and sports activities more inclusive and enjoyable to all.
It felt like such a privilege to be some of the first students to hear about the development plans for the school next year in our meeting with the Deputy Heads. They asked for our input on how pupils might respond to new changes. It felt like our opinions were really valued.
My favourite part of the day was hearing from Mrs Moorehead about the process of teacher feedback; it meant a lot to see just how much effort staff are putting in to constantly improve their own methods of teaching. We went to observe Mr Cooper leading the Year 12 History & Politics Society, which I usually attend. During the meeting students stood in a circle, each holding a string attached to a single balloon in the middle – demonstrating how the centre of power moves with the application of political pressure from different sides of society. Not only was it a brilliant lesson, but it was fascinating to observe it from a different angle and evaluate how the content was presented in a memorable and engaging way.
With Dr Peacock, Naavya and I discussed where best to place the form rooms for different year groups, and the possibility of having forms of both Years 10 and 11 – this year I have made such good friends with the Year 13s in my form I wish I had known them lower down the school so they weren’t leaving so soon!
We then returned to Mrs Hutchinson’s office where she thanked us for our hard work and input throughout the day. To end the day, Naavya and I were given a piece of the beautiful Coronation cake presented during the Junior School assembly that morning.
If there were to be one thing that I would suggest changing after my experience today, it would be more Prep and Senior school interaction. Participating in the Junior School assembly and seeing the Prep girls made me realise that more cross-year exchanges would benefit students in both the Prep and Senior schools, and further strengthen the JAGS community. Seeing all the work that goes on behind the scenes to make JAGS flow as a cohesive body was really enlightening and inspiring, and it surprised me to see just how much effort it takes from all the staff involved. It was also surprising to see just how many of these decisions and meetings were to do with pastoral and community focused objectives. Finally, one thing that I learnt from the experience was that when it comes to making such major decisions, especially when they affect a few hundred people, you can never please everyone. In my opinion, running a school is an art of diplomacy.
The most striking thing I learnt was that as a school our biggest sources of carbon emissions are transport and food waste, despite all the energy used for heating, lighting and manufacturing the huge amount of equipment we buy. It seems tragic how our worst impact comes from the things which are often the least necessary, however it also shows scope for change. One change I would like to see is reducing the amount of meat that is served for lunch as this has the potential to cause the biggest reduction in our carbon footprint over time and fit with the school’s new ethos of sustainability and moving forward in the world.