Young people and leadership : questions of access in secondary schools

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Emerson, Sue
Ferkins, Dr Lesley
Bryham, Gaye
Sieuw, Mieke
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Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
secondary schools
New Zealand
youth leadership
student leadership
student leadership in secondary schools
informal leadership
Emerson,S., Ferkins L., Bryham G. and Sieuw, M. (2016). Young people and leadership: Questions of access in secondary schools. (Unitec ePress Occasional & Discussion Paper Series 2016/3). Unitec ePress. ISSN 2324-3635 Retrieved from
There is seemingly an abundance of leadership opportunities available to youth within school environments, including sport captaincy, sport coaching, prefect roles, and assigned arts or cultural leadership. For many students, the opportunity to captain a sports team, or lead an event or activity is perceived as their first taste of leadership action. However, as evidenced in a growing body of literature (Jackson & Parry, 2011), leadership is increasingly being conceived as much more than an assigned formal position. Furthermore, there is some evidence to suggest that formal leadership roles may be presenting barriers for students wishing to access leadership opportunities in a more informal capacity (McNae, 2011). In this conceptual article, we examine the value and nature of informal leadership practices, and from this, identify questions of access to leadership for youth in secondary school settings. Specifically, the aim of our paper is to advance current conceptualisations about youth leadership and to offer future research directions (via questions) to establish a deeper evidence base for better understanding access to leadership for youth. To achieve this, we explore three interrelated themes: leadership practices and accessibility for youth; learning through leadership for youth ; youth access and the notion that leadership belongs to everybody. As a result of the platform provided by our conceptualising, a series of questions are presented for future research. Directions for future research relate to understanding more about formal and informal leadership opportunities in the secondary school context, what we will hear when we listen to the student’s voice about access to these opportunities, and how informal leadership opportunities might influence overall access to leadership for students.
Unitec ePress
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Unitec ePress
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Young People and Leadership: Questions of Access in Secondary Schools by Sue Emerson, Lesley Ferkins, Gaye Bryham and Mieke Sieuw, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 New Zealand
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