The College Leadership team is a new concept introduced to The Mount in September. It divides the responsibilities, traditionally held by the Head Girl assisted by her deputies, equally between four College II girls. The revamped arrangement reduces the pressure on individuals, while giving a more equitable recognition to each girl. Taking this exciting new step in Mount history this academic year are: Kelly, Amy, Grace and Isobel.
You don’t have to talk to the girls for long to gain a sense of the honour they feel to be part of the first College Leadership Team. Talk a bit longer and a maturity beyond their years becomes increasingly apparent as we discuss the qualities required to be a good leader.
What does “good leadership” mean to you?
Amy: Compassion and understanding the people you are trying to lead. It means knowing your classmates, knowing the girls in the school and remembering what it’s like to be in their position particularly those who are in the lower years.
Isobel: A mixture of courage and kindness are important qualities. Having the courage to make the decisions, but at the same time not making anyone feel left out while listening to their ideas. You make the final decision, but it is ultimately everyone’s ideas coming together.
Grace: It’s important to get everyone’s opinions before you make the decision, so that they feel involved too.
Kelly: Being a good leader means being organised and working as a team. You have to be organised because you have to sort people to do different jobs to make the system work efficiently.
Describe a typical school day
Grace: We come in for 8.30am, get registered and then go in to Morning Meeting.
Amy: For Morning Meeting, we stand in the corridor or outside the Hall to ensure quiet and be a presence for the students. Every Meeting we read the Text for that day. We can’t always pronounce the names of the quote.
Isobel: I always get the longest names.
Grace: On Mondays, we have Choc Lunch with the Principal. We review with her what’s gone on and what is coming up to keep her in the loop of what’s happening. For instance, On Saturday we went to Quakers In Yorkshire, so we gave her an update on what happened there.
Kelly: At the moment, we are planning College Forum and School Council.
Amy: We’re getting the Agendas together for those. The day-to-day tasks are delegated to whoever has the least amount of work at that moment. We make sure everyone in College is sticking to their rota and picking up their responsibilities. Liaising between Mr Spiers and the College students is a big part of this.
Grace: Every week we have College Specials. (*This is a series of talks, lectures and presentations on life in the world outside of school.)
Amy: At Specials, we’re responsible for thanking the speakers, who generally come in for free so it’s important that they know how much we appreciate them for giving up their time to come and speak to us. Last week we had Alcoholics Anonymous, which was really interesting. Members of AA were talking about their experiences with the group and with alcoholism, which is a big problem in this country. It was really eye-opening to hear about that.
Isobel: It was in stark contrast to when we have universities come to speak, but I think what’s nice about Specials is there’s such a variety of things. Every time you go, there’s always something new you can learn about organisations that are really handy to know about.
Amy: York Food Bank came in and talked to us about how we, as a school and as individuals, can help them. York has a quite a serious homelessness problem and Foodbank rely entirely on donations from the public, so giving that platform for outreach to young people, and making young people aware of that issue, is important.
Isobel: It also fits in with our Quaker ethos of improving our social conscience and is another important element of Specials.
Amy: It’s good to broaden everyone’s world view.
What are your favourite things at The Mount?
Amy: I really like the Library. Shout out for the Library! The way that the Quaker ethos really does genuinely permeate the community.
Grace: Especially in College, we have lots of small class sizes, which is amazing. In German, I have three people in my class, which is practically like teaching 1:1. The teachers go over it with you again and again if you don’t understand it.
Amy: In History, we have coursework, which is quite a long essay. Because we’re a small class, we get to go through every tiny bit of every piece of work. You get in-depth guidance with everything you could possibly need.
Isobel: I love the Common Room. It’s so lovely when we can just sit together and come together as a College. That relaxation with your friends.
Kelly: It’s the Chemistry and Science labs! As a boarder, you get the chance to live with everyone. When we are in School, we don’t get a lot of opportunity to talk with each other. But when we’re in the boarding house we talk about everything.
Amy: You’re really not going to find anywhere else that is like The Mount. It’s certainly niche. I think that there is something that every single person can take out from this experience. If you’re coming in for Year 7, the space that you have to grow up at your own pace is really under-rated. It’s that opportunity to have space to grow up and explore who you are as a person and really grow into someone with strong morals and a strong sense of self which is really cultivated by this environment. I think that’s something you really don’t get anywhere else.
Kelly: I think the special thing is this school is you know everyone. When you walk past, you can say ‘Hi’ to everyone. Compared to other schools, I think our school girls get along with each other more. We always chat to each other.
Grace: I think that coming into College, we are all Peer Mentors. We are all Form Seniors, we have girls who go and have talks with individuals and try to help them. It’s nice to have that community feel. The Mount has some weird traditions, but they are all really good. It’s really, really good.
Isobel: It’s the most unique place I’ve ever been to. I think the biggest difference for me is the amount of support you get here. There is an infinite number of people, members of staff Reflections or students, who you can go to talk to if you are ever worried at all or anxious or stressed about anything. You’ve always got this massive support network you can go to. I think it’s important if you’re doing exams or whatever you’re going to do, everyone is there to support you in what you choose. I think this is really important and special to this school. They encourage you to be you, just be yourself. There is definitely a strong message that girls can do anything, nothing can stand in a girl’s way. That has really stuck with me having come here from a co-ed school.