‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’ - Margaret Mead
Are you a news devotee who tunes into the evening bulletin each night, or a news on the hop type? Either way, it has become part of our daily life with breaking alerts pinging on phones, news stories popping up on social media feeds and office chatter and dinner conversations following up on items of interest. It’s not only the way we consume news that has changed over recent times; we have seen young people taking centre stage. In a climate when many have felt despair, we have a seen a rise in young people speaking up on behalf of future generations and demonstrating their capacity to help make social change. And, while some such as Greta, Grace and Malala have made the headlines, millions of young people worldwide are working at a grassroots level to raise awareness for the issues that mean the most to them, issues such as climate change, racial and gender equality and economic change.
Ruyton has a long and proud history of believing in our students and their capacity to enact change. In education this is broadly understood as student advocacy. Although there is no globally agreed definition for student advocacy, the OECD Learning Compass Report espouses ‘it’s about acting rather than being acted upon; shaping rather than being shaped; and making responsible decisions and choices rather than accepting those determined by others.’ At Ruyton we embrace a culture that values the views and perspectives of others, as this helps our community and individuals to feel empowered, contributing to shaping a better future for all. From Early Learning through to the senior years, students have many opportunities to share their ideas, their feedback, co-create events and run student-led initiatives. We do this because of the powerful benefits of listening to and acting on student voice – including increasing engagement and motivation in learning, encouraging collaboration between students and teachers, and creating a positive environment and culture.
This year at Ruyton we have seen many examples of our students taking the lead and educating our student body about diversity and inclusion. Through events, learning and actions, they have focused on the strength of being part of a global community and the importance of welcoming all into our community to feel safe, empowered and surrounded by those who support them.
Now, more than ever, youth advocacy in the pursuit of genuine and lasting change is ever-present. If we reflect upon one of the many benefits of girls’ education, we need look no further than the cultivation of an environment that nurtures student empowerment, where students find their voice and raise each other up to better the local and global communities in which they live. It is in this environment that our Ruyton students grow and thrive as they continue to challenge themselves and the world around them.
Head of Senior School
Ruyton Girls’ School
Head of Junior School
Ruyton Girls’ School