How are schools preparing the next generation of leaders?

It won’t be long before Generation Alpha are in charge – but will they be ready for the top jobs? Employment trends indicate that emerging generations will dominate senior leadership positions quicker than their predecessors due to their agility and soft skills. We asked Mentone Grammar Deputy Principal, Jarrod O’Neill, how schools are preparing students for this important responsibility. 

Over time there has been a distinct cultural shift towards leadership positions being appointed based on soft skills rather than the more traditional aspects of length of service or technical capacity. This has paved the way for young talent to reach leadership positions much quicker than ever before. Therefore, it is increasingly important that schools start early in supporting students with leadership aspirations to develop the skills they need to be effective, ethical and prosperous. 

Providing leadership opportunities for students is not a new concept in schools. At Mentone Grammar, we have long utilised a system of peer mentorship to empower the student body. However, in order to be responsive to changing labour market demands, schools need to be more intentional and outcome-focused in training students with leadership aspirations. 


The answer to a real world problem. 

At Mentone Grammar, we have recently implemented an innovative new component to our school Leadership Program aimed at delivering more tangible outcomes for students which will give them a head-start from the outset of their careers. Commencing in Year 9, students are required to achieve proficiencies in a comprehensive range of soft skills that closely align with our 7 Core Values, over 1.5 years. The program culminates in a qualification called the Student Leadership Diploma which permits students to apply for a Leadership Position in their senior years, actioning their learning.   

“Inherent to the program is the belief that leadership skills can be learned and they are not, as commonly thought, something you are born with.”

What’s involved in the Student Leadership Diploma?

Leadership is increasingly a collaborative function, rather than command or control. The ability to empower a team, earn respect and lead by example is invaluable to a future leader. The Leadership Diploma challenges students to be outstanding role models and do so consistently, as a true leader doesn’t turn it ‘on and off’ as required. 

The Diploma assesses student engagement and conduct across six facets of school life: Academic Attitude and Approach, Cocurricular Program, House and School Events, Social Service, Citizenship and Leadership Workshops. Students are challenged to develop their own style of leadership with greater self-awareness and an understanding of differing personalities. They are encouraged to be independent, strategic and critical thinkers, while also being ethical, caring and responsible in their pursuits. 

Service to the community is a large component of the Student Leadership Diploma. This unit instils a sense of responsibility for leaders to be selfless and make a positive contribution to both their local and global communities.  


Leadership is not for everyone.  

One of the greatest strengths of the program is that students need to ‘opt-in’. By acknowledging that not every student will realise an aspiration to lead during their school years, we identify a cohort of like-minded students who are self-driven to get the most out of their experiences. Synonymous with Mentone Grammar’s philosophy of a well-rounded education where all students graduate with a breadth of experiences, every Year 9 student is required to participate in the first two workshops to sample the program, before they choose whether to continue. Inherent to the program is the belief that leadership skills can be learned and they are not, as commonly thought, something you are born with.

Through this exciting initiative, we are supporting Mentone Grammar students to become world leaders of the future, whose positive impact will make us all proud. 


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