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Prefect Elinor Davies writes opinion piece regarding new role during work experience

Prefect Elinor Davies writes opinion piece regarding new role during work experience

Prefects at Rydal Penrhos

Sixth Form pupil Elinor Davies is spending the week at the school's marketing department, where she is getting a crash course in journalism from Communications Assistant Dean Jones.

Her latest task was to produce an opinion piece regarding her new role as a Prefect, what she expects to get from the role and what she can bring to it:

By definition, a prefect is “a senior pupil who is authorised to enforce discipline”. This makes the role sound slightly like the NKVD, so I am curious to find out what the position really entails.

Throughout the application process, both Mr Lavery and Mr Smith were keen to stress the responsibility and importance of the prefect role – giving talks about how to cope with rebellious Year 10s and how we should be shining examples to the younger years of school.  From this, the position sounded very appealing.

When all the applications were in and the decisions had been made, the Ferguson Centre was a place of mixed emotions from success and failure. What struck me most about this meeting was the subdued atmosphere once everyone had opened their letters, those who were successful were the quickest to comfort and talk to those who weren’t and there was no smugness to be seen.

The first prefect meeting with Mr Lavery had us analysing why we wanted the role and what we looked forward to within it and what sort of leader we were and how this would affect a team environment. We then discussed the importance of ties; to tie or not to tie? As exciting as this sounds, I couldn’t help but be put down by it: it all seemed rather self-righteous and self-indulgent.

Being a prefect was heralded as an enormous privilege and responsibility by the staff members in the months leading up to the appointments, but when I thought of the prefect teams from the last few years, I did not relate to what they were saying.

I had never been helped by a prefect before, nor had I ever been ‘disciplined’ by one. To me, they were not a particularly relevant or important aspect of school life.

This may, however, just be my experience of them; perhaps I never really needed their help with anything and I have never done anything that called for discipline (I am so sad that my tie and top button are done up even at home). I am sure that for other pupils, the prefects have been a source of great help.

From the short time the prefects have been given any sort of power, I have found that the biggest responsibility for us is attending duties and helping in school events. Instead of being the ‘faces’ of the school, we simply help out behind the scenes – welcoming parents, serving drinks and making sure the pupils look smart at lunch.

This probably makes me sound very ungrateful for the position but I am not, it feels nice to be entrusted with these duties by people who think you are capable to help out the school. So I shall endeavour to help in every way I can so as to avoid disappointing them.

I think, however, if the staff want the prefects to be as important and impactful as they made them out to be, they need to give us more responsibility and power to enforce the school rules.

Presently, no serious behavioural or disciplinary matters can be influenced by us; we are not made aware of such occurrences. We enforce the minor rules like having your hair tied back and having your uniform styled neatly.

This gives you a little ego boost – seeing people do things just because you told them to, but I doubt whether this would have any serious impact on the school. At the same time though, I question whether such responsibility to make more serious decisions should be granted to us: the power may go to our heads and we would become hideous human beings.

I also believe this is not the most important responsibility for a prefect. I did not apply for the role in order to shout at people and become a pseudo teacher, I wanted to see more of school life by attending events such as school concerts, parents evening and prep school plays. I was on duty at the latter and really enjoyed it, apart from the free food I was able to see a drama production by the prep school for the first time since I left and it brought back many sweet memories.

What I look forward to most in the coming year, therefore, is to simply be a helpful person to others and complete any jobs that they are too busy to do, and hopefully enjoy myself along the way by immersing myself deeper into the school.

Mr Smith asked each prefect what legacy they wished to leave as a prefect team and I have decided that I want the prefects of 2017/18 to have more of a presence with the pupils and be different from the teams I have seen (or not seen more to the point) who aren’t really noticed by the pupils.

To be a group of people who are turned to by pupils as well as teachers when they need help would be a good legacy. The only aspect of the prefect role I would change, therefore, is the massive hoo-ha that comes with it as I doubt it is as important as we have been lead to believe.  

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