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The changing of the guard

Our former Second Master reviews the role of Prefect at Bryanston...

The role of Prefect is a long-standing tradition in schools, particularly in independent schools, and has evolved over time. It is a tradition that Bryanston has always kept as part of the et vetera, in my opinion, for good reason. 

During this term the current School Prefects step aside from their duties to focus on their exams. It is at this time, as forty A3 pupils acquire the role of Acting School Prefect for the term, that I often reflect on what the role of Prefect means for both the school and for the pupils concerned. 

At Bryanston being selected as a Prefect is not about popularity, but is more about being well esteemed and respected by both the staff and pupil bodies. The selection process involves separate rounds of voting by the whole school, A3 pupils and staff and it is interesting to note that there is rarely a significant inconsistency between those nominated by A3 pupils and those nominated by staff. For me, there are a number of key qualities that a Prefect needs and these include efficiency, reliability, understanding, empathy, objectivity and knowledge. This is not about fitting a particular mould or style; it is about the individual and what they can bring to, and gain from, the role. Our Prefects have a variety of styles and strengths which combine to make an effective team, contributing to the smooth running of the school and the pastoral support of other pupils. 

Most Prefect responsibilities carried out at Bryanston take place within the boarding houses, but there are also responsibilities at the school level. Some of these are relatively straightforward and include helping to organise the Dining Hall queue, helping with Prep duties and helping to ensure pupil compliance with punctuality by issuing early morning reportings (EMRs). Prefects need to learn how to enforce their will with only limited sanction to support this. This takes a certain amount of natural leadership, self-belief and presence, as well as the ability to assess a situation quickly and pick up on any nuances before reacting. During this term the current Acting School Prefects are developing the skills they will need to be successful if they are chosen as Prefects for next year. 

Becoming a Prefect does mean additional responsibilities for those concerned. It also benefits pupils in that they learn key skills needed in the wider world, as well as gaining an insight into how their school is run, as they attend weekly meetings with the Head and myself, as well as getting involved in organising various events, including Charities Day and the Leavers’ Ball. 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the outgoing Prefects for their commitment over the past year and wish the Acting School Prefects all the best for the rest of this term and into next year – I am looking forward to working with you.

Tagged  Sixth form  Reflection