A CASE STUDY: BLUE EAGLE HIGH SCHOOL, COSMO CITY, GAUTENG
Posted / 06 November 2017
Situated in Cosmo City, between Randburg and Northriding, the informal settlements of Itsoseng and the plots of KyaSands is Blue Eagle High School. It is an assembly of mobile units. The ‘no fee quintile 1’ school serves learners who, for the most part, come from families which rely on government social grants. However, it is not the poverty of the area that strikes you when you enter the school ground. Rather, it is the effort that is made to make the most of what there is, that stands out: the mobiles are decorated, and small gardens have been created around them. Since the Columba academies of 2015 and 2016, this is also a school that is working to maximize the talents of youth leadership, as well as partnerships between adults and learners.
Mobilisation and Institutionalisation of values and youth engagement:
After the academy the group used discussions about values to mobilise the involvement of their peers. After two years the network of engaged young Columbans, and their recruits, has grown to 75 members. The adults who graduated from the academy have also ensured that values are part of every staff meeting. Values-based leadership and youth action have become an integral part of the culture of the school and a contributor to the achievement of the school improvement plan. This bodes well for the institutionalization of youth leadership and engagement for the school. The Columbans, the Representative Council of Learners, and other youth structures at the school, work as one leadership team. The school ran its own leadership academy, modelled on Columba’s academy, to induct the leaders.
The leadership structure includes a number of committees including: Environmental Affairs, Education, Campus Affairs, Outreach, Discipline and Finance and Administration. Eight Columbans have taken up leadership positions within each of these committees. A duty roster ensures that committee members are involved in education, gardening, tuckshop duty, the feeding scheme and gate duty.
‘What Columba and Blue Eagle has achieved in social and emotional learning is miraculous. I know how hard this is to do.’ – Ian McLachlan, Former Headmaster of St Stithians
The group hold a range of responsibilities including:
• Gate duty aimed at creating a safer, more focused school environment, by ensuring weapons, drug and cell phones are not brought to school on a daily basis.
• Recycling on a weekly basis to raise funds for the leadership camp and other group requirements in addition to other fundraising activities.
• Monitoring and engagement of learners in leadership talks and activities in the classroom when educators are in meetings.
• Reducing conflict situations around the tuck shop.
• Care of the school vegetable garden to supplement the school feeding scheme.
Being a Catalytic School:
The activities of the group also include outreach and engagement of other schools including:
• Annual leadership conference with 6 other high schools (including both Columban and non-Columba schools).
• Primary school outreach – sharing values with Grade 7 learners from feeder primary schools in an attempt to groom them to be ready for high school.
Blue Eagle High School has therefore become a catalytic school promoting values and leadership at neighbouring schools.
The Blue Eagles leadership academy works because of the effectiveness of the partnership between adults and youth. Youth meet daily to hear about the goals identified by the sub-committees. The executive team meets weekly to give feedback on their committees, and the educators involved with the academy meet and feedback to the principal on a weekly basis. The group of young people meet with the principal on a monthly basis to give an update and report on what has been implemented and how the group is doing. On a quarterly basis the groups give feedback to the entire school.