Centre News


International Study on Student Leadership Released

We are delighted to announce the publication of an international research report on student leadership at Round Square schools by Dr Ewan Wright, Prof Allan Walker, Dr Darren Bryant, Prof Moosung Lee, Dr Kanwal Syeda Hassan, and Mr Soobin Choi.

The pioneering study breaks new ground in terms of understanding the potential of students worldwide to learn and exert leadership for a better world.

The research involved online survey data collected from 6,760 students and 1,695 teachers across 34 countries. This data informed the framing, collection, and analysis of interview data from 93 students and 21 teachers at 12 schools worldwide. It provides new insights into (i) what leadership means to young people, (ii) the most effective experiences for building leadership skills, and (iii) the potential impact of student leadership.

The research team developed three propositions that concisely captured the major research findings.

Proposition 1: What it means to be an effective leader.
‘The students believed that communication, confidence, honesty, responsibility, and listening skills are the most important qualities of effective leaders. They also reported holding more systemic than hierarchical leadership attitudes and beliefs. Although many perceived an inter-generational gap with adults, there was more that united students and teachers than separated them in conceptualising leadership. Both groups valued leaders who support and positively influence others whilst working collaboratively towards a shared objective.’

Proposition 2: Leadership is built through experience.
‘Leadership can be built through diverse activities in and outside the classroom that provide opportunities to experience leadership responsibilities whilst working collaboratively towards a shared objective. Although more formal leadership roles and structured training can be valuable for building leadership, they may not increase leadership self-efficacy, as students become more self-aware and self-critical of their abilities. The students called on schools to expand leadership opportunities and to enable all students to experience leadership.’

Proposition 3: All students can be effective leaders.
‘Effective leadership is a learnt skill that can be built by all students over time through experience. Leadership experience should be integral to schools as it provides both personal benefits to students and enables them to contribute to others. Students have significant potential to bring about positive change. Therefore, students should be included in decision-making processes to leverage their potential to make a positive impact on schools, societies, and globally.’












The research team developed three propositions that concisely captured the major research findings. The research underlines the value of practical leadership experience, the leadership potential of young people, and young people's capacity to drive positive change. It also points to the importance of schools providing opportunities for all students to experience leadership for their personal development and to empower them to contribute to schools, societies, and globally.

To learn more about the Study, please click here. The Round Square organisation has released the full report on its website.