Sunday 20 October 2019

Interview with Cheltenham Ladies' College's Senior Prefect

Cheltenham Ladies' College's Senior Prefect and head girl, Zara Norman, talks to SoGlos about her coveted role, the school's unrivalled facilities, and its outstanding co-curricular programme.

Offering an insight into life at Cheltenham Ladies’ College and her role as Senior Prefect, Zara Norman talks to SoGlos about attending the world-famous independent school and her future aspirations.

Discussing the independent school’s curricular and co-curricular programme, its eagerly-awaited new Health and Fitness Centre, and inspirational alumni, discover more about CLC in this insightful interview.

Can you tell readers a little bit about yourself and your education at Cheltenham Ladies’ College?

My name is Zara, I’m from Cheltenham and I’ve been a day and boarding student at Cheltenham Ladies’ College since LC1 (our name for Year 7). I’m a Sixth Former and an IB (International Baccalaureate) student, and among my subjects am particularly focused on my Higher Level studies of Classical Greek, English Literature, and History.

To me, living and learning at CLC has meant the freedom to try anything and everything. To be both a classicist and a scientist, a musician and a historian, a thespian and a mathematician – all within the short space of seven years. I’m really enjoying my time here!

How and why did you become Senior Prefect at Cheltenham Ladies’ College?

The process was a pretty intense, with two rounds of student and staff voting, two written application essays, and two interviews. I actually found it really interesting and liked how democratic everything was.

It definitely made me feel more confident going into my role this year. I know that in some schools the head teachers appoint a pupil and dictate the students’ representation to them. Knowing that the committee of prefects elected are truly representative of the student body is quite special.

I applied for Senior Prefect, as I’ve been actively involved in student life for years. Through this heavy involvement, I’ve met all kinds of incredible and diverse people, and I felt I could represent the students and some of the amazing things they’re doing around school.

What responsibilities does the role of Senior Prefect entail?

Before taking on the role, I didn’t realise the full weight of the expectations on you as Senior Prefect. Going about your daily life, you have a responsibility to be a role model to hundreds of students, which is a little intimidating.

On a more regular basis, I organise my group of 35 prefects, manage administrative tasks such as emails and morning notices, meet with the principal, and organise school events throughout the year.

It’s a lot of work and pressure, but I wouldn’t change it for anything!

What advice would you give to a student hoping to become a prefect?

I’d say talk to people! Make friends through getting involved in clubs, in your house or around classes. Getting to know all different types of people will help you understand more of the rich tapestry that makes up school life and give you a firm student base backing you in the race to become a prefect.

I’d also say have a clear vision, think about your school and what you think should change. It’s all very well and good to have a strong base, but the real question is, what are you going to do with it?

How do you think becoming involved with school life helps students?

We’re expected to have an average of five careers in our lifetimes. Getting involved in as many activities as possible at this age can only mean more adaptability and transferability of skills in the workplace. Starting clubs and activities is also incredible leadership practice.

It’s also really great for your relaxation and wellbeing to be taken away from the strains of academic life for a couple of hours, through an activity you love. I couldn’t recommend it more.

How do you maintain the balance between your studies and duties as Senior Prefect?

It can be a little tough. I find that knuckling down and making the most of every second of free periods and free time during the day is really helpful in freeing up my evenings. Getting things done early and carefully, particularly smaller administrative tasks, has been my strategy for the most part.

What are the main advantages of an education at Cheltenham Ladies’ College?

I’d say the diversity of the school is one of my favourite features. As a girl from Cheltenham, I’ve learned so much about cultures that are so vastly different from my own. The range of perspectives and opinions in debates has been intellectually invigorating and unique.

CLC finds an amazing, enriching balance between the local community of Cheltenham and its core of day students, and the global mindedness brought from international students from all around the world.

Cheltenham Ladies’ College places importance on Physical Education; do you enjoy this aspect of school life, and what do you think are the benefits?

I have absolutely benefited from the emphasis on Physical Education at CLC. As a netball player, I get to train with talented coaches, and play teams from all around the county and beyond in matches, almost on a weekly basis.

Regarding sport in College, I know everyone is most excited about the new Health and Fitness Centre. From what I’ve seen it’s going to transform the wellbeing of so many students, because the benefits of sports are not only physical but mental. With the usual strains of school life, sport is great for team building and stress relief.

Can you tell us a little bit about the co-curricular activities on offer at Cheltenham Ladies’ College?

It’s definitely harder to think of a club that isn’t on offer at CLC than one that is! Sports are very popular – from lacrosse and volleyball, to touch rugby.

Music is also amazing at CLC, our main college choir and orchestra just went on a spectacular tour of Italy and have the chance to play in termly concerts, as well as taking trips to other beautiful venues around the country.

There are countless opportunities that I could name, with such impressive student leadership behind each one. The amazing thing about co-curriculars at CLC is that so long as there is student interest, staff availability, and passion, girls can create any club they so choose, and start to realise their leadership dreams.

Is there anyone from Cheltenham Ladies’ College’s alumnae who you admire?

Jennifer Caudwell, who is now a senior UK commercial airline pilot. I’m actually currently taking flying lessons and working towards my license. Despite some of the obstacles I’ve found, because of the stigma around women in aviation, I take great inspiration from a woman who was in my position a decade ago and has succeeded in this field!

And finally, what are your aspirations once you’ve left Cheltenham Ladies’ College?

Between this, UCAS, and my parents, I get asked this one a lot! I know I’d like to study Classics at university because it is one of my greatest passions, but beyond this I’m quite unsure.

Whatever I end up gravitating towards, I know that my time at Cheltenham Ladies’ College will have prepared me to make up my mind, or to confidently change it time and time again, for any and all eventualities.

For more information about what Cheltenham Ladies’ College can offer visit directly.

© SoGlos
Monday 06 November 2017

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