Never too young to take over: Leamington children rule the roost for a day

You may be forgiven for thinking that something was amiss in Leamington when a ten-year-old was in charge of a school and teenagers were advising on healthcare services and ‘arresting’ suspected criminals.

Maddy, Andrejs, Chantelle, Shelby and Hannah are seen with thoughts about their GP reception service as they 'take over' at Healthwatch at the Brunswick Healthy Living Centre in Leamington.
Maddy, Andrejs, Chantelle, Shelby and Hannah are seen with thoughts about their GP reception service as they 'take over' at Healthwatch at the Brunswick Healthy Living Centre in Leamington.

But all was well as the youngsters were taking part in the national Take Over Day last Friday, which gave them the chance to step into the shoes, for one day, of adult professionals in a variety of sectors.

At St Paul’s Primary School in Leamington, ten-year-old year six pupil Harry Baker took on the role of headteacher, while the school’s real head, Matthew Bown, stepped aside and offered guidance only if needed.

Among Harry’s duties were monitoring at play-time, meeting with parents, the chair of governors and parent-teacher association, writing newsletters to parents, taking a lesson and leading a whole school assembly.

St Paul's Primary School pupil Harry Baker is headteacher for the day, seen with 'demoted' head Matthew Bown.

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Mr Bown said: “Harry was very confident and well prepared. He made his own decisions and pupils were called in to be congratulated by him for their achievements and also to be told off for bad behaviour.

“I have done it before when I was at a school in Leicestershire and it worked very well there, so I was really pleased to see it went just as well here.

“It was not tokenistic. It genuinely was Harry performing the role. He proved that if you give children that power and responsibility, they can rise to the occasion.”

Children and young people also ‘took over’ at the health guidance consumer organisation Healthwatch, at the Brunswick Healthy Living Centre in Leamington’s Old Town, while at the Warwickshire Justice Centre in Leamington, Warwickshire Police gave youngsters the chance to ‘arrest’ suspects, spend time in the Chief Constable’s office, make decisions with the police dog unit, patrol schools with their neighbourhood police teams and review council tax police precept options.