Leaders of their peers: Head girl power

Musician Jamie Cullum is sending his album to head girls nationwide. Will they be impressed? Or are they rather more sophisticated than that? Arifa Akbar and Elaine Barker gauge their world views
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How did you become head girl?

I was elected by the staff and student body.

Can a head girl ever be cool?

Well, head girl is no different to anyone else. Coolness is in the eye of the beholder.

What was the last CD you bought?

Coldplay - X&Y; Karl Jenkins Requiem

What do you plan to do when you leave school?

I hope to go to Cambridge University to study English literature on a Choral Scholarship.

Who are your role models?

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Nevil Shute, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and my dad.

If you were prime minister, what would you do first?

Endeavour to support the Karen people in Burma, in particular to save them from the genocide they are suffering.

Which do you prefer, Prince Harry or Kevin Pietersen?

Who is Kevin Pietersen?

Can women have it all?

No one can have it all.

Is there pressure on girls to look a certain way?

There is pressure from the media on girls to look a certain way but I don't feel any pressure myself

Who will you vote for at the next general election?

Conservative.

Does everyone want to be famous these days?

No. There are many who have no wish to be in the public eye.

Vicky Lebedva, 17, ST MARYLEBONE COMPREHENSIVE SCHOOL, LONDON

How did you become head girl?

I got voted in by the sixth-form students and teachers. I think it's great doing it democratically, rather than having a teacher saying "you're the one". I don't think being a head girl is about popularity but about getting to know the students and being friendly with them, helping out whenever someone needs you.

Can a head girl ever be cool?

In Marylebone, we're like one big family. Everyone knows each other; we've all gone out together. We don't really have any "cool" cliques. There's no popularity contest.

What was the last CD you bought/downloaded?

I can't remember. I tend to just download songs. I like music, but I don't really keep track of what I buy or listen to.

What do you plan to do when you leave school?

Go to university to study law. I enjoy law and debating a lot. I think it's all about helping people and speaking up for them.

Can women have it all?

Definitely. I go to a girls' school, so we are brought up thinking about that question. Women want more and they think it's achievable.

Who are your role models?

Anyone who achieves great things through great effort. People who stand up for what they believe in.

If you were prime minister, what would be the first thing you would do?

I would probably want to sort out education and money lending to schools like mine, who don't really get a lot of funding from the Government.

Prince Harry or Kevin Pietersen?

Probably the skunk. I didn't get into the cricket but I thought "rock on England" when they won. As far as the royals go, I've got nothing against them.

Is there pressure on young girls to look a certain way?

It's all about trying to be perfect. But I want to spend my life knowing I'm not perfect because you can't be perfect.

Who will you vote for at the next general election?

I have no idea. I haven't got a political mind. I need to read up on it. I might follow my parents.

Does everyone want to be famous these days?

To some extent. I know a few girls who want to be famous, but they want to be famous for achieving things.

Rachel Williams, 17, WOLVERHAMPTON GIRLS HIGH

How did you become head girl?

The whole year votes together for people they think would be suitable candidates. Then you make an application and attend an interview with the headteacher and other senior staff. They make the final decision.

Can a head girl ever be cool?

I hope so. I wanted to be in the prefect team from my first year of senior school and always looked up to the head girl.

What was the last CD you bought/downloaded?

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' greatest hits.

What do you plan to do when you leave school?

I would like to study history and move into something like media, law, teaching or journalism - I really like the research side.

Who are your role models?

Probably my dad, who is a surgeon. He was a farmer's son and didn't come from a prosperous background and has achieved a lot. He wasn't academically brilliant but built himself up in his field.

If you were Prime Minister, what is the first thing you would do?

I really like the Lib Dem policy of a supertax for the very rich. This would go some way to reducing the increasing gap between rich and poor.

Can women have it all?

Women are as capable of achieving as men but marriage and children do impede a woman's career still.

Prince Harry or Kevin Pietersen?

Kevin Pietersen, but I really don't like his hair. He looks like a badger.

Is there pressure on young girls to look a certain way?

I don't feel it at school, but outside, I'm very conscious of appearances.

Who will you vote for in the next general election?

My dad votes Conservative, but I'm undecided. Charles Kennedy is the most sincere politician around at the moment - the others are too polished.

Does everyone want to be famous these days?

Everyone wants to be recognised for what they do, but I certainly don't want to be famous for the sake of it. I'd like to be famous for something like winning the Booker Prize.

Rana Karadal, 15, ISLINGTON GREEN SCHOOL, LONDON

How did you become head girl?

I got nominated by the teacher and students in year 11, partly for good attendance, good behaviour, tidy appearance and they thought I was trustworthy.

Can a head girl ever be cool?

Yeah, you don't have to look a certain way. As long as you're a good student and someone responsible who can be counted on to be a role model to younger students. You can be cool as well, of course.

What was the last CD you bought/downloaded?

Mariah Carey's latest CD, The Emancipation of Mimi.

What do you plan to do when you leave school?

I will carry on with my studies at college and university. I want to do business, maths and media, and then work in banking or accountancy. That interests me.

Who are your role models?

The biggest influence would be my mum.Generally, my role models are people who are responsible and can stand up for themselves and show the world something different!

If you were prime minister, what you do first?

I would give people more human rights. What's happened regarding terrorism, and taking people in and holding them for whatever they want is not right, I think. Also, I would try and cut crime by making punishment harder so we can have safer streets. The areas near where I live in Hackney are just not safe.

Can women have it all?

I think they can, partly because many women are organised and set timetables around balancing families and part-time jobs. Not every woman can do it but there are some who can. I think sexism still exists but we are freer now than women in the past.

Which do you prefer - Prince Harry or Kevin Pietersen?

Prince Harry is alright and the idea of royalty doesn't bother me. They're in their world and we're in ours.

Is there pressure on young girls to look a certain way?

Yes, there is quite a lot of pressure on girls to make themselves more attractive. There is a lot of pressure to be fit, and many girls think if they are fit, they'll be more attractive. The pressure comes mainly from the people around you, other girls and what they look like and what they're wearing.

Kate Ross, 17, CHELTENHAM LADIES COLLEGE, CHELTENHAM

How did you become head girl?

At Cheltenham, we have a very democratic system. I was voted for by the rest of the prefect body, who in turn were voted for by the students and staff.

Can a head girl be cool?

Yes. I think there is often a generic image of the typical head girl and in reality we are just normal people.

What was the last CD you bought/downloaded?

Coldplay - X&Y.

What do you plan to do when you leave school?

I am hoping to go straight to university to study Spanish.

Who are your role models?

Jane Austen, Audrey Hepburn (not only her life as an actress but also her work for the UN) and my parents.

If you were prime minister, what would be the first thing you would do?

I am aware of how fortunate I have been to come to Cheltenham, and I would like to see our system provide similar opportunities for all students regardless of their background.

Is there pressure on girls to look a certain way?

There is pressure from some of the media for girls to fit a body type, but there have been campaigns trying to help girls be happy with who they are and feel good about themselves.

Who will you vote for at the next general election?

I am not eligible to vote in this country.

Does everyone want to be famous these days?

I think that secretly everyone yearns for 15 minutes of fame.

Claudia Rowe, 18, KING EDWARD VI FIVE WAYS, BIRMINGHAM

How did you become head girl?

You have to apply and then make a presentation to the senior staff.

Can a head girl ever be cool?

You don't have to be a geek to get the job, but you do have to be organised.

What was the last CD you bought/downloaded?

I can't remember, but I spend all my money on clothes. I love Indie music, but also Motown and the band Daft Punk.

What do you plan to do when you leave school?

I want to study English and French at a university.

Who are your role models?

My mum is my hero. She's so motivated. She was pushed into teaching when she was young, but left to become a poet.

If you were prime minister, what would be the first thing you would do?

Abolish tuition fees.

Can women have it all?

I think so. My mum earns more than my dad. She's so involve in so many things.

Prince Harry or Kevin Pietersen?

Kevin Pietersen. I love his hair.

Is there pressure on young girls to look a certain way?

In the media there is, but I've never felt it myself.

Who will you vote for in the next general election?

If Gordon Brown becomes Labour leader, I'll vote for him.

Does everyone want to be famous these days?

Most people I know just want recognition in their field.

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