Last week, 80 pupils joined together at three locations around the country to launch United Learning’s Primary Student Leadership Programme for 2016/17.
The three regional events – in London, Manchester and Kettering – introduced a new group of pupils to the programme which aims to teach them about leadership styles, public speaking and social action. The children taking part, each of whom were selected by teachers for their leadership potential, came from 15 schools from around the Group from Langford Primary in London to High Hazels Academy in Sheffield.
The events took pupils through a range of activities designed to get them thinking about important local and global issues. They played ‘issues bus’, a game in which they ‘travelled’ to different problems and chose what side they were on, before hosting a mini debate. Some of the topics explored were whether it was more important to have fresh water or an education, to protect animals or people and to have food or shelter.
Pupils were also tasked with presenting to the rest of the group on a given issue – for example homelessness, refugees and climate change – and explaining why it was important to tackle them. Part of this was exploring the benefits and drawbacks of raising awareness and donating money to support charities.
The other key aim of these events was to build pupils’ confidence in their leadership abilities, communication skills and presentation techniques. In one activity, the children compared traits and characteristics of skilled, effective public speakers with poor ones and even got the chance to act out what a bad speaker looked like, which they particularly enjoyed.
At the end of the day, pupils spent time in groups reflecting on the topics discussed during the day and choosing a cause which particularly resonated with them. These will now form the basis of their social action projects back in their individual schools, where they will aim to make a difference through raising awareness of or funds for their chosen cause.
Initial project ideas included donating leftover fruit to homeless people as part of ‘Fruity Fridays’; the ‘Community Clean-up Crew’, which would involve getting students and parents to help them clean up the local area; and a clothes swap to raise money for charity.
The programme, which is run in partnership with WE, will be concluded with a graduation celebration at Barclays HQ in March. There, pupils will present on their social action projects, share their successes with the other children and reflect on what they can do in the future.
Vikki Russell-Robbins, Enrichment Lead at United Learning and the programme coordinator, said:
“We are very pleased to have launched our Primary Student Leadership Programme for a second year with three successful, thought-provoking and enjoyable events. Through them, we want not only to help pupils nurture vital skills for life and grow in confidence, but to empower them to become active citizens in their local communities.
“We saw some excellent social action projects from the children who took part last year and, judging by the exciting ideas which came out of these sessions, this year will be no different. I look forward to seeing the result of all their hard work at the pupils’ graduation in March.”
Pupils were incredibly positive about the events. One commented:
“I really enjoyed meeting pupils from other schools and hearing their ideas. There are some bad things happening around the world but I learnt that we can change it!”