This week, primary pupils from 15 schools across United Learning came together to celebrate their social action initiatives at a special graduation ceremony held at Barclays HQ in Canary Wharf, London.
The event was the culmination of months of work as part of United Learning’s Primary Student Leadership Programme, which was developed and is run in partnership with WE. The schools taking part represented a broad spectrum of the Group’s primaries, including schools from the state and independent sectors all the way from Yorkshire to Surrey.
Now in its second year, the programme kicked off with a Training Day in November which involved a series of workshops run by WE facilitators on leadership, teamwork and social change. Following this, pupils went back to their own schools and devised and carried out a social action project of their choice, with a view to supporting an issue that especially resonated with them.
This week’s graduation ceremony was a chance for all the pupils involved to meet up again and share what they had achieved, learnt and enjoyed about the process. Each school group gave a presentation on their social action project and received their graduation certificate – topics ranged from refugees and homelessness to respect and cultural diversity. They also took part in a workshop reflecting on the leadership and teamwork skills they had all learnt, as well as being treated to performances by empowering poet-singer Lara Lee.
Pupils’ presentations demonstrated the breadth of issues that they had taken an interest in and supported, as well as their creativity – several schools wrote poems to describe their social action initiatives!
The schools’ awareness and fund raising activities included:
- Food item collections and bake sales at Cravenwood Primary Academy and High Hazels Academy;
- Animal-themed mufti days at Grange Primary Academy and Rowan Preparatory School;
- A cultural diversity celebration day at Surbiton High Girls’ Prep School;
- A sponsored walk for Unicef at Greenacre School;
- A mini funfair at Kettering Buccleuch Academy;
- Sponsored ‘sleep rough’ events at Timbertree Academy and Hull Collegiate Prep School;
- A Christmas collection at Guildford High Junior School;
- Termly ‘clean-up’ days to tackle litter at Abbey Hey Primary Academy;
- An afternoon tea event for elderly people from the local community at AKS School;
- A book collection at Wilberforce Primary to benefit children in Zambia;
- A ‘non-stop wheelie day’ at Corngreaves Academy;
- Surbiton High Boys’ Prep School pupils encouraging their fellow students to demonstrate respect for each other and their environment.
Vikki Russell-Robbins, Enrichment Lead at United Learning, said of the programme:
“We are really proud to see our second cohort of pupils graduate from the programme and even more so to hear about all the impressive, impactful social action work they have been doing in their schools and local communities since November. The presentations and feedback today help illustrate why an initiative like this aimed at our younger pupils is so valuable – not only in the fundraising and awareness projects that they have developed but in the confidence, teamwork and leadership that they have all shown along the way.”
Billie Dunne, a representative from WE who led the workshop with pupils at the graduation, said:
“While we go into a lot of individual schools across the UK and run social action projects, it’s great to see United Learning as a group of schools bringing everyone together for a programme like this. I think children get a lot of confidence from the experience and it gives them the space to share their ideas in a way that they may not always have the opportunity to do in normal lessons. It also gives teachers the added time to discuss social issues that might be affecting pupils and their local communities.
“I have been absolutely astounded by the quality of discussion that pupils have been having and staff have been really positive about it too – they didn’t realise how aware their pupils were. The children are also gaining useful skills out of the experience; building confidence through public speaking is really important, as is the peer-to-peer learning element of the programme.”