Last week, at three events around the country, over 80 pupils from United Learning’s primary academies and prep schools gathered to learn about becoming leaders in their own communities.
The events marked the beginning of the Group’s Primary Student Leadership Programme, which is now in its third year. Delivered in partnership with WE (Free the Children), the programme seeks to build confidence, compassion and citizenship in Year 5 and 6 pupils whilst teaching them about the value of local and global social action.
This year’s regional launch conferences were held at Cravenwood Primary Academy in Manchester, Kettering Buccleuch Academy in Northamptonshire and Wilberforce Primary in London. They were also attended by pupils and teachers from Abbey Hey Primary Academy, Ashford Prep School, Corngreaves Academy, Grange Primary Academy, High Hazels Academy, Hampshire Collegiate Prep School, Hull Collegiate Prep School, Surbiton High Prep School and Timbertree Academy.
During the conferences, pupils were encouraged to think about how they can each make a difference and become leaders of positive change in their schools and communities. They therefore worked together throughout the day to explore good leadership qualities and methods, public speaking and issues that mattered to them.
The events were an important introduction to the next stage of the programme, in which pupils will be developing a social action project within their own schools. During the afternoon, they began to explore the challenges and issues that most resonated with them and how they might begin to address this. They will then present on their work at a graduation ceremony at Barclays HQ in the summer term.
One teacher at the event hosted at Kettering Buccleuch Academy said:
“It’s been a fantastic experience for the students to mix. For some of our pupils who don’t get to travel out of the local area often, just seeing students from a different place and hearing a different accent has been so exciting for them and a really brilliant experience!”
A pupil from Corngreaves Academy also said:
“I just realised our project can start small but we can get bigger and bigger. I am so happy Corngreaves is part of United Learning.”
Previous years have seen participants deliver some excellent creative and philanthropic projects. Last year, for example, schools organised ‘sleep rough’ events, a litter clear-up, diversity celebrations and an intergenerational initiative.
Vikki Russell-Robbins, Enrichment Lead at United Learning:
“We want children to leave our schools equipped to play an active role in their communities and so learning about effective leadership, teamwork and social action shouldn’t just be something that begins in the secondary phase. Our Primary Student Leadership Programme aims to give pupils the tools, encouragement and ideas-base to see where they can make a difference in their schools and lives.
“Previous programme participants have reported leaving the programme with greater confidence in their leadership, presentation and enterprise skills, as well as excited and empowered to make a difference within their own community. We had an excellent start with this year’s groups and we are keen to see how they develop their initial thinking into some really imaginative social action projects.”