On the 26th of March, pupils from Kings’ school, Winchester, hosted 25 headteachers from the city of Liepāja in Latvia. The purpose of their visit was to learn more about how ‘leadership’ skills are developed within UK Secondary schools. Like most schools in the UK, Kings’ offers a wide range of opportunities for pupils to take on responsibility and lead others, from being a librarian, a sports captain or a peer supporter, right through to being a senior prefect or even head boy or girl. So Why visit Kings’ in particular? What caught the attention of the Latvian ‘Institute for lifelong learning and Culture’?
In a nutshell: the ‘7 Habits’. Whilst providing roles and responsibilities for pupils to practise leading others is very important, as Stephen Covey once said “leadership is a choice not a position”. Fundamentally, we want to help our young people become strong leaders of themselves first and foremost. We want them to be able to make positive decisions about how they lead their lives and set examples to others, rather than simply follow the crowd. One of the ways in which we are doing this at Kings’, is by raising our pupils’ self-awareness and developing their social and emotional intelligence through the teaching of the ‘7 Habits of highly effective teenagers.’
The real impact of empowering young people to ‘lead’, was demonstrated on the 26th of March by the fact that the entire event was organised by pupils. A group of Year 8,9 and 10 pupils formed a working party and took responsibility for everything from recruiting other pupils to run tours of the school and delivering an engaging presentation on the 7 Habits, through to ensuring all child protection procedures were adhered to and that the visitors had refreshments. Putting the ‘7 Habits’ into practice, this ‘lighthouse’ team of pupils synergised their ideas and came up with a fun and innovative way of showcasing all the different leadership opportunities in the school. They did not want the event to be too formal or dry and so decided to create a ‘leadership’ fayre. Pupils representing all areas of leadership in the school were invited to set up a stall and interact with the headteachers as they carouselled around the room, creating a lively and inspiring atmosphere.
The Ripple Effect – The whole event was a huge success and the Latvian headteachers were genuinely bowled over by the maturity, confidence and enthusiasm of our pupils. The pupils themselves said that they really enjoyed meeting people from a different country and learning about the cultural differences between our 2 countries. What struck them the most however, was the fact that the Chair of the Latvian ‘Institute for lifelong learning and Culture’ Mr Rolands Ozols, told them that they may have had a positive influence on how the next generation of Latvian children are taught. Leading by example… creating a ripple effect.