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Shaping the future: why the development of leadership skills matters

We know young people care about the world around them, but how can we help them look to the future with confidence and optimism?

We know young people care about the world around them, but how can we help them look to the future with confidence and optimism?

14 Mar 2024, 9:00


We know young people are curious and passionate about the world they live in. They are well-versed in the language of sustainability, understand the need for global solutions to climate change, and take part in social action efforts.

And to support young people to be the change they want to see in the world, schools are having to adapt learning methods to reflect the skills-based, interdisciplinary approach to learning that is needed to support these actions.

With a general election now looming in months rather than years, education is likely to be a key battleground and the development of essential transferable skills looks likely to be at its heart.

In the UK Commission for Employment and Skills’ Future of Work Study, looking at jobs in 2030, they raised the need for a greater focus on building interconnectivity and working collaboratively. Employees will need to be able to work across different disciplines and participate virtually while also demonstrating cultural sensitivity. And despite the advancements in digital capabilities, the OECD Skills for 2030 report suggests that technical skills still need to be complemented with interpersonal understanding.

With classrooms and workplaces more diverse than ever, helping young people develop empathy and communication skills is essential if they are to be effective when working in a team. Indeed, to support young people to make that transition from the classroom to the workplace and their place in society, educators will need to focus on supporting young people to develop a toolkit of skills that will empower them and last long into their future.

Creating opportunities to put these skills into practice before they are needed in the workplace will be essential too. Educators are already looking for ways to offer young people the chance to volunteer and contribute to collaborative projects, building up their confidence and resilience, and the ability to take on board feedback.

The additional benefits these interactions bring is the potential to bring wider communities back together. After a period of division that has seen political views strain our society and a global pandemic that forced us all to isolate, that sense of togetherness is key to allowing young people to face their future with optimism and determination.

As an organisation that has worked in education for over 40 years, we wanted to step up to the challenge of creating even more opportunities for learners to create those shared practical learning experiences. Building on our heritage in sports education, we have now developed programmes in STEM, esports and environment leadership, all of which mix theory with practical application and provide activities for learners to work with peers to develop their skills.

We know that core skills – such as literacy and numeracy – are important, but creating an engaging curriculum that practically prepares learners with self-belief, listening and speaking skills (communication), is also critical. That’s where leadership skills can make a key difference.

Sometimes, it can seem like developing these skills in education can seem onerous on top of the time needed to deliver the core curriculum. This doesn’t need to be the case. We see this in the schools and colleges we work with, the majority of whom integrate our programmes with the curriculum to offer both at the same time. They use individual subjects as a way to teach these essential leadership skills, with many feeding back that the programmes increase learner engagement and encourage students otherwise switched off by school to reengage.

Our latest programme, developed in collaboration with WWF and the RSPB, focuses on leading a project for positive change. It is our hope that we can play our part in supporting learners to develop skills that complement the knowledge their dedicated teachers are helping them build – all for the benefit of our shared future.

Preparing today’s young people for their lives and the workplaces of tomorrow will rely more than ever on building skills which allow them to adapt to different situations and take on opportunities with the optimism needed to build a greater Britain.

We believe in the importance of leadership skill development as an essential expectation for all children and young people to achieve this. If you believe in this too, we would love to work with you. Contact us: hello@leadershipskillsfoundation.org

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  1. Patrick Obikwu

    Shaping the future.
    In charting the course for the future of our children, it is imperative that we broaden the spectrum of leadership within our educational institutions. The prevalent reliance on a uniform, one-size-fits-all model of school leadership presents a significant obstacle, one that hinders the cultivation of competent and dedicated school leaders. This narrow approach not only stifles innovation but also perpetuates a lack of diversity in leadership roles, ultimately limiting the potential impact on student outcomes.
    Diversifying the pool of school leaders holds immense promise for enhancing the educational experience of our students. By embracing a more inclusive leadership model, we not only create opportunities for underrepresented voices to be heard but also provide students with role models they can relate to on a personal level. This diversity of leadership fosters a sense of belonging and empowerment among students, as they see themselves reflected in the individuals guiding their educational journey.
    Moreover, a diverse leadership cadre brings a range of perspectives, experiences, and insights to the table. This rich tapestry of backgrounds and viewpoints encourages innovative approaches to problem-solving and decision-making, ultimately benefitting the entire school community. By challenging the status quo and embracing new ideas, diverse school leaders create an environment conducive to academic success, personal growth, and positive social behaviour.
    Furthermore, the presence of diverse leadership serves as a catalyst for student engagement and investment in their education. When students see leaders who mirror their own identities and experiences, they are more likely to feel valued and understood, leading to increased motivation and commitment to their academic pursuits. This, in turn, fosters a culture of excellence and inclusivity within the school environment, where every student feels empowered to reach their full potential.
    In essence, diversifying school leadership is not merely a matter of representation—it is a fundamental step towards fostering a more equitable and effective educational system. By embracing a variety of perspectives and voices in leadership roles, we can create schools that are truly reflective of the diverse communities they serve, and in doing so, pave the way for a brighter future for all our children.
    (Education Leadership, Learning Strategist, School and Youth Development, Critical Theorist, Entrepreneur)
    MA (Ed); P.G. Cert (Dev. Ed. & Global Learning); UK QTS (Science); Adv. Cert. (Sports Sc.); BSc (Hons) Biochemistry