Learn to Lead was born out of a concern for the lack of opportunity for genuine student involvement in the life of school communities back in 2002. It was developed by two teachers and students from the Blue School, a state secondary school in Wells, Somerset.
Since then the involvement of Blue school students has grown rapidly to its present size of 22 teams covering every aspect of the life of the school and beyond, from the Toilet team to the Beautiful School Team, the Dyslexia Support Team to the Africa Link Team. There are 300+ students involved.
Amongst many outcomes of their team work, the Transport Team were the first students to complete a travel plan successfully and the school was awarded over £15,000 and provided with two new bike sheds. Students from the poly-tunnel team were donated a polytunnel and the Greenhouse Team wrote an ad. in the local papers and were given a greenhouse. The students negotiated funding from the LEA to help them establish healthy school lunches using local produce, and the Toilet Team received a grant from the LEA to go towards the refurbishment of the toilets. Two mini on-site recycling centres were asked for by the Waste and Recycling Team and donated by Somerset county council.
The ethos of respect and shared ownership of the school with the students has been best exemplified by the allocation of office space for the students’ activities. Over the ten years since the start of the programme in this school, the students work has so expanded to entail movement three times needing ever bigger office space, culminating in the purpose built centre they now occupy. This was formally opened last autumn by Sir Tim Brighouse. It houses a large hexagonal meeting room, an IT suite for students’ research and communications, an inviting comfortable entrance foyer, a kitchen and studio for their Radio Station. In effect the building feels much like a student union hub in a university and is alive with student activity.
It has recently been the venue for the secondary Learn to lead training, inspiring teachers from other schools, and providing direct experience of the dynamic outcomes possible when young people are given the opportunity to ‘not just have a say but do!’