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.


The aim was to involve everyone, not just the brightest and most vocal, in identifying changes needed and then enabling student-led project teams to bring them about. The outcomes were transformational, students growing in confidence, self-esteem and ownership, and the whole culture of the school changing to one where everyone was ‘doing’ rather than students ‘being done to’.

The programme was gradually extended to other local schools, before catching the attention of the Children Schools and Families Select Committee who regarded it the best example of active citizenship in schools. A major independent evaluation by Cambridge University between 2008 and 2010 proved significant benefits, and the scheme has since grown organically, with 75 new schools joining in the past three years. Support for further expansion is currently being provided by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

Our network is growing rapidly and our approach is now increasingly being applied in other settings such as young people and families, local communities, adult care, offenders, and health.