Learning to Lead

This Donaldson Week the UIV (Year 9) girls who were not going to France had a week that focused on developing their understanding of leadership and the skills needed to be successful leaders in all aspects of their lives.

During the first session the girls were asked to consider different ways of thinking about leadership: for example leaders who lead by setting an example; leaders who are inspirational; political leadership or leadership through teamwork and camaraderie. Working in groups they were given different leadership perspectives and tasked with finding out more about the key figures identified, presenting back to the remainder of the group on their findings. This initial session was followed by a scenario session where the students were given an envelope with cards describing events that could happen in school that required leadership. Ranging from dealing with bullying to motivating a poorly performing sports team, the girls had to discuss how they would approach the situation and the leadership skills required. They found this exercise really challenging but their deliberations showed great maturity and thoughtful questioning.

During the morning the advantage of being able to be a clear and confident public speaker to being able to lead was raised again and again. At St Mary’s we are fortunate to offer a RADA public speaking course in the Sixth Form through Mrs Cochrane-Patrick, and we were delighted to be able to offer the girls a short taster of this course as part of the Leadership Week. After working through exercises on space, status and diction, a brave few volunteered to give a short speech about something they cared about and the quality was outstanding.

The Tuesday saw the girls head off to the Mendips for a Leadership Day at the Mendip Activity Centre.  The girls were split into six groups and had to tackle various outdoor challenges from navigating through a ‘spider’s web’ to using planks of wood to get each member across a marked out route. Each girl took it in turns to be the leader of their group, taking charge and putting into practice the skills they had learnt the previous day. Luckily the weather held off and the girls could enjoy the day without getting soaked!

Back in school on Wednesday the girls had two workshops run by Innovate Enterprise. The first, LAUNCH is a workshop designed to support the development of longer-term thinking and attitude to support students on their learning and future journeys. LAUNCH is an acronym:

- Learning Mindset
- Attitude
- Understand yourself
- Noise and how to manage it
- Careers – thinking about the future
- Habits – what are yours and how to develop some better ones.

The final session of the day was built around the DWELL Concept. DWELL stands for Developed Wellbeing Enterprise Learning and Living Centres - multi-use spaces that will take advantage of empty or underused office and business spaces in City Centres. Using a Cooperative / Social Enterprise model, students in teams of four or five were led through the outline of DWELL and then given a set of challenges, including: how the tenants in the building will start businesses; the costs of building upkeep; business plans for the business units and the job opportunities they could provide; how businesses will be supported and how the tenants and business owners will develop their skills and businesses whilst providing work experience and real wages. This practical experience was the perfect conclusion to our Leadership focus, allowing the girls to think carefully about the skills they will need to thrive beyond St Mary’s.

Leadership word cloudLeft: words used to describe leadership by the girls – the bigger the word the more frequently that word was used.







Mrs Alexandra Haydon, Senior Teacher and Head of Science