On Thursday 16 January 2020, the Archbishop of York Youth Trust hosted the ‘Igniting Potential’ conference for Primary School headteachers and staff across the York and Leeds dioceses, exploring how schools can develop pupils' leadership and character through social action. The conference included sessions from guest speakers Dr Tom Harrison and Olivia Seymour and an extra special session from 14 Young Leaders from Knaresborough St John’s C of E Primary School.
Dr Tom Harrison from the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, at the University of Birmingham, started the day, sharing the importance of character education alongside some of the key research in this area.
“Our study found that if a child is given the opportunity to volunteer and take part in social action before the age of 10, they are twice as likely to carry on volunteering when they grow up.”
Dr Tom Harrison
Olivia Seymour, Assistant Director of Education for York Diocese, shared a practical session looking at the Biblical perspective of character education and the vision of church schools to educate for dignity and respect wisdom, knowledge and skills, community and living well together and hope and aspiration.
Young Leaders from St John’s C of E Primary in Knaresborough then shared their experiences of social action and character education through the Young Leaders Award.
The pupils shared stories of their personal social action projects and how they had taken action to make a difference to issues that are important to them. The three main projects that the Young Leaders have focused on together were, advocating for more recycling bins in Knaresborough town centre, campaigning to reduce the amount of food waste that the school produced each week and collecting school supplies to send to a new school in Africa.
The Young Leader's teacher, Mrs Byers, shared that the Young Leaders were appalled when they realised that the school threw away an average of 13 bin bags of food waste a week. So, they campaigned to reduce this waste, and as a school they have seen great benefit from this reduction.
The Young Leaders also enjoyed getting involved in personal projects too.
Millie chose to fundraise for Children’s Heart Surgery. As part of the fundraising, Millie and her friends did a 2K sponsored walk dressed as superheroes, Millie dressed up as a Police Officer. They chose the heart surgery charity as Millie's mum has a heart condition, as well as a sibling of Millie's friend in school, so she wanted to support people who are also going through similar, difficult times with heart conditions.
The Young Leaders did a fantastic job of communicating the leadership skills and character virtues they had learnt through the Young Leaders Award, along with sharing some inspirational stories of their social action projects.
To read more about igniting the potential of your young people through character education and social action, contact us today on 01904 231010 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Elizabeth Howat, Director of the Young Leaders Award, has recently written a booklet in collaboration with Groves Books named 'Igniting Potential' that dives a little deeper into these topics. Buy your copy at the below link for £3.95.