Awareness and Leadership Curriculum

Below are some excerpts from our original 2012 paper:

Executive Summary

Leadership requires the ability to be an active participant in one’s own life and the lives of others by developing emotionally intelligent awareness, attitudes, behaviours and skills. With youth unemployment at a record high and in an increasingly complex and fast moving global economy, the attributes of leadership are becoming the most important qualities young people need to thrive in the rapidly changing world.​

Our vision is for awareness and leadership development to become a part of every young person’s educational journey, inspiring the next generation with the passion, confidence and ability to take the lead in business, society, local communities, and in their own lives.​

We seek to support schools to develop self-awareness and leadership potential in all pupils, through the creation of an innovative new curriculum model, the Awareness and Leadership Curriculum (ALC). Its creation will be informed by the latest thinking in education, learning & development, the business sector and psychology, and it will be embedded into schools alongside the conventional school curriculum.

The new themes introduced into schools through the ALC will be actively experienced and practiced by pupils throughout their school life and will act as a catalyst to raise their interest and engagement with the educational process itself. This will result in an improvement in many outcomes, not least academic achievement.​

If the ALC were available to all pupils throughout 13 years of their school life, we would expect to see a significant and lasting generational shift among school leavers towards more positive attitudes and behaviours. These would be reinforced by greater opportunities and satisfaction in the workplace, and perpetuated into future generations by improved parenting skills.

​We are committed to equipping young people with the necessary awareness and skills to lead happier, healthier and more successful lives, and to feel empowered to create a positive future for themselves and their children.

A practical challenge facing those who wish to contribute to improvements in the development of young people is that numerous successful initiatives that already exist operate in isolation, with limited scope to bring about large scale and lasting change in educational thinking, or in the attitudes and behaviours of school leavers. A key premise for our work is the need for a centre of excellence and best practice that can bring together ideas from many contributors and thought leaders, and to create from these a range of resources and programmes that will be available to all schools and all school children.

Our objective is to create a curriculum that is relevant, informed, creative, thought provoking, timely, effective, challenging and pragmatic. Our intention is to generate material that is flexible in terms of delivery format, modular for efficient transfer to participants, and world-class in terms of its content.​

A key principle will be that the curriculum should not be taught in a rigid or prescriptive way, but rather that teachers will be encouraged to get alongside pupils to act as facilitators in a journey of mutual exploration, learning and growth.

If successful we would anticipate this curriculum playing an important part in transforming the educational landscape so that schools and colleges are empowered to prepare young people to succeed personally to and make a positive contribution in the modern world.

Why Leadership and Why Now?

There is an increasing body of evidence which suggests that the current thinking in education is not preparing young people with the skills, attitudes and behaviours they will need to take on the challenges and opportunities of the 21st Century.

Almost one million young people in the UK are currently classified as ‘NEET’ – not in education, employment or training. In challenging economic times there is increasing pressure for young people to be job-ready and able to perform from day one. A recent report from the Work Foundation highlighted that increasing numbers of young people are struggling to make the transition from education into sustained work.

Changes to the labour market over the past 30 years have led to an increase in demand for employability skills such as self-direction, self-management and problem-solving which are not currently the core focus of the education system. Employer surveys have consistently identified a growing skills gap and an urgent need to ensure that young people leave education with transferable skills and attitudes such as motivation, teamwork, communication, resilience and adaptability. The most recent CBI Education and Skills Survey found that employers now rate the development of employability skills at the top priority for 14-19 education. These skills shortages have been recognised by the Government’s Skills for Sustainable Growth strategy as real barriers to labour market entry and sustainability, impacting disproportionately on young people due to their lack of experience in the workplace.

As the UK moves towards economic recovery and growth it is projected that the importance of these key skills and attitudes will grow further. The UK Commission for Employment and Skills has forecast that future employment growth will be concentrated in higher skill occupations and in particular in managerial and professional roles. The latest CBI survey indicates that 71% of UK businesses expect to increase the number of jobs requiring leadership and management skills. A recent survey from Adecco found that in assessing future potential, employers now rate attitude/personality (91%) as more important than education/qualifications (35%) and work experience (55%).

Organisations experiencing radically new market conditions at an increasingly rapid rate are crying out for emotionally intelligent leaders with the inner strength and conviction to contribute, introduce and sustain new ideas and model the adaptability required in their teams. The qualities and attitudes demanded of modern leaders in all sectors has changed significantly over recent years. Their choices and behaviours are visible to a degree that has never been seen before and will only increase.

Social indications have also been evident for some time, notably through the 2007 UNICEF report ‘An overview of child well-being in rich countries’, the most comprehensive study of its kind ever undertaken. The study looked at 40 indicators across six dimensions including material, educational and subjective well- being, family and peer relationships, and health. In the resulting league table of child well-being among the world’s wealthiest 21 nations, the UK was ranked in bottom place, with the USA at number 20. The 2011 summer riots in Britain are just one symptom that our young people are experiencing a growing level of discontent that is beginning to seek greater expression.

Neurological evidence suggests that adolescence is an important time for the development of regions of the brain involved in non-cognitive skills, such as self-awareness, self-control, multi-tasking and planning (Blakemore, 2010).

As such, the focus of our work will be on embedding awareness and leadership development into the curriculum of secondary schools and colleges initially, and move towards primary aged pupils later.