13 July 2018

Prime time – John Willmott students rise to the challenge of being young leaders

Forward-thinking students at John Willmott School have been developing their leadership skills and confidence as part of an innovative programme designed to empower and support young people.

The academy, which works with the respected Arthur Terry Learning Partnership (ATLP), ran its first session of Prime Rise, Young Men’s Leadership Programme.

The course is delivered by external leaders and coaches, Richard Daley and Shardia Briscoe-Palmer, who have also led successful programmes at ATLP’s Stockland Green School. Tracey Peters, headteacher at John Willmott School, has been working with Richard for more than 20 years, to support young people across schools in the city.

Year 8 students at John Willmott experienced their first ‘Prime Rise’ session last week. Richard explained that the children explored issues such as culture and identity, in relation to how they view themselves and others they may interact with. He said that students will be unpacking their notions of ‘what is a man?’ and how to become a ‘Prime’, adding that the programme will impact positively in matters revolving around masculinity, managing young men’s emotional climate, CSE and wider teenage bullying and abuse.

Richard said:

That was probably best first session we’ve ever had with a Year 8 boys group! It felt open from the start and this amazing group of young men showed incredible maturity.

The students have been learning about who they are as young men and becoming young leaders. Young people experience many changes and demands, including social media and peer pressure, so we explored themes of understanding influences and perception, relevant role models, communication and self-worth.

We want young people to feel connected in an inclusive environment. By giving them a voice away from the classroom, they can explore who they are and just what they are capable of. Students respond well to this approach, which has long reaching benefits to them and their schools.”

Comments from students included:

It was excellent, because we got to share about how we feel and understand how to respond to those feelings.”

It was a great session and gave me a chance to talk to others.I was able to explain what I’m feeling and felt comfortable talking about my personal feelings. 

It was very good and helped me to understand more about myself and others.”

Richard added:

The main theme which runs throughout this programme is that both young women and young men, learn to make time to reflect on their feelings and their thinking, before they act. To know that whatever response they give in any given situation, to never lose sight of the fact that it is important to love themselves and to challenge themselves, to be the best they can be. In doing so, others can be encouraged to do the same.   

Students and staff are now looking forward to future sessions. The school plans to roll out other courses to different year groups and run another programme for female students.

Shardia, who has worked with hundreds of young people across Birmingham, said:

We want to give young women a platform to explore some of the issues that may be affecting them; to develop their self-esteem and leadership and to discuss their feelings among their peer group. Ultimately, we want them to understand who they are and to feel positive about themselves so they can go into the world as confident and empowered young women.”

Headteacher Tracey Peters said:

The response to the course has been incredibly positive and this impacts across the rest of school. I’m so impressed with the students’ levels of maturity and understanding – they’re a real credit to themselves, their families and this school.  At John Willmott, we believe in supporting our young people, strengthening relationships and giving them the confidence and life skills to feel motivated to achieve anything.

I’m very proud of this fantastic and considerate group of young men, who demonstrate real calibre as the leaders of tomorrow. We already know they work well together – as four of them  are all part of our talented football team and regularly model the attributes of teamwork, drive and resilience.  Our learning community is committed to helping young people to grow and reach their full potential, as part of our key values of high standards, high expectations and huge aspirations.”