St Dunstan’s College in Catford, London, is part of a unique schools partnership project that could be in line for a social mobility award.
Last year, St Dunstan’s, Westside Young Leaders Academy (WYLA) and Lewisham Council announced the ground-breaking partnership establishing the Lewisham Young Leaders Academy (LYLA) for young people in the London borough.
The academy was established in response to research and evidence showing disparities in attainment and outcomes for Black Caribbean and dual heritage children and young people, not just in Lewisham, but throughout London and the UK.
Through weekend classes, Lewisham Young Leaders Academy provides additional support to young people from across Lewisham through transformative teaching in life skills, including leadership, teamwork, presentation skills and CV building.
The programme is designed to develop 12 traits of leadership in the young people attending: bearing, courage, decisiveness, enthusiasm, initiative, integrity, judgement, knowledge, loyalty, perseverance, responsibility and unselfishness.
The scheme has been shortlisted in the Contribution to Social Mobility category at the upcoming Independent Schools of the Year awards.
Speaking about the shortlisting, St Dunstan’s head Nick Hewlett said: “I am delighted that this unique partnership has been recognised by the Independent School of the Year Awards. St Dunstan’s College is passionate about and dedicated to providing life-enriching opportunities to our local community.
“We realise that we hold a privileged position as an independent school both in terms of our facilities and the experiences of our staff and pupils, and we are proud to work closely with Westside Young Leaders Academy (WYLA) and Lewisham Council on Lewisham Young Leaders Academy (LYLA).
“The team at Lewisham Young Leaders Academy (LYLA) are changing the lives of the young people attending each week, and I look forward to growing our continued partnership.”
Damien Egan, mayor of Lewisham said: “We live in the wealthiest city in Europe, and for too long many of our young people here in Lewisham, and particularly those from African and Caribbean backgrounds, have found it difficult to access those top jobs and opportunities.
“I’m very grateful to St Dunstan’s for hosting the programme and working with us on this brilliant initiative, that is already making such a difference. I’m excited to see what happens next for the programme.”
Since launch, the academy has grown from 40 to 60 students attending each week, with three staff mentors and two parent volunteers. Whilst the academy benefits from using St Dunstan’s facilities, including our halls and STEM classrooms, staff from the school have also led some of the weekend sessions giving up their own time to lead workshops on climbing and martial arts.
A survey in autumn 2021 with parents and pupils showed the profound effect the new programme had already had on the young boys and girls attending.
When asked if the programme had increased their child’s confidence, 100 per cent of respondents strongly agreed/agreed, with 85 per cent saying it had helped their child develop new skills.
In the next 12 months, St Dunstan’s College and Westside Young Leaders hope to explore further collaborative work with LYLA, building on more community partnerships and sustainability projects.