Leaders of tomorrow: agency and character development for a sustainable world

Natalia Tomás Navarro

Head of Sixth Form

 

 

 

 

In preparation for our fourth Global Be-well Day and coinciding with the visit of Rachel Musson who will be working with our Sixth formers on Leadership, I would like to share my reflections on all the work we already do on Developing Character and Students Agency here at ELIS Villamartín. ThoughtBox Education proposes a very interesting approach to regenerate education for achieving a more sustainable future. Considering obvious recent global needs and challenges: mental health, social inequity and climate change; this company has the goal to assist schools in finding ways to help students grow emotional resilience, build on community and human relationships in order to advance in social equity whilst, at the same time, revitalising planetary health and becoming more aware of the environment we all function in.

I am very much looking forward to finding new ways to increase awareness amongst young adults in Sixth Form to move forward and help them become much more ready to face the challenges of a fast-changing world. Our group of schools at Cognita have undoubtedly invested in wellbeing for many years now, putting it at the core of our philosophy. Nonetheless, how do we help students on a day-to-day basis?

Student agency and wellbeing

Student agency is at the core of the curriculum we offer here, getting students involved, empowering them and helping them make choices and what to do with these choices is our day-to-day business. There are several examples of students who despite having chosen certain academic subjects to study during their two years in Sixth Form, they have also been given the opportunity to continue to develop their talents and abilities in the creative arts during assemblies, school events and community service like one of our most recent graduates, Danna Gil, who has ultimately chosen to study a career in Popular Music Performance in London.

We consider our students’ emotional and social learning needs, and we assure goal-setting conversations on an individual basis to achieve the best possible guidance for our students. For this purpose, we have used for years an academic profile and mentoring system, which has allowed us to guide and advice students meeting their individual academic and pastoral needs.

Character development and the importance of work-experience

Subject teachers, tutors and myself team-work daily to make sure all of our students get involved in our community and benefit from the skills they learn. We have developed two work experience programmes for this sole purpose over the course of the last 15 years. Our ELIS Challenge, in-house work experience tasks, allows students the opportunity to contribute, assist staff and develop skills whilst working around school. One live example of how inspiring and useful this has been over the years is our current classroom assistant in Early Years, Priyasha Cangi, who during her time as a student in Sixth Form spent several hours a week in ELIS Challenge working with children in Reception. In order to complete this experience, our first-year students, also spend a week outside of school in a local company also experiencing and growing in a real work environment. Our former student David de Gea, graduated in Economics and International Business and currently he successfully runs his own Real state agency in Madrid. He spent his work experience week working in the local newspaper and now a days he collaborates with us in taking in students to spend their work experience week at his company.

Aspiring to lead in a more sustainable world

Recently the United Nation’s SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) have provided my department with the perfect chance to immerse students further into finding ways to take action, in regards to the environment, but also to contribute to the whole school community presenting assemblies and working in projects. Therefore, this young people are proving their skills when developing viable ideas which may help our world reach these goals before 2030. Our Year 13 student, Tatiana Slukina, as an example of it, has this summer taken this further by taking part in an independent challenge at the Global Social Leaders World Catalyst 2022. Tatiana has received certification of the completion of this online initiative, where she has worked with students from all over the world and been a perfect student ambassador, and example, of the work we do with students at ELIS Villamartin.