By horizon scanning for international best practice, school leaders are learning first hand what works in real world learning, future readiness and personal development and careers education. As leaders, it also encourages them to reflect on their own practice and develop the personal leadership capacities and cultures necessary for new future skills strategies to take root.
The initiative also includes a leadership development programme for young people, led by an inspiring young Ashoka colleague, Jaiden Corfield. His role is to help students in the pilot schools explore their own leadership journeys. By elevating youth voice, the programme practices what it preaches, resulting in strategies with input from both headteachers and young people themselves.
Addressing social inequity
Another important driver of the programme is social inequality. The levelling up agenda has stalled in this respect, largely because it’s so focused on disadvantaged students’ attainment. Even pre-Covid, we were spending £2.5bn a year on pupil premium with negligible impact on social mobility. Since measures of disadvantage are constantly changing and attainment gaps tend to swing against the economic cycle, academics and policy makers find it hard to evaluate impact.
New Capabilities takes a different approach to social inequity. Widening the lens beyond attainment measures to focus on the skills and capabilities that young people actually need to break through glass ceilings of disadvantage. In devising the programme, we’ve settled on some key mechanisms to support this. These include building capacities and cultures for changemaking and deepening developmental relationships within school to enable us to see and listen to the aspirations of young people and give them agency to effect change.
Crucially, the programme also focuses on social capital. Only by unlocking the latent resources that exist in professional and personal networks can young people get where they need to be. New evidence is piling up to support this. The programme introduces the language and understanding school leaders need to build social capital directly into their strategies (through initiatives like real-world and community-connected learning) giving young people equal access to the opportunities they need.
The perfect partnership