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Lewisham Young Leaders Academy (LYLA) partnership shortlisted for national social mobility award – FE News


Lewisham Young Leaders Academy (LYLA) Partnership has been shortlisted for the Contribution to Social Mobility category at the upcoming Independent Schools of the Year competition.

Last year St Dunstan’s College, Westside Young Leaders Academy (WYLA) and Lewisham Council announced a ground-breaking partnership to launch an academy for young people in the area.

The Academy was founded in response to research and evidence showing disparities in achievement and outcomes for Black Caribbean and dual heritage (Black Caribbean/White) children and young people not only in Lewisham but across London and the UK.

Through weekend classes, the Lewisham Young Leaders Academy provides extra support to young people from across Lewisham through transformative life skills training including leadership, team work, presentation skills and CV building. The program is designed to develop 12 leadership qualities in young people: endurance, courage, determination, enthusiasm, initiative, conscientiousness, prudence, knowledge, loyalty, perseverance, responsibility and selflessness.

Speaking about the shortlist, St Dunstan’s Head Nick Hewlett said: “I am delighted that this unique partnership has been recognized as Independent School of the Year. St Dunstan’s College is passionate about and dedicated to providing opportunities to enrich the lives of our local community. We understand that we are in a privileged position as an independent school, both in terms of our facilities and the experience of our staff and pupils, and we are proud to work closely with Westside Young Leaders Academy (WYLA) and Lewisham Council for Young Leaders Academy Lewisham ( LILA).

“The team at Lewisham Young Leaders Academy (LYLA) make a difference to the lives of the young people who attend every week and I look forward to developing our partnership further.”

Damien Egan, Mayor of Lewisham, said: “We live in the richest city in Europe and for too long many of our young people here in Lewisham, and particularly those from Africa and the Caribbean, have struggled to access these top jobs and opportunities .

“I am very grateful to St Dunstan’s for running the program and working with us on this brilliant initiative which has already made such a difference. I look forward to seeing what happens next with the program.”

Since launching, the Academy has grown from 40 to 60 students attending each week, with three teachers and two parent volunteers. While the Academy benefits from the use of St Dunstan’s facilities, including our halls and STEM classrooms, school staff have also held some weekend sessions, giving up their time to run climbing and martial arts workshops.

A fall 2021 survey of parents and students revealed the impact the new program has already had on the boys and girls who attend.

When asked if the program increased their child’s confidence, 100% of respondents strongly agreed/agreed and 85% said it helped their child develop new skills. 100% of parents also strongly agreed/agreed that the program provided opportunities and experiences they might not have had otherwise, with 100% also agreeing that it helped their child develop a positive self-identity.

Student responses also indicated that the program was a positive experience for the students who attended, with 100% strongly agreeing/agreeing that it helped them build confidence and that the sessions were an opportunity to explore and learn new skills.

Over the next 12 months, St Dunstan’s College and Westside Young Leaders hope to explore further collaboration with LYLA, building on greater community partnerships and sustainability projects.

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