Townley GSL Catalyst at Queen’s College

This July we had the great privilege to work with an incredible group of young women from Townley Grammar School.

It all started with a twitter conversation in May between Nevita Pandya, Deputy Head of Townley and Jon Harper, CEO of Future Foundations. Following the tweets we organised a series of assemblies at the school and received a wonderful response from young people and parents alike. On the basis of their enthusiasm for the Global Social Leaders movement we decided to take all 142 students who applied for the programme to Queen’s College, Taunton for 4 days of residential training.

For the first time ever we built the programme around a ‘Seeds of Inspiration’ day at the Eden Project, Cornwall, hosted by the indomitable Alex Bell and Chris Hines, an absolute Rock Star in the social action world and founder of Surfers against Sewage. Chris’s talk was a great highlight for all involved including Townley teachers and our FF staff.

Day 1

The programme kicked off with an inspiring plenary from Mary Daniels, Course Director. Mary’s motivational opener set the tone for the upcoming 4 days of activities.

You could have felt the excitement in the air when Mary announced coaching teams and the themes for each day.

  • Be the Change
  • Good to Great
  • Seeds of Inspiration
  • Make It Happen

Despite a long journey and incredible heat the young people jumped into activities with great enthusiasm and willingness to learn.

Truly inspiring and had such a fun time. I’ve learnt so much and has given me a new outlook on the world. Thank you! Xx

Day 2

Day two was all about taking your leadership skills from ‘Good’ to ‘Great’. We kicked off the day with optional energising activities: yoga, swimming, and mindfulness. Operations Director Jakub commented that he’d ‘never seen so many young people committing to a morning kick starter on a programme before’. As a seasoned FF member of staff he has delivered many residentials before and found the behaviour and attitude of Townley’s students to be among the best he’s ever witnessed.

After breakfast there it time for an experiential learning activity that teaches the importance of seeing the bigger picture in order to be a more effective leader.

‘Sometimes we are so involved in our little world that forget about the wider community.’ Charlotte – Year 7

Crucially, Day 2 was when we introduced the United Nation’s 17 SDGs to the curriculum. Every participant had to space to share what issues they are personally passionate about and discuss global problems within their teams. It was a beautiful day filled with wisdom of the young people and a great learning opportunity for everyone involved.

Day 3

The ‘Seeds of Inspiration Day’ did exactly what it says on the tin. We took the group off site to the nearby Eden Project for a fully immersive experience of this world-leading conservation and education landmark, to understand what is possible when a group of determined dreamers get together and work together on their vision.

Dubbed the Eighth Wonder of the World by some, the Eden Project is a dramatic global garden housed in tropical biomes that nestle in a crater the size of 30 football pitches. With a worldwide reputation, Eden is more than just a huge, tropical garden, it is a gateway into the relationships between plants and people, and a fascinating insight into the story of mankind’s dependence on plant life and future sustainability.

To see the stunning transformation of these old clay pits really pushed the participants to be bold in their project planning and dream big. Chris Hines, the founder of Surfers Against Sewage was our headline act of the day and we all felt like punters at Glastonbury. This man is an incredible source of inspiration and a humble soul that offers encouragement and words of wisdom. We were delighted to be hosted at the Eden Project by Dan Ryan and his team and thanks also goes to Alex Bell, without whom it would not have been possible.

The most exhausting, crazy, hunger-inducing, incredible, vibrant, exciting school trip of my life

The FF team were all “awesome “ very professional and worked very hard to meet any requirements issues that arose. Special thanks to Jakub and Mary for all their efforts they were very responsive and worked very hard to deliver the programme.

Day 4

The final day was all about taking the raw skills, energy and inspiration garnered over the proceeding days and putting it into practice. The students had over 3 hours with their teams and Future Foundations coach to plan, design and prepare a pitch for a social action project of their choosing. The end goal is that teams continue with their projects next term and enter them into our Global SDG Competition in September.

We were lucky enough to be joined by some very special guests  including the Mayor of Taunton, who was keen to provide feedback and a bit of guidance to our young social entrepreneurs.

The level of maturity and presentations skills of Townley girls were amazing to witness. Every project they pitched was designed to tackle a specific Global Goal and was judged around 5 criteria:

  • Sustainability – The ability to be carried on after the residential
  • Measurability – The ability to measure impact (Followers, amount raised, people impacted)
  • Inspirational – Mentally stimulating others to do or feel something.
  • Realistic – Having a sensible and practical idea of what can be achieved or expected
  • Impactful -a clear effect or influence.

In total there were 24 different projects shared by students and we are confident that they will translate into incredible impact for the school and surrounding community in Bexleyheath.

As the final day drew to a close and the buzz of the teams project pitches settled, it was time to say goodbye. GSL catalyst was an incredible journey for the young people but also for the staff of from Townley Grammar School and Future Foundations and we all feel privaledged to have been with you on this journey. We enjoyed our first major project together and we hope it begins a yearly tradition!

Please read what Sadia, Year 9 Ambassador had to say about her experience of the Townley GSL Catalyst by clicking here.

Even if you think you don’t have much of the say, the tiniest thing that you do can have a massive effect. It’s like a ripple in the ocean the smallest droplet can set off an effect.   We also enjoyed that we got to engage with the other year groups which would not normally have happened and we have formed great friendships with the years 7 & 8. Having communication with the Future Foundation coaches and developing a sense of community and friendship with the staff leaders really empowered us to develop our own leadership skills. –  Sidney

I never knew how much I was capable of until GSL.

I’ve had one of the most amazing experiences of my life and I now feel much more confident.