Despite huge changes and challenges for Villiers Park and the world at large, 2021 has been a year of exciting progress. In October, we marked the first full year of delivering the Future Leaders Programme with a blog from Hannah, a Future Leader from Hastings. In it, she talks about how the Women in Maths programme, run by our partner Trinity College, University of Cambridge, was the inspiration for her Leadership Challenge project: an online maths club for girls in Years 7 and 8.
That’s just one fantastic example of the value our partnerships bring to the young people we work with. Partnerships are essential: they provide aspirational, enriching, specialist experiences - and, frequently, the financial support which makes our work possible. Villiers Park simply couldn’t make the impact it does without the help and support of partner organisations.
Our partners fall roughly into three camps: schools and universities; trusts, foundations and not-for-profits; and businesses. They all have at least one thing in common: like us, they want a world that works for all young people, irrespective of their background. They recognise that some young people are not even on the playing field, never mind it being level. They know that, with the right help and support, young people from less-advantaged backgrounds can gain the confidence and agency they need to be leaders in their lives, personally, professionally and societally.
What isn’t common is how we work with each partner: each partnership is bespoke and tailored to deliver maximum benefit for the young people we will jointly serve. They all bring something unique and specific to the Future Leaders’ journey.
I want to welcome the new partners who've joined us recently:
Sopra Steria, a European leader in consulting, digital services and software development, is supporting our Future Leaders with sessions on AI, developing digital skills, and employability: what employers look for in candidates, and the application process itself. Over the coming years, we hope to build in some career mentoring and “reverse mentoring”, giving Sopra Steria the opportunity to learn from our Future Leaders about the challenges faced by young people from underrepresented backgrounds.
We’re committed to helping our young people live sustainable futures, so we’re delighted to be working with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), leading lights of global conservation, thanks to the support of our longstanding partner, the Evolution Education Trust. We’ve just wrapped up the first course created in partnership with the WWF: Conservation for a Sustainable Future. This is the first step in a collaborative project with the WWF and Founders4Schools which encourages young people to consider sustainability in their career pathways - something we’re very excited about.
We’re pleased to be doing more to support care-experienced students through a new partnership with First Star, and helping young people to develop communication and presentation skills through the English Speaking Board. More on those soon.
There are so many examples of exemplary work I could give from our longstanding partners: how universities such as Bath and Winchester are delivering best-in-class services to attract, support and retain young people from underrepresented backgrounds; how Votes for Schools are giving young people - including our Future Leaders - a voice in the issues that affect them; and how AM Digital are using exclusive archive material to bring subjects to life, from food and drink to gender and identity.
I’m really looking forward to celebrating all our brilliant partnerships more in 2022. We are so proud and grateful to work with organisations of the calibre that we do. Our Future Leaders’ experience on the programme is vastly richer thanks to these relationships. Here's to a productive year!