Young Leaders - preparing young people for University and the world of work

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05 June 2023

When the COVID-19 pandemic first took the globe by storm at the beginning of 2020, one of the hardest-hit sectors was undoubtedly the education sector.

Chris Wain, Head of Futures at Shrewsbury School, took a moment to consider what could be done to ensure that pupils would continue to receive value and use their time in a positive way to achieve something new, even if it were a little different.

How Shrewsbury School Tackled 2020

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Not willing to let the year go to waste, the leaders at Shrewsbury School quickly sought out opportunities to keep pupils motivated, through additional course material designed to prepare them for life after school.

  1. A University preparation course was developed internally, with training on topics such as independent living and preparing for university lectures
  2. ILM’s Young Leaders Award programme was identified as a useful qualification that would add value to pupils at all stages of their lives

Shrewsbury School was presented with the option to outsource the ILM Young Leaders Award via an external training organisation. The team of enterprising educators quickly established that they had the right set of skills to run the course independently and believed that there was ample room within their curricular programmes to offer more support to their pupils.

When speaking of how the school reacted to the impact that COVID-19 had in 2020, Chris Wain says, “Because so much of our other extra-curricular activities were put on hold, as were the A-level exams, we needed to offer something meaningful that would create valuable learning opportunities for our pupils. We have the right experience and incredibly adaptable staff – it made far better sense for us to become accredited to deliver this type of training, in-house.”

The ILM Young Leaders Award was considered a huge success at Shrewsbury School, with 95 sixth-form pupils completing the course in 2020. The modules selected were:

  • Self-leadership and mentorship
  • Equality and diversity

The feedback from the pupils who participated was positive. Most of them commended the mentorship module, saying that it had given them more to explore on their university applications, and helped them to develop leadership skills that will add value to their university journeys and employment prospects for years to come.

2021, and beyond

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Although the ILM Young Leaders Award was originally a contingency plan to counter the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on schooling in 2020, the school quickly recognised the value of the award, and have gone on to implement it as an optional activity, year on year.

Upper Sixth Formers continued to be enrolled enrolled on the Shrewsbury School’s university preparation programme in 2021 and 2022, as well the ILM Young Leaders Award – in 2022, adjusting the modules undertaken to: 

  • Self-leadership and mentorship
  • Developing leadership skills

The outcomes in 2021 and 2022 have been astounding. Sixth formers have applied what they’ve learned by offering mentorship to Fifth Form or Third Form pupils on the ILM Young Leaders Award curriculum, as well other academic subjects.

The Lower Sixth Formers have enjoyed the training, and their new skills, so much that they have expressed their hopes of setting up a mentoring service within the school for older pupils to guide younger pupils on academic subjects, such as mathematics and English. These are lifelong skills and qualities that pupils might otherwise not have developed at this early stage of their education and career.

Chris Wain’s delight is palpable, saying, “When you create space for young people to be creative, they come up with tremendous things! It wasn’t my idea – it was all theirs! To create a community of mentors to help their peers is just wonderful, and it’s even better that they aspire to share their skills with others when they learn something themselves.”

This spirit of sharing is clearly something that the pupils have learned by the examples set by their seniors. Shrewsbury School is both an educational institution and a charity, and it places an emphasis on outreach work, particularly to surrounding state schools that have access to fewer resources.

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In 2022, Shrewsbury School made the ILM modules available to William Brookes School. This was a new addition and a further reflection of Shrewsbury’s commitment to outreach work. Shrewsbury are looking at William Brookes becoming a satellite station, with other schools, including those further afield, to follow suit.

Watch the William Brookes case study video below.

What’s truly remarkable about this case study is that what began as an almost knee-jerk response to the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved into something far-reaching and high-impact, teaching young people skills that will give them a solid start as they enter university, and adult life beyond.

David Phillips, Managing Director of ILM applauds the partnership with Shrewsbury School, noting that the young learners walk away with the skills and knowledge that set them in good stead for their future careers across any sector. “We are immensely proud to see the life-changing impact that the Young Leaders Award can have, and I commend Chris Wain, and the team at Shrewsbury School for their innovative response to a challenging time. I’m delighted that the ILM award has been successful in preparing these young individuals for life beyond school, giving them skills and knowledge that they might not have otherwise gained through academic studies.” 

Watch our collaboratrion video with Shrewsbury School below.

If you’d like to learn more about the ILM Young Leaders Award, please visit the dedicated page, or contact us.

Find out more about Shrewsbury school on their website or contact them at