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Launch of Lewisham Young Leaders Academy (LYLA)

A groundbreaking new partnership aimed at supporting Black Caribbean and dual heritage (Black Caribbean/White) pupils in Lewisham is set to launch in autumn 2021.

Lewisham Council, Westside Young Leaders Academy (WYLA) and St Dunstan’s College have joined forces to launch Lewisham Young Leaders Academy (LYLA) – a Saturday school that will teach transformative life skills, including leadership, teamwork, presentation skills and CV building.

Lewisham Council is funding this innovative new project as part of its ambitious programme to raise the achievement of all pupils, and in particular those with a Black Caribbean or dual heritage who have historically experienced poorer educational outcomes in Lewisham.  

Young people will be invited to enrol for the scheme, which will take place on Saturday mornings, through their school or other networks connected to the programme.  

Last month schools across Lewisham led the way in tackling race inequalities in education by signing a pledge on Windrush Day.  The pledge commits schools to work towards a number of targets, including reducing exclusions for Black Caribbean and dual heritage pupils, targeting ambitious outcomes for these groups and other minority ethnic groups, developing stronger relationships with parents and carers and improving Black representation in school leadership and governing bodies. 

The pledge helped to launch a programme aimed at tackling race inequality in Lewisham schools, which also includes workshops and teacher training on unconscious bias and modernising the curriculum, Black leadership and governor support.  The ongoing work will be monitored and evaluated regularly through pupil and staff surveys and focus groups.

St Dunstan’s College, a Lewisham-based independent school, will be providing free use of its facilities for the project. 

Damien Egan, Mayor of Lewisham, said:

“In Lewisham we’re proud of our diversity, and we’re committed to making sure that all of our young people, no matter what their background or ethnicity, have the best possible start in life and the opportunities to succeed.

“This project has the power to make a real difference; to give pupils that little bit of extra support to achieve their potential. I can’t wait to see it in action at the start of the autumn term.”

Cllr Chris Barnham, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and School Performance at Lewisham Council said:

“Our children and young people are the future of Lewisham, and we want them all to succeed, to achieve all that they can, and to seize the opportunities available to them in the modern economy, and the world city that is London.

“Developing skills such as leadership, communications and presentation is key to succeeding in life, and that is why programmes such as the Lewisham Young Leaders Academy are so important.  Part of the work we are doing to tackle race inequalities in education is to ensure all young people no matter their background can access high-quality training and learning programmes such as this.  I’m excited to meet more of our future leaders as this programme develops!”

Nicholas Hewlett, Head of St Dunstan’s College said:

“It is fantastic that Lewisham Council is able to see the potential of working together with schools such as ours. We can likewise see the enormous benefit of being more deeply embedded within the community of Lewisham, and the impact WYLA has already had on countless young people is phenomenal.

“This project has enormous potential for growth and development, and we look forward to trailblazing how private schools can have genuine educational impact on the broader community in which they are based and particularly for minority groups who are in particular need of targeted support.”

Read more about our work tackling race inequalities in education 

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