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Every Child Can Be A Leader - Royal Grammar School Guildford Dubai

Clare Turnbull, has vast experience of working with prep school aged children from Maidwell, a well known small boarding school in Northamptonshire, to being Head of Prep at The Royal Grammar School Guildford for the last 12 years. Clare is now bringing her considerable expertise to Dubai as the founding Head of the Royal Grammar School Guildford in Dubai, opening in September 2021. Here, Clare shares her thoughts on leadership and how she believes it is never too early to embed leadership skills into the curriculum.

When we talk about being a great leader within the school community, we are not just talking about being Head Boy or Head Girl, or captain of a sports team. A leader is an individual who has complete integrity for who they are. They understand themselves, know where they want to go, and they want to inspire people to join them on a journey for good. We believe that every child has the potential to become a great leader if they are taught the right skills.

Aside from the clear value of academic learning, true success in life depends on so much more. Many global thinkers and influential organisations around the world point to the importance of educating young people to ‘think big’ and how supporting them to understand some of the significant challenges in the world can be highlighted, addressed and helped by them using their education to make a difference.

These points are the true essence of RGS Guildford Dubai’s leadership programme, Riyada. Meaning ‘leadership’ in Arabic, Riyada is at the heart of RGS Guildford Dubai’s curriculum. Starting with early years in FS1 and FS2, we teach pupils how to understand their own emotions and how to react, process and manage feelings. We also teach them about the importance of not sweeping emotions under the carpet, as well as teaching them to self-regulate. We empower them by giving them a tool kit which they can use to help manage their own emotions. Teaching children to recognise their emotions and giving them the power to choose their reactions helps a child feel in control, and in turn develops a confident and competent young person.

As children progress through the school’s year groups, their leadership development and learning grow too. In Years 1 and 2, children are taught to read people’s facial expressions, read body language and understand tone of voice. They learn about being role models, what it means to be kind, and what a team player looks and sounds like. Pupils in Year 3 and Year 4 learn about different leadership styles across the world and how having different leadership styles is important. Pupils do this through resolving problems in the playground, showing leadership in class projects or showing leadership in the school council. The older year groups then take their learnings from the school setting out into the community and even internationally through charity work and helping community causes.

Teaching children about leadership in this way is hugely beneficial as it results in confident children who understand themselves and in turn, learn how they can use their education and skills to help others. I believe that being a great leader is about having complete integrity in who you are and as a result, having a clear vision of where you personally want to go and how you want to get there, and a willingness to take people with you on your journey.

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