In The TESS (May 2), Walter Humes, professor of education and associate dean at the University of the West of Scotland, agreed that Columba 1400 programmes were "hugely rewarding on a personal level" but claimed the case for long-term systemic benefits for schools had yet to be established.
Our experiences at Cardinal Newman High indicate that the programme is beneficial to leadership development across the school. We were fortunate to be allocated places on the Ambassadors programme with Columba 1400 in February 2007, and the three staff and 12 S3 pupils had a wonderful experience. We have, however, exploited their experiences to the maximum to impact on leadership across the school.
Since then, our "Skye Guys" have created new school aims; prepared and delivered a presentation to staff and to all pupil assemblies (103 and 1,090 people respectively) on key aspects of leadership and assisted pupil support staff in revamping our pupil councils.
They created a Cardinal Newman High School Leadership Academy and have trained 24 younger pupils and four staff at residential weekend events at Kilbowie Outdoor Centre. These "Kilbowie Kids" are playing an important role in leadership development, delivering a programme in each of our cluster primaries and involved in our annual P7 conferences and induction days. This approach will ensure that the initial investment in Columba 1400 will continue to have systemic benefits for young people and our school.
Our development of leadership has been impressive and widely recognised. In our recent HMIE inspection, one of our five excellents was for "Care, welfare and development", with clear statements about the role of pupil voice in the success of the school. Skye Guys have been shortlisted as Team of the Year in the North Lanarkshire Council Excellence Awards for 2007-08.
When discussing our strength in developing pupil voice and leadership, I always acknowledge the impact of Columba 1400 on our journey to excellence.
Isabelle Boyd, headteacher, Cardinal Newman High, North Lanarkshire.