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Why children should take a hike

LEADERSHIP can and should be taught in schools and pupils' success in it should be shown on a new National Record of Achievement, according to a report published this week.

Excessive stress on exam results and league tables makes it difficult for schools to find the time for training in leadership and responsibility within the curriculum, say the authors.

As for extra-curricular activities, schemes such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award remain too expensive for many young people and outdoor activity centres, once widely and economically supplied by education authorities, are disappearing. Yet, if the money can be found, the opportunities for expedition, project and field work overseas have never been greater.

"It may, after all, be much more valuable to help with a community project in the Himalayas or to take a steel band to eastern Europe than to go on a school exchange to France - many young people have access to part-time employment opportunities that would help them meet the cost," the report notes.

The authors, a panel of headteachers and other experts chaired by Nicholas Bomford, head of Harrow School, say that business could do more to help state schools in run-down areas provide opportunities.

And they suggest that boarding schools could develop links with partner schools in neighbouring towns to provide residential experience, with business or government helping with the cost.

They urge a campaign for a new National Record of Achievement that would reflect the development of initiative, teamwork and leadership skills. They also want to see schools' progress in developing such skills included in reports from the Office for Standards in Education.

The report, which was sponsored by World Challenge Expeditions, has a preface by Tim Brighouse, chief education officer of Birmingham.

The deferential world where the few were educated to lead over the many has long gone, he writes. "Our future depends on shared leadership and the involvement of as many people as possible in exercising it."

Symptomatic of the change in approach are recent developments at Rugby School, whose prefect system has been modified into a whole-school "teambuilding programme". Michael Mavor, the head, even prefers the term "teamworking" to "leadership".

"Developing Leadership in Schools", a report edited by Michael Duffy, is available from World Challenge Expeditions, Black Arrow House, 2 Chandos Road, London NW10 6NF (tel 0181 961 1122) price Pounds 4.99.

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