Motivated by our commitment to nurturing within our young people the capabilities to live ‘a life worth living’ (Sen, 1999), we strive at All Saints’ College, through our ATAR Plus approach, to break down the barrier between school and ‘the real world’. To that end, we provide, for instance, ‘real world’ challenges in classroom activities, ‘real world’ partnerships for our students, ‘real world’ opportunities with which students can engage, and so on.
This is because, we believe that, rather than being separate from – or solely in preparation for – life beyond the school grounds, school is the real world.
In authentic contexts students develop a sense of agency and purpose. Charles Leadbeater (2017) reminds us that we need to help our young people prosper by ‘not doing the routine tasks at which robots will excel’, but by learning to act rather than to be acted upon; by having an orientation toward the future; a meaningful plan; an awareness of one’s environment; and the ability to connect and collaborate with others.
Leadbeater examines the four essential components of student agency. Students:
(i) should be purposeful;
(ii) should become reflective through learning by doing and in action;
(iii) need to make an investment in pursuing their purpose;
(iv) need to learn to take responsibility for their actions.
So, what is The Agency?
While, importantly, maintaining the strong service ethic amongst our students – where ASC students develop the lifelong habit of volunteering their time and talents for the betterment of their community/ies – the College’s Beyond Boundaries Institute is pleased to launch The Agency, a forum that offers students the opportunity to apply to undertake various (paid) tasks at the College that will help them develop Leadbeater’s four essential components of agency and to apply their passions, skills and talents in authentic contexts.
Interested students (aged 14 and above) will need to apply formally for the evolving list of roles, shaping statements of claim that highlight their capabilities, and then be available for interview for the short-term contracts. The initial list of contracts we will be advertising includes:
- Book reviewer;
- Oral history documentarian;
- Grounds/maintenance work;
- OLP equipment assistant;
- Video editor;
- Student ICT helpdesk.
As explained earlier by Leadbetter, by providing students with real, meaningful, opportunities like the above, we create a safe learning environment where young people develop real world skills and develop agency in the process.