INTRODUCTION

UNleash was an innovative, transdisciplinary project based programme for schools undertaken in 2020. This virtual programme was introduced at the beginning of the pandemic times to support the school curriculum and to take advantage of students not having exams and a prescribed curriculum to follow.

The programme was undertaken with students aged 16–19 across all Cognita secondary schools in the UK and 50% of their Spanish schools. It provided a unique opportunity for students to ‘learn in the moment’ about the impact of COVID-19 on education, health and contrast the various leadership styles of leaders outside the UK or Spain.

Students worked in teams to research the UN Sustainable Development Goals, identify a problem faced by a different country during the pandemic, and use innovation and design thinking skills to create a social innovation aimed at improving the lives of the population in an allocated country.

The programme involved activities such as creating a news style article, giving a 10 -minute video presentation, delivering a talk in the style of a formal resolution to the United Nations in Geneva, creating a short advert on TikTok about UNleash and a 5-minute edited video capturing their journey over the programme.

HIGHLIGHTS

Student engagement

Even though the students were already out of school, and there was no direct academic benefit, there was good interest and involvement providing a unique and welcome educational experience at the end of a tough term.

Decision making & ownership

Students enjoyed choosing the SDGs they were going to concentrate on, working up their own conclusions and then thinking about how to solve them based on real information that they had previously gathered.

Different learning outcomes

The special approach used of focussing on real life issues, with a common goal of trying to solve real problems that will benefit humanity, had a positive impact on students, including the values that they shared during the process.

REFLECTIONS

PARTICIPANTS

The benefit of collaboration is the biggest take away. It is really beneficial for me to understand how to communicate with people who are not familiar with you.

I think I have improved my abilities to work as a team with people I usually do not get along with, allowing me to learn from other points of view and the skills other people have.

It gave all of us a great understanding of the SGDs which personally I wasn’t aware of before the UNleash project. Also, we had the opportunity to see how we performed in a group project, and I’m sure I will use the skills I have learned during the project for future groupworks.

PROGRAMME IN ACTION