By Victoria Vardy

IT was incredibly rewarding to celebrate the four Scottish schools and 850 pupils who successfully completed the pilot year of the ground-breaking Gen+ programme last term. Now, we are preparing to introduce our programme to thousands more students across the country, to equip them with world-class key leadership and meta-skills so they too can have the self-belief and confidence to face any challenge.

In addition to the five schools joining the Gen+ programme, the secondary schools involved in the pilot year – Barrhead High in East Renfrewshire, Lourdes Secondary in Glasgow, Morgan Academy in Dundee and The Glasgow Academy – have all signed up to continue in this academic year.

Our vision for the Gen+ programme is to reach every young person in Scotland, encompassing 360 schools and 290,000 young people within the next five years.

With Gen+, every child in every classroom will be given the chance to develop their unique talents. Our goal is to instil and inspire the next generation with the skills to learn, lead, and thrive.

Our course, developed by teachers and leaders across disciplines, takes a playful, adventurous approach to learning that has proved popular with educators and students alike. The online platform has a gamified, engaging interactivity, where students pick an avatar and strive for digital badges as they learn how to build resilience, communicate effectively, act on initiative, and lead authentically.

As a teacher, it’s a delight to see our blended learning approach – which combines the efficiency of online learning, with the benefits of relational, in-person classroom learning – come to life and spark success in our students.

To animate our curriculum and online platform, we have drawn from top talents in Scotland and around the world. Gen+, supported by the Peter Vardy Foundation, is led by a team of ed-tech innovators and educationalists in Glasgow working with the best global digital experts.

These include UX designers in Costa Rica, Rio de Janeiro and Dublin; instructional designers in Glasgow and South Africa; and Open Edx software developers in Ukraine, Houston, Toronto and Islamabad, all tasked with finding paradigm-shifting solutions for Scotland.

We have also partnered with the University of Strathclyde Business School and are developing a Gen+ Teach digital leadership library to equip teachers with pedagogical best-practices and build up their own skills as leaders in the classroom.

Why are we doing this? Simply put, the Gen+ programme is designed to encourage young people to see themselves as part of a wide cohort of young leaders who support each other and their local communities to make a difference and engage with global issues.

Its fundamental premises are that anyone has the potential to be a leader, that a bolstered sense of self-belief is a young person’s most valuable asset, and that early interventions in young people’s lives effect positive, sustainable, and long-lasting individual growth.

The Peter Vardy Foundation has committed to funding the pilot programme and current partnerships with organisations such as Thinkfour and DYW give us confidence that in the years to come beyond, Gen+ will justly serve Scotland’s young people.

Victoria Vardy is Chief Executive Officer of Gen+