13 September 2021

At the start of the academic year, the Senior Prefect team was fortunate enough to participate in a leadership training day, led by Mr Ian Huntley, an Old Birkonian and retired Brigadier, as part of their preparation for the new year ahead.

By Tasmin Lee, Head Student

An inspiring and educational day, the combination of interactive activities and learning forced us to rethink what we considered to be fundamental to good leadership and introduced us to new ideas and theologies we had not previously come across. Through completion and analysation of ‘The Mine field’ task, it challenged our initiatives and team-working skills, as well as allowing us to learn from our mistakes and improve next time.

‘I think the combination of both learning and doing made sure we actually got to see the concepts in action – even if we didn’t realise it at the time.’ – Archie

Though the day was focused around leadership, it made us realise the importance of having a team, and their support through challenges we will undoubtably face. Be that from listening to the quietest voice in the room, to asking for feedback and honesty, it cemented in us the need to create that psychological safety in our own team- every member feeling supported and listened to.

Whilst a fun and educational day that taught us all many new principles of good leadership, undeniably the biggest take-away from the day was the strengthening of the relationships between the Senior Prefect team. One Prefect said, “Completing activities together showed me qualities of the others I had not known before, and made me realise the importance of awareness and attention, and listening to each other to solve a problem.” 

‘Mr Huntley’s teaching was really engaging and overall it was a fantastic day.’ – Natalie

We are all incredibly grateful to Birkenhead School for the opportunity, and to Mr Huntley for sharing his wisdom with us and for making the day so enjoyable.

Background information on Mr Huntley:

Ian Huntley was commissioned into the Royal Marines on a university cadetship. His operational experience, mainly with 3 Commando Brigade, included tours in Northern Ireland, Northern Iraq and Afghanistan, where he was the Deputy Task Force Commander. He has held a number of command and staff appointments dealing with Counter Terrorism, Nuclear Security, and Targeting. He has also worked on policy and strategy in the Ministry of Defence and the Cabinet Office. For the last four years of his service, Ian was head of the MOD’s leadership centre, which was set up to improve the capacity of senior military officers and civil servants for strategic leadership.

Ian left the Royal Marines in 2016 and now works as an independent leadership, defence and security consultant, and an executive coach. He primarily helps to develop the leadership skills of individuals and organisations, and is currently working with the NHS, police, MOD and industry. He is a Companion of the Chartered Management Institute, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and an Honorary Fellow of Harris Manchester College, Oxford.