Elke Edwards, our Speech Day guest in 2019 and Founder of human development company Ivy House, ran a live coaching session with thirty Lower Sixth pupils this week.

During this academic year these pupils have been taking part in the Ivy House Award, an award-winning educational course that aims to put leadership and character development at the heart of education.

“Ivy House is intended to help you live an ‘extraordinary life’. It aims to improve your relationships, wellbeing, confidence, ownership and teach you how to become a leader of others as well as yourself.” – Rosie S.

It was an extremely fitting way for the pupils to participate in their penultimate session of the course. Firstly, because it was being led by the founder and creator of the course and secondly because the session was entitled “My Pitch” and involved the Cranleighans having to pitch themselves to a woman who has worked with the senior leaders of 40% of the top 100 FTSE companies.

What better way to learn how to sell yourself? Especially at a time when these pupils will be embarking on such as a process in the coming months as they look to shape their futures beyond Cranleigh.

Please read on for student testimonials by Lower Sixth Formers Rosie S. and Robbie M., who both wrote about their experiences of the course and why they would recommend any incoming Cranleigh Sixth Form pupil signs up to do the Ivy House Award. 

Robbie M.

Ivy House has influenced talks on bystander culture, body image, rape culture and far beyond, and has benefitted every individual who engaged in the course and all of those around them. 

I was initially sceptical of an award that I was told might change my life, however a year on and after much self-reflection and personal development I will in fact confirm that the Ivy House Award has fallen anywhere but short. The final episode of the award welcomed its very founder Elke Edwards into Cranleigh grounds for what can best be described as a masterclass on pitching oneself. We learned how to present ourselves and have conversations productively producing opportunity and growth, I don’t doubt this will benefit us in years to come. So to those in the year below myself considering this award, I must implore you to have a go, open yourself up to change, explore your strengths and weaknesses, what’s the worst that can happen?

Rosie S.

Before starting the Ivy House journey, I would find it challenging to share my personal experiences with others.  However, the course has given me greater knowledge about my life and already I don’t know where I would be without it. In a group of around 10, we met every week, watched Elke’s video on the topic of the session, for example ‘my thinking’, and saw an example of it in action. We discussed it with the others in our group about how it could be applied to our lives and whether we could focus more on creating positive thoughts (or whatever the topic happened to be). Each session helped me face the less healthy areas of my life which I had been ignoring or hoping would resolve over time. It was also a new and different way to get to know other people who took part in the course for the same reasons and form deeper relationships of support, advice and improvement. One of the best pieces of advice which I took away from Ivy house must be the ‘event + behaviour = result’ equation. It alerted me to the fact that although I might not be able to change an event, I can always change my behaviour. Therefore, by taking an ‘effective’ approach to any situation, identifying when I am unnecessarily thinking pessimistically and adapting my thought process, I will be sure to see positive results. 

Having met the inspiring founder of the Ivy House awards, my understanding of how to ‘sell myself’ has changed completely. When thinking back to the 1-minute pitch we made before having had any coaching (I think that everybody started with the same fairly uninteresting line) it was like hearing a different person when we compared it to our pitch at the end. Elke taught us how to come across as engaging and memorable and gave us insights into how to make the ideal first impression. Being able to talk to Elke in person, and hear about the examples where the course has changed lives has been an experience for which I am immensely grateful. She helped me to develop my stage presence and ability to capture an audience. I have no doubt that this will come into great use in the future, more specifically in job interviews where being the most memorable and engaging candidate will guarantee the greatest success. My pitch changed from being pretty typical: Hi, I’m Rosie, I am seventeen years old, I go to Cranleigh school and for my A Levels I am studying… into: Hi, I’m Rosie. I am passionate about helping others and given the alarming figures of increasing teenage anxiety, it is clear that mental health is an issue which must be addressed. Would you support having a programme on life skills which aims to tackle this critical topic? 

I would strongly recommend any Lower Sixth Former to apply for Ivy House because I see it as a platform for success. Although it may mean you have to face the parts of your life which perhaps you have put off confronting, the support and help which is provided on this programme will enable you to rationally tackle any future issue. So, in the words of Elke, be curious, be open and have a go.”