What Happens when you give Young People the Keys to the School?

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The results could be even better than you’d ever hoped for… as one school explains.


Our Young Researchers and Evaluators (YRE) programme, like all UFA programmes, is about giving young people a voice, but also allowing them to take some responsibility in researching, evaluating and improving an aspect of their school/organisation. We’ve seen some extremely successful projects and worked with some truly amazing schools and organisations; Royal Shakespeare Company, Birmingham Children’s Hospital’s Young People’s Advisory Group – Aspire and Curious Minds (Arts Council Bridge organisation). Read about another of our YRE programmes, The Juice Festival, here.

After training several schools as part of a cluster model delivered in the spring of this year, one school, The Severn Primary in Cardiff, has told us about their YRE experience. The group of nine and ten year old pupils set out to research how they could improve their learning environment.

The pupils quickly identified their playground as an issue; it’s size – it’s a very small playground often with 240 pupils there at any one time; accidents – the size leads to more bumps and knocks and lack of facilities – with so many pupils, some children aren’t getting the opportunity to use the play equipment.

The young researchers spent some time observing playtimes, before coming up with a survey for pupils – as well as a simple button in a box voting system to get views on staggered break times.findings

They then analysed  their results and presented them and their recommendations to the head teacher, the senior management team and the governors.

conclusions and recommendationsThanks to the efforts of the young researchers, and the insights they provided that senior members of staff may never have thought about, a new timetable was implemented just after Easter and head teacher Julie Morris was so impressed by the results she awarded the team £1000 to buy the new play equipment.

“The Young Researchers project has been a huge success at Severn Primary School. Not only have the Young Researchers thoroughly enjoyed the project but they have learned a range of new skills. Their research has led to staff reorganising the times of morning lessons in all Key Stage 2 classes. This is pupil voice at its best,” said Julie.

And the feedback from the young people involved was just as positive! “We love the fact that we were listened to because we had done a lot of research and we thought about how to make the school day better. When we came up with a plan the teachers tried it and liked it,” said Megan Warry, one of the school’s team of researchers.

Sian Ovens, UFA associate for South Wales, said the programme had delivered a real impact on developing learner voice in of all the schools taking part.

“The challenge set for the young people was to identify what they felt were the important things to improve their learning environment, learning experience or parental learning,” she said.

“Thirty five young people drawn from Year 5 in primary schools and Year 7 in secondary schools took part, learning academic level research and evaluation skills as well as presentation skills to take their findings back to the senior management teams and governors in their schools.”

“It’s been fantastic to see how each set of researchers has developed their own project and how the schools have embraced the opportunity to develop young people’s voice in their organisation.”

Would you like to let some young people loose on an issue affecting your school or organisation? If you’d like to know more about our YRE programme click here.


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