GameChangers CPD has been running alongside the GameChangers schools programmes for the past two years. Over four modules educators have learned about topics and gained new skills to support their students running social action projects.
The final module Cup of Tea CPD invited teachers to share best practice with one another, schools who have received £1,000 grants were invited to discuss the challenges and successes of running projects like these to inspire the wider teaching community.
Inspired by that conversation we would like to share the top tips for impactful Youth Social Action – from three experienced GameChanger teachers who’ve done it!
1. IMPACT INSPIRES
Youth-led social action empowers pupils to see that they can be part of the change: it’s not just up to adults.
My students did a big drive for a local soup kitchen at the beginning of the year – they organised it all themselves, did all the posters, did all the advertising, and then we organised that the Brixton soup kitchen, which is the local soup kitchen, came to the school to pick it up. The kids could actually see where their stuff was going.
When you are thinking about big problems – climate change or homelessness – it’s hard to see your own impact. But with our project the children could see the impact they had immediately, and that spurred them on.
2. THIS IS THE TIME
We had the opportunity and we went for it. We talked about difficult topics, like racial justice. We said, this is the time, let’s share ideas, let’s talk about how we want to do things better.
Children are very inquisitive and they see all these things on social media and they don’t actually understand the meaning of it. But when you actually give them the opportunity to have a discussion in class or have a round table and actually talk about it, then they understand it better. It’s just to give them that free way of expressing themselves and sharing their emotions and how they feel about things in the News whether it is George Floyd or knife crime. Giving them the opportunity has been one key area that has been very successful in our school.
3. FAMILY FRIENDLY
A lot of things happen in school and they just get forgotten about. We need to become aware on a daily basis and start spreading the word within the community. Then when children come to the school, everybody knows that we are on the same page and what we’re talking about and that is something we have done and we continue to do.
We celebrated all the cultures that make up our school community and took it outside of Black History Month. We have incorporated that in our reading – we’ve bought books, we’ve done a big social event where we had a cultural day where we invited families, friends, the whole community and everybody brought in their culture.
In schools with strong improvement agendas or schools where you’re working together to achieve something, being able to tell your story in the community in a positive way is important.
St Luke’s Primary School celebrate their Cultural Day 2022, funded by a GameChangers grant
We have a social justice committee and they all have lanyards and when there’s any situation they come together. We have meetings regularly so we can talk about how we can improve things in the school. So we’ve given the power back to the children to find out from them how they want to see things done.
The students, they really took it on, they were really, really wonderful, especially the year six and year five children. Tell me about what social action you would like to see unless present in front of the class. They love those things.
I’ve learned that students like to take ownership of their learning. So once you give them ownership of their learning, it’s something that they can fly with.
Participants develop soft skills: they take minutes of the meetings; they plan the budget. They develop confidence, and public speaking.
We had a huge event with the grant. It was a big after school event and the students organised it all themselves. It was very student-led and a lot of them talked about how they felt more confident, public speaking, and they had to speak in front of people, they had to tell people about their booth or their stall that they were running. These young boys, they were so into it, it was really good – they are going to be the leaders of the school in Year 6.
5. MONEY MATTERS
GameChangers grants meant we were able to purchase a lot more for the event. We didn’t really have a budget for anything like that. So definitely, for us, it improved our spending and we got everything we needed for the event, so I felt very happy with it.
Having the grant gave me motivation to follow through because I knew that I had this money that I had to use because sometimes I have such good intentions, but we’re just so busy that sometimes they fall to the wayside. But I knew that I had to stick through it with the kids because we had this money to use.
6. GET THE HEAD TEACHER BEHIND YOU, BUT DON’T STOP THERE
Get the head teacher behind you.
Get the senior leadership team to support you. It was easier for me because I was a head teacher. If I was going to the head teacher, I’d come with what I suspected I might need as far as time out of class or time to prepare, and I would definitely come with all the benefits that it would have for the pupils. Most people can’t turn that down.
Get the whole school behind you.
When it came to the event, I actually delegated. Every single member of my school had something to do in the planning. There was nobody left out and all the children were involved. Everybody just had something to do. Everybody felt like they were part of it.
6. SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL
Our project was about a small change. We showed that a small change is just as effective as a big one.
We looked at the community that we live in and actually how you can make a change just with your time and your enthusiasm. It doesn’t have to cost money. That’s important for them to know.
I’m saying start with something really small. Anything is going to take organisation, but start small and you can grow it. I think the pitfall is having an idea that’s way too big and it becomes unmanageable, it becomes a massive thing. It doesn’t matter if it starts small, it can grow.
If you’ve been inspired to support your students to take part in Youth Social Action, get in touch with us at GameChangers@big-ideas.org to see how we can support you!