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Achieving more: from passive to present learners

Published: 5 February 2019

The Ogden Trust is supporting a Prince’s Trust programme designed to help young people, at risk of falling behind in education, to reach their full potential. By working with a range of partners, including schools, colleges and PRUs throughout the UK, The Prince’s Trust Achieve programme supports students to transition from being passive to present learners as well as giving students the opportunity to develop life and character skills beyond the core curriculum. The objective of the programme is to improve attendance and behaviour by building confidence and engagement in education – whilst closing the attainment and aspiration gap between pupils and their peers.

The project, which includes the delivery of physics-based STEM enrichment sessions on the Achieve programme has already reached a number of schools and alternative education providers across the UK, including Athena School in Lincoln.

In December, we visited a STEM Achieve Club workshop at Athena School, which caters for secondary age pupils with social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs. The workshop was delivered by The Proctors and involved students making and racing their own rocket cars.

The session had a really positive impact on the group, helping to connect students with subjects in a fun and creative way, raising interest in the topic and hopefully breaking down barriers to learning.

Commenting on the direct benefits of the session, an Athena staff member said: “I think the most important thing they got from it was test, test, test! Getting things wrong is not always a bad thing… some pupils have already come back to me asking what else scientists do and if I can give them something to make.

In a student’s own words: “we got to make a rocket car and work with others and it was very thrilling and motivating”.

Beyond engaging with the subject, these sessions enrich the whole learning environment and help students to develop key social and communication skills, working as part of a team for a common purpose. Another Athena member of staff said: “most will find new people and changes to their routine difficult. However, with support from school staff and the encouragement from the presenters, all students who attended were able to engage and build a car. Students really impressed me with their focus and commitment to the task. They all took an interest in racing and finding out how they did!”

The Achieve programme curriculum promotes a flexible approach, using relevant experiential learning to support young people to achieve a range of personal and employability skills and gain qualifications. Nick Godden, National Head of Programmes at The Prince’s Trust said: “In order to fulfil our mission to help more young people transform their lives and give young people an increasing stake in our economy and society, we connect young people, government and employers to create the best opportunities for young people and industry. We work with a number of corporate partners, industry and training organisations to support the development and delivery of our Achieve programme ensuring content, activities and aims of the programme are relevant for the needs of business, today and in the future. The funding from The Ogden Trust has given us more leverage and scope to increase match funding opportunities and helped to raise the profile of STEM within The Prince’s Trust’s programmes”.

copyright: The Prince's Trust
copyright: The Prince’s Trust

Many of the young people that the Prince’s Trust support through Achieve are at risk of exclusion and completely dropping out of the education system. Achieve provides a space for them to re-engage with education through hands-on and problem-based learning, which show them learning can be fun. The programme itself includes Achieve Clubs which feature short, inspiring STEM enrichment sessions to boost motivation for learning by taking a practical approach. These sessions integrate science, technology, engineering and maths, and apply creativity to real-life problems and challenges. Nick Godden explains: “The STEM-based Achieve Clubs aim to help young people develop STEM skills such as problem-solving, creative and critical thinking. Students can take the principles they are learning and apply them to real-world examples or situations, giving young people an understanding of what opportunities are available within the STEM sectors and improving their understanding of the value and relevance of STEM within society.”

Despite the many challenges young people face, evidence shows that these early interventions do positively impact young people, in terms of both hard outcomes (improving improve attendance and behaviour) and improving soft skills.

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