Raising Aspirations and Achievement
Origination of the partnership Project
The project originated out of a meeting between Tuaneri Akoto (Elevated Aspirations Ltd), Shaka Daanwi (Young N Gifted) and Miss Linda Potticary (Royal Docks Community School) regarding youth work in the Custom House Area.
During the meeting issues around young people in Royal Docks School were raised – especially around gangs and gang related incidents. The conversation then progressed onto how we could work in partnership to address issues of gang related incidents and under achievement.
Raising Aspirations and Achievement
The project was to be called Raising Aspirations and Achievement. However, within the project specific sessions were to be ran that addressed the identified issues:
- Gangs and knives
- Girls and gangs
- Aspirations and achievement
- Sexual health
- Music and radio production
Each project within Raising Aspirations and Achievement are to be linked to accredited awards called Youth Challenges and Youth Achievement Awards.
The Youth Challenges and the Youth Achievement Awards are an activity-based approach to peer education.
The Awards are designed to help develop more effective practice by encouraging young people to progressively take more responsibility in selecting, planning and leading activities that are based on their interests.
The peer group model encourages the development of a wide range of life skills through a flexible and informal approach.
Gangs and Knives
It was decided that the best way to get young people in these sessions to talk freely was not to challenge their attitude, behaviour or views held. The approach adopted was to get the young people to walk through their attitudes, behaviours or views and raise questions about what would have happened if they had taken a different course of action that caused a positive outcome.
The approach of looking at a positive outcome that the young people themselves chose caused them to seriously think about how they themselves contribute to negative outcomes that impact on them.
The discussions were about getting young people to look at their views and perspectives on Gangs, guns and knives. Slogans were then created which the young people incorporated into their creative arts canvasses.
The creative arts element, when introduced, really encouraged the young people to participate. Such to the extent that even when the sessions finished at 3.15pm some members stayed until after 4.00pm.
Unfortunately during the 5 week session a young person who the members knew was fatally stabbed. This incident really made the young people see the value in the discussions, the creative arts sessions and their attitudes to gangs, guns and knives.
This was really reflected in their creative art work which demonstrated a sadness and resistance to gang influences and gang related potential outcomes.
Girls and Gangs
There was a structured programme with slots for individuals to lead and plan certain activities for themselves; information was shared as the young people took part in discussions, writing up comments on flip chart paper and white board. A major part of the session was on completing the Youth Achievement Award workbooks.
The workshop started with mixed feelings and behaviour been displayed by the young girls, some were keen to get started and others unsure and reluctant to engage.
Over the weeks the behaviour of most of the young girls went from a lack of interest to wanting to take part in discussions about gang related issues and solutions to problems they knew about.
Session topics covered; what is a girl gang?, how girl gangs operate, codes and practices of different girl gangs, girl gang locations, safety, risks, how to get out of girls’ gangs safely, what things to look for when associating with peers, negative influences, reputations, code of conduct in different settings, dress codes and post code.
Raising Aspirations & Achievement and NEET
The Raising Aspirations and Achievement sessions targeted young people from year 7 to year 11. However, two sessions were organised, Wednesdays for 11 to 13 year olds and Thursdays for 13 to 16 year olds.
The group over the past few weeks have looked at ambitions, targets, goals and aspirations, what they are and what they mean to them. In order for the sessions to have meaning the young people were requested to provide personal examples.
As facilitators we engaged with all of the young people. We actively encouraged them to contribute to the session in a way that was non forceful, threatening or intimidating.
One young girl was most definitely an introvert. Rather than demand that she speak publically a facilitator approached her and allowed her to whisper her opinion to him. In this way we managed to get her to participate and contribute to the discussions furthermore this encouraged her to participate in her Stepping Stones Award.
Towards the end of the project the young girl clearly felt at ease and consequently totally contributed and raised points of view relevant to the session without the need to whisper.
Music Production/Radio workshop
Since starting the music production and radio workshop I have seen the students engage and commit themselves to all activities presented.
They have gained personal skills ranging from leadership, peer sharing and taking ownership over their work. They all have been responsible and respectful to each other showing that they can follow instruction and complete tasks.
The students are split into small groups with each group covering one of the following areas:
- Music Production
- Community News
- Advertising and Marketing
Each part is carefully put together and overseen by other members. We as facilitators try to get the young people to lead on each area. Our capacity as staff is to actively support the young people during each session.
They have worked extremely hard over the past few weeks and managed to create a radio show called: JAMIN FM – frequency 86.2 using GARAGE BAND.
Sexual Health Sessions
The sessions were planned around key areas previously identified by the project manager and myself. Positive relationships, why people have sex?, sexual health services and STI’ s were covered in the four workshops.
The sessions were quite informal and the in sexual health introductory activity was a good ice breaker and enabled me to build rapport quickly with the group.
It was surprising how little that the young people knew on certain issues. However, there were many subject issues that they were very well informed on.
However, merging two groups was initially daunting. The first session group was larger than I expected and it impacted on the set preparations. Once I had come to grips with this the sessions went quite well. It was very beneficial to have staff in the sessions as this helped in terms of the young people’s behaviour, challenging issues.
Some young people raised the question of inappropriate sexual contact or being groped. One of the ways this was addressed was to raise the issue of the law. This showed young people that touching someone in a particular manner can be viewed as sexual assault. The outcome of this is that it might affect their freedom.
The content of all sessions were very well accepted by the young people. They actively engaged in all discussions.
Stepping Stones Accredited Awards
All young people were to participate in the accredited Stepping Stones Award. The participation in the awards was the means to encourage the young people to engage in academic activities. The sessions were not just about participation but also about engaging in an activity that contributed to their educational attainment.
The awards concentrated on the development of several aspects of young people’s social, emotional and communicative abilities and skills.
• Recognise and accredit young people's achievements
• Encourage progressive responsibility and ownership of learning
• Encourage participation and social inclusion
• Use peer education
Most of the young people are now fully engaging and participating well in the activities. Such to the extent that they are taking responsibility for their learning. Young people are now taking decisions about what they do and how they do it.
Attitude and attitude change
Originally the members were disengaged and disruptive. Their attention span was short lived and at times they were non-responsive.
This persisted throughout the first session to the extent where staff had to seriously discuss with them their attitudes towards the session and each other. This involved discussing with the group their true potential and true worth.
Additional to this was the explanation to the group that they were demonstrating the very attitudes and behaviour that young people are stereotyped as.
As a consequence of the first sessions more ice breakers and fun activities were used. This enabled the members to speak more freely and discuss issues that at first they refused to engage in.
Within the 3rd week, in some sessions, the members were self-policing. This meant that peers were ensuring that misbehaviour was kept to a minimum.
The presentation was attended by the Head of School Ruth Martin, Tuaneri Akoto (CEO Elevated Aspirations Ltd, Councillor Christine Bowden and over 60 young people and staff.
In her address to the students Councillor Bowden acknowledged that young people are given a bad name. However, the Raising Achievement and Aspiration Project had gone a long way in restoring the reputation of young people through the great work that the young people had done on the project.
Many partners were involved in bringing the Raising Aspirations Project into fruition. Elevated Aspirations Ltd is thankful to all providers that engaged with the project.
Young N Gifted
Young N Gifted delivers youth work through a series of projects and activities. It extends its provision through a series of neighbourhood projects in partnership with other providers including the voluntary sector, and schools.
Royal Docks Community School
The Royal Docks Community School is a purpose-built, mixed, community comprehensive school for students aged 11 to 16. Royal Docks Community School has over 1,100 students. The school’s facilities are exceptional and it is a wonderful place for young people to learn and grow. The school building has achieved national architectural recognition for its design.
Please select a project to view
- Raising Aspirations and Achievement (click here)
- Building Resilience (click Here)
- Respect and Values (click here)
- Sing 4 Peace (click here)