A Bexhill school has noticed a ‘real difference’ as a result of an education project that focuses on raising the aspirations of students.
Year nine students at Bexhill Academy took part in the Be the Change programme last academic year which aimed to provide life skills and get them thinking about how their behaviour may affect their futures.
For the year group, there has been a reduction in the reporting of bullying and the number of exclusions since the start of the project.
Assistant principal Trudy Hillman was pleased with the results but believed the more important impact was the difference in pupil’s self-confidence.
“I think what’s more important than the initial stats, is that the students were reporting on how they all though it was a success, which is really interesting,” she said.
“It was the students who were seeing an increase in confidence and how they saw themselves, plus realistically looking at their futures and how their behaviour now impacts on their ability to make future choices.
“A number of staff who have been supporting it right the way through, which is important for staff to be the same the whole way, those staff were noticing changes.
“Also teachers were seeing that confidence in our young people in simple things like being able to stand up in class and talk, particularly with quieter or more vulnerable students.”
Be the Change saw the whole year group take part in an event at Azur St Leonards with the organisers Humanutopia and LoveLocalJobs.com.
Then 120 students were given business mentors from sponsors Hastings Direct who met with them regularly to give advice and for the pupils to learn more about working life.
Ms Hillman said the mentors helped the students think about what they want to do with their careers and how poor behaviour may hinder that.
“One of the things we talked about was the success of the mentoring side of it, as students got to go into a work place and speak to the business mentors,” she said.
“We talk about building up resilience but it’s about putting that into meaningful practice and being able to talk with the mentors, who were essentially adult strangers in a safe environment, was great.
“And to come away from that and see how much they valued that relationship which showed them what they might want to do in the future, was really good.”
One student in particular stood out for the teachers as Ms Hillman said she went from being very timid and low in confidence to speaking to a room full of strangers about the project.
After a few more get-togethers for the whole year, everyone who took part was celebrating at the ‘graduation’ ceremony at the school in July.
The project continues with the new year nine students taking part in the programme which launches tomorrow (Thursday, October 6).
Some of the students who particularly excelled last year volunteered as ‘heroes’ for this term, who will help the new pupils and guide them through the process.
“We are working with some successful students from last year to become ‘heroes’ to work with the new cohort to support them,” Ms Hillman said.
“It’s about growing and sustaining it.
“They are volunteers but teachers and mentors said they really stood out. It sustains the project past the year events.”
Hastings Direct events and community relations manager Jay Wootten added: “We are very proud of the success of the 2015/16 ‘Be the Change’ programme and are excited about welcoming the new cohort of year nine students to the 2016/17 course.
“We already do a lot of work with local schools, colleges and within education to guide and advise young people.
“Be the Change offers us further opportunity to support students in our community and hopefully make a real difference.”
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