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Eastbourne to London creates aspirations in Year 9 students

On Friday 13th May ten students from Ratton School, Eastbourne made the early and long journey into London, continuing on their Yes Futures programme with the Play Your Part Day: a day where students are empowered to use their voice and engage with their local community.

The students immediately enjoyed a tour of Battersea Arts centre, learning about its history and going backstage to see artists’ bedrooms and the set of a current performance piece. Mesmerised and inspired, these students began to think about their futures and see how they might work in this industry. One boy even entertained us with his pianist skills whilst queuing for the bathrooms, responding to song requests from his peers who sang along.

The headteacher commented on how powerful it was to see the students gravitating toward their coaches: shaking their hand on arrival as a clear sign that a relationship of trust has been established. She could see how the combination of both coaching and external trips embeds vital learning; this combination of activities boosting confidence and resilience in her students.

Next they engaged in a ‘Think Big” project, an initiative that supports young people to get their ideas off the ground to make a difference to the world. Idea generation got the students talking about issues from pollution to relationship conflict, war to the expansion of technology, as well as thinking more locally. We then discussed ‘The World As It Should Be’ which started a heated debate around abolishing the death penalty as well as how people could be more polite. The students showed off their philosophical and critical thinking skills but the debate soon had to be brought to a close…

In groups of three, the students chose an idea to turn into a project, which they then pitched to the public. Students who had been quiet in the morning’s discussions, were soon leading the group and approaching members of the public with ease and confidence. One girl admitted that she stutters when she’s nervous but this didn’t hold her back at all and was later applauded for her confidence.

Students were buzzing and surprised at how easy it was for them to talk to people. The confidence they each gained might have been at varying levels, but it was certainly visible to see in each of them.

“He all of a sudden came out of his shell. That would have been a breakthrough for him” – Mark, coach.

“This is actually helping me with my social skills and how to approach different people. It’s making me more open” – Elle, Year 9 student.

Words by Emma Constantine. Emma is a past English teacher, currently working with Yes Futures to better understand how to work with young people outside of the classroom. @emmajulietc

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