St Clement’s School in Dingwall has pupils from the age of three to 19 with additional support needs, including those with complex additional support needs. YPI is delivered in the senior phase, with pupils in S4 to S6.
A team of students recently secured the school’s YPI Grant for Mikeysline, a Highland based suicide prevention charity which uses a text-line as a means of contact. The team gave an overview of the charity’s work, prepared an animation of the causes of depression for their presentation, used a bursting balloon for effect to introduce feelings of anxiety and depression, and repeated the charity’s text-line number throughout the presentation for impact.
The enthusiastic and competitive group has a range of additional support needs including Down’s Syndrome, autism, learning delay, and mobility issues. One team member is on the Highland Children’s Forum representing young people in the region.
The other finalist team represented Reach 4 Reality which provides respite through outdoor activities. Many members of the school community benefit from its support. The team’s presentation included an interview and rap, which were conducted outside because of Covid-19. The school secured additional external funding so this charity will also be supported.
Both presentations were recorded and shared virtually with the three external judges from the local community. The YPI Showcase was filmed and a link shared with pupils’ parents since they were unable to attend in person due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Teacher Margaret Berry shares how YPI provides an opportunity for development, learning, and growth and how the programme is adapted to ensure pupils get the most impactful and beneficial experience.
“We run YPI every two years with our senior phase pupils. In some cases, they get to experience YPI twice offering room for progression. It provides opportunities for the older pupils to mentor their peers who are involved in the programme for the first time. We alternate YPI with the Duke of Edinburgh Award programme.
“We conduct visits to the charities we are researching and collaboratively prepare questions to ask the charity representatives.
“This year marked our second involvement with YPI. In our previous YPI session Sight Action, a charity whose resources are used by visually impaired pupils at the school, secured the funding. This year the pupils chose to focus on mental health and suicide prevention. Choosing a delicate subject that has an increasingly raised awareness and is especially pertinent in the current situation shows the students’ progression in understanding the wider issues impacting the local community in a very mature way.
“I adapt the YPI materials and differentiate them to reflect individual pupil need. We use it as an opportunity for wider teaching throughout the year, such as considering branding and mission statements, skills required for working in different charities, and opportunities for engagement with organisations post-school. We spend time nurturing teamworking relationships. We aim to deliver a programme with creativity and differentiation at its heart.
“Our final was due to occur in the previous academic year but was delayed due to lockdown. Other adaptations to reflect our current circumstances included filming the final, collating and editing the film clips, and utilising technologies such as Google Meets for the final. This involved considerable, unexpected ICT learning for staff and pupils, and these are skills we can now take forward and use further. Working as a class we had to devise solutions which worked across our stakeholder groups, in a class setting. Pupils provided detailed briefing on how to facilitate this. We were incredibly pleased with how well the system worked.
“Our previous final had a huge impact on the audience, and we were unsure of the impact of a virtual presentation. However, the emotional impact of the virtual presentations was very evident from the comments from the judges, YPI representative, and school headteacher. The impact of the virtual presentation by our students was a strong as the previous on the audience.
“YPI is important in many ways for our students. It builds confidence and self-esteem: one of our pupils developed huge confidence in presenting loudly and clearly through the programme and her self-esteem has been boosted as a result. It also develops presentation, organisational, and communications skills, it promotes skills for life and work, in addition to providing an awareness of social issues and charities.
“YPI provides an important link with the local community. It also gives opportunity to explore additional avenues for engagement post school, for work related opportunities and rasies awareness of organisations that can be accessed for support.
“We use YPI as a vehicle for our pupils’ learning, gaining SQA awards in Personal Achievement and Personal Development through the programme. Our school motto is ‘Inspiring Ambition, Nurturing Happiness’ which YPI enables us to achieve.”