When Rebecca Dobson joined Drumchapel High School three years ago there was no Wider Achievement programme in place and she had to establish a brand new department. Her aim was to develop a substantial timetable of activities that would engage young people and help them develop skills for learning, life and work. She needed to find programmes that were straightforward and engaging for both students and staff and also get them involved in the local community and YPI was the perfect fit.
Drumchapel High School has now been delivering YPI to all S2 students for three years with Rebecca as their Lead Teacher and Principal Teacher of Wider Achievement.
“I’ve never worked in a school where the young people are so engaged with their local community,” explains Rebecca, “YPI is something that we can deliver consistently even though we have a new team of teachers delivering it each year as it is straightforward, not overly complicated, and resources & support are provided by the YPI Scotland team – it ticks all the boxes.”
The programme is delivered to the S2 students at the beginning of the school year. After the summer holidays the students take part in two weeks of personal development activities including team building, confidence building and presentations skills in preparation for the YPI launch.
“YPI has given me some of my proudest moments in this job”
YPI is designed to be a student-led experience and Rebecca explains,“We try to give students as much independence as possible, we inform parents by letter that they will be going out of school to visit charities and students are encouraged to be brave and not be afraid to ask for help, by doing this they learn resilience and perseverance skills.”
Once the S2 groups have done all their research and spent time with the charities they work on presentation skills and how to make their presentations interesting and engaging. The Final at Drumchapel has become bigger each year and many of the charities usually attend. They also get students involved in catering for the event and the ultimate goal is to develop the Final into a high profile evening event.
“An evening Final in the school hall would be more daunting for our young people but is definitely something we want to move towards as our students are certainly growing in confidence the more they take part in YPI.”
Some of the key challenges Rebecca has faced over the last three years is that some of the charities the students choose can be difficult to get hold of or may unfortunately not have the capacity or resources to engage with the students. Rebecca says:
“It can be really hard for young people to learn not to take it personally when a charity that they want to win a grant for can’t engage with them.”
She does state though that now that more charities have been involved with the YPI programme it has become less of a challenge. For staff and students of Drumchapel High School the benefits of YPI far outweigh any small negatives and one of the main benefits has been the ongoing involvement they have had with local charities.
“YPI has given me some of my proudest moments in this job,” explains Rebecca, “I have seen some of our students, who have their own challenges, stand up and present to people in order to win grants for charities to have a positive impact in their own communities. We have other students who have continued to volunteer with the charities. To see young people make an actual impact in the community is amazing – YPI has enabled that.”
So, what are the top tips for success from Rebecca and her team at Drumchapel High School?
- Let young people work with their friends. They are far more passionate about things when they’re working with their pals.
- Don’t be afraid to let some groups/ the odd group to fail a little bit.They won’t all engage fully with a charity and that’s ok. There are other ways that they can still be involved in YPI – e.g. part of the support team for organising the YPI School Final.
- Work with staff delivering the programme, make life easy for staff. Use the Resource Guide to make up a pack for staff and draw up your own timeline for the teachers delivering YPI.
- Be brave with it, go for it and see what you can do. This is the third year that we’ve done YPI and I still love it. It’s the first thing that I programme in for S2 Wider Achievement each year.