The Wood Foundation introduced YPI in Scotland in 2008. Since then it has engaged more than 200,000 young people from the length and breadth of the country and granted more than £4.5m to local charities. UK Director Ali MacLachlan explains the potential The Wood Foundation saw in YPI as a way to invest in developing Scotland’s young people.
“Through our research and collaboration with educators, we realised the opportunity for an active citizenship programme that could be embedded in the culture and curriculum of schools that was both inclusive and sustainable. Equity and excellence are key tenets of YPI. Our organisational values of contribution and innovation have been equally important in realising the potential of a programme which is now established in more than 75% of Scotland’s secondary schools.
“YPI is a flexible and adaptive learning opportunity that recognises every learner brings a unique set of skills and experiences and offers an equitable opportunity to apply and grow these, while exploring new skills and issues.
“The active citizens of today and tomorrow must be resourceful, resilient, compassionate, and curious. YPI takes a wholly inclusive approach to empowering young people to lift their learning out of books, and take themselves outside the classroom to make real life connections, apply their time and enquiry in areas that engage and interest them, while provoking empathy and understanding.
“The real-life component is critical to success and YPI offers this valuable contextualisation and application of learning. YPI emboldens young people to speak up about what they care about, what is important to them, and how we can do better.
“For many students YPI is quite unlike any other project-based activity undertaken in secondary school. It is real, authentic, impactful, independent learning. It optimises the Curriculum for Excellence in a way that can be difficult with the prescribed content of a traditional curriculum. It clearly demonstrates the possibilities for, and impact of, skill development of a knowledge engaged approach to learning.
“YPI provides the scaffolding to empower young people to make informed decisions about what they want to learn, and about how they will present their learning. Through these choices, there are opportunities to celebrate success and achievement, but also to recognise and manage challenge and frustration in a real-world context, with real-world outcomes. These are so important in building the resilience and resourcefulness that we all need to proposer and grow. Throughout life we learn as much from failure as we do success, arguably more, so the opportunity to navigate challenge and problem solve towards a conclusion is important and formative experience.
“YPI has grown to become a programme of national significance. The continued growth and development of the programme is testament to its continued relevance for young people and unique offer within Scottish learning and teaching. YPI creates supported space in which to develop teamwork, communication, and presentation skills, while applying their curiosity, voice, and choice. It is relevant within the learning communities of today, by providing delegated responsibility for grant making, as well as developing the kind, compassionate, and creative Scotland that we wish to see.”