RSA8 Evaluation and Celebration Workshop

Now in its fifth year, the RSA8 Programme is a bespoke programme for a group of Year 8 students to design and deliver their own social action project that will have an impact on their own school community. This year, the reflections and celebration event took place on 3rd July at The Business School of the University of Wolverhampton.

The day started with pupils reflecting on the social issue they had wanted to tackle within their communities. From here, pupils began to record all of the actions they had taken as part of their project. They then methodically worked through the impact and outcomes these actions had led to, before considering what had gone well and what could have made the project even better if they had the chance to do it again.

Pupils were asked to record the skills they had collectively learnt from the project, as well as writing their own post-it note to mark their own personal proudest achievements. Pupils then placed their post-it on the ‘achievement wall’ and discussed their thoughts as a group. The student leaders talked about how they had enjoyed meeting lots of new people, how the programme has helped to build their confidence and give them the opportunity to develop soft skills such as problem-solving and self-belief.

Here’s what some of the students shared about their achievements:

“I am most proud of myself for communicating and working with other people who I don’t know and becoming for metacognitive”

“Because of RSA8 I spoke in front of lots of people for something I believe in”

“Being responsible for helping to improve the school and others education”

“I’m most proud of doing something I won’t have imagined possible”

Each group went on to put together creative presentations on their social action projects, demonstrating their fantastic communication skills and growing confidence.

Tackling mental health

RSA Academy and Ipsely CofE RSA Academy had both decided to focus on pupils’ mental health within their schools. 1 in 10 young people in the UK has a diagnosable mental health condition. To tackle this issue each group of Pupil Leaders had adopted a unique and creative approach. Pupils from the RSA Academy presented on their newly created mental health packs to support pupils with managing the symptoms of anxiety in the classroom.

Ipsley’s pupils presented on their wellbeing garden they had created within the school. Pupils had encouraged the community to donate old plant pots and gave them a new lease of life as they painted them in bright colours adding positive affirmations such as ‘tough times don’t last; tough people do’. Pupils are also considering how they can establish a pupil mentoring scheme within the garden so that younger pupils can openly talk to a peer if they are worried about anything.

Celebrating diversity

Churchill Middle School RSA Academy also emphasised the role of the wider student cohort in fostering positive relationships. During their presentation, pupils explained that they wanted to create a multi-cultural festival in their school to celebrate their diverse school community. Pupils organised cooking classes, language lessons and musical performance around Romanian, Polish, Welsh and Jamaican culture (identified by the pupils through a survey as the most common nationalities represented in the school).

Campaigning for road safety

Causes that pupils felt passionate about were often issues that personally affect their school community. Pupils from Whitley RSA Academy presented on their road safety educational campaign following a number of accidents involving students on a busy road outside of their school gates. Central to their campaign was a series of presentations to Year 7 and fellow Year 8 pupils to educate them about road safety and launch a competition for pupils to design their road safety signs so that student voices helped inform the solution. Pupils also took the initiative to write to the council to lobby for a zebra crossing and eagerly look forward to their response.

Supporting local causes

Pupil Leaders at Holyhead School were driven by the experiences of those close to them. Located across the road from the school is a local food bank. Pupils wanted to tackle poverty by organising an items collection and raising money for the charity. Pupils have carefully planned to carry on collecting food items right up until the last day of term to ensure that the food bank has plenty of food over the summer holidays when many families who would normally receive free school meal may struggle. Pupils also chose to tackle the sometimes-stigmatised issue of period poverty by working with a charity which provides red boxes filled with free period products to local schools. They then made sure to educate both girls and boys on this issue. While not formally part of their current RSA8 project, Holyhead School pupils have also spent time continuing the work of previous RSA8 project ‘secret garden’ by planting flowers outside the school gates to create ‘Soho in Bloom’ to bring nature to their city that local residents can enjoy.

Learning to lead

The day rounded up with a talk from the Associate Dean in the Faculty of Social Sciences, Stephen Grady. Stephen had been hugely impressed by the pupil’s actions and what they had learnt as student leaders. He spoke to them about how social action relates to employability skills and preparing pupils for the world beyond school. A report published by CIPD and Step-up to Serve found that 67% of employers felt candidates who have social action experience demonstrate more employability skills such as teamwork, communication and understanding of their local community.

Well done to this year’s RSA8 cohort for all the hard work put into the very successful social action projects!