For ten years, Driving Ambition has helped young people in Oxfordshire realise the opportunities open to them once they leave school. But, says Peter Jordan, FRSA, we can do a lot more, and he wants your help
Are you a teacher? Are you a business professional? Do you have teenage children? Do you have a genuine interest in education? Are you looking to get involved in the work of the RSA? If you are any of the above, then then ask yourself this question: ‘Would you like to share your work and life experiences with young people to help them better understand the opportunities open to them after school?’
If the answer is ‘yes’, then Driving Ambition can help. For ten years this RSA project has been running at the North Oxfordshire Academy in Banbury, changing the lives of many young people. We have also worked at other schools but not as consistently.
So, what do we do?
We mentor, share our experience with students and help them develop. We set up links to local industry, to get work-oriented projects for the students. We provide specialist subject support for key areas of the curriculum. We run mock Assessment Days, to build student confidence and awareness of what job-seeking and interviews are really like. You’ll find out more here: drivingambition.org.uk, and you’ll also find feedback from staff and students on how effective the project has been.
And that feedback has been very positive from students, teachers, and outside agencies alike.
Charlie Ellington, a Year 7 student, took part in a 3D printing project sponsored by RSA South Central Region at North Oxfordshire Academy. He said: ‘3D printing technology is helping me engage in Engineering in a meaningful way so I can go on to create my own opportunities.’
A sixth former said of a North Oxfordshire Academy Assessment Centre Day: ‘I enjoyed the challenges of the day and think I gained valuable skills that will do me well in my future endeavours.’ And Ruth Draper, a sixth former at the school, advised: ‘Just get as involved as you can. If you can inspire kids like us, just do it!’
Dr Jackie Watson, vice principal of Oxford Spires Academy, said of their Assessment Centre Day: ‘It was a really good thing for us. Our sixth form students benefited enormously from the expertise of the RSA group …. the quality of the feedback has been really valuable to them.’
And Ms Hooley, a media teacher at North Oxfordshire Academy, said of the video on drink driving her students produced with NFU Mutual: ‘I was delighted that the students were able to witness that the months of hard slog and toil were worth it. The reaction and appreciation from NFU made the students understand how important these types of opportunities are for them.’
Jon Carlton, FRSA, worked with students on producing a promotional video for a local gliding club. He said: ‘The project fulfilled a real customer need. It also provided a group of students with a useful exercise which used a whole range of artistic and organisational skills to produce a professional work product.’
So… what would be involved?
You will need a teacher prepared to champion the project at a school. You need an RSA Fellow prepared to arrange meetings, write minutes (and probably find a good local pub or cafe to meet once every four to six weeks). You’ll need some Fellows (and their friends) to give up an hour a month to mentor students. Then you will be able to sit back and watch the project grow as people come up with more ideas.
And you won’t be doing it alone. The current team is available to help you get the project set up. Right now, the question we keep asking ourselves is ‘Are we the only ones who think this project is worth doing?’ We’re betting not, and that many of you out there will want to share your skills and experience to help young people.
We’ve been working hard to try to get the message out. We have created a project website to explain the project, what we have been doing and how you might start the project yourself. We’ve spoken about Driving Ambition at local and regional RSA meetings. We’ve had a lunchtime session at the Coffee House Steps at RSA House in John Adam Street. And we’ve had an evening meeting at the RSC theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon with the RSA Academies.
What has been the result of this activity?
On a few occasions we have had positive responses, some discussions, then things have gone very quiet and we have not heard anything else. So, our efforts have so far been in vain. After ten years, we know we have made a difference to the lives of many young people, and the feedback has been hugely rewarding. But we can’t leave it there.
So, do we accept the next ten years continuing the project in its current scope? Or will Fellows decide that here is a great opportunity to help the young people of this country gain confidence and realise their ambitions?
That’s our challenge to you. The opportunity is there, will any Fellows take it up?
Peter Jordan, FRSA, is a supply chain and IT professional with over 35 years’ experience in consumer goods. He has run his own consultancy business supporting industry standards bodies and cross business collaboration. With a number of other Fellows, he has for ten years been leading Driving Ambition
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