It has been clear for many years that what happens in our schools and colleges is only one part of what determines the life chances and success of our young people. Equally, if not more, important is the contribution of parents, employers, community groups and wider society to their learning and overall development. The difficulty is actually being able to find these people and mobilise them in such a way that they achieve more together than they do alone.
Our new project in Lowestoft, Suffolk aims to implement a new way of identifying and forming a tightknit network of the most active of these individuals and groups. Over the next few weeks, Learning Changemakers will be running 'social network analysis' surveys to identify through an open and independent process the people who are directly or indirectly supporting young people in the area. This involves asking ChangeMakers to name other ChangeMakers they know, who are then asked for their own suggestions of ChangeMakers, and so on.
The project, headed up by the RSA and run in partnership with Suffolk County Council as part of the Raising the Bar Inquiry, is particularly keen to find people who are working ‘under the radar’ and who are unknown to formal education institutions such as schools and Further Education colleges. Examples might include youth workers, active parents, arts groups, teaching assistants, community leaders and small business owners giving young people their first foot on the employment ladder.
The ultimate aim will be to form a support network that will bring these individuals together through a series of events in order that they can share ideas and advice, and support one another’s work. ChangeMakers will benefit from the support and insights of other likeminded indivdiuals, while the likes of the council and local schools and FE colleges will be able to draw upon this new pool of expertise to help improve their efforts to make the town a better environment for learning.
We are now calling for people to put forward their suggestions of Learning ChangeMakers in Lowestoft. These names will be added to our initial list of ChangeMakers that we can kickstart our 'snowball' surveying with. If you have any ideas of people who are improving the learning and life chances of young people in the town, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 020 7451 6836.
The diagram below illustrates the network of ChangeMakers that we identifed in a similar project in Peterborough. Click here to find out more about this project.