Primary Youth Social Action - RSA

Primary Youth Social Action

Students benefit from helping their local community. Can we extend the positive impact of volunteering to primary schools?

The RSA and RSA Academies are working in 10 primary schools helping Year 4 students take part in ‘social action’.

What is social action? 

Social action is something done for the benefit of the community. For example, fundraising for a local charity or helping to restore and clean up a local park.

We want to find out how we can create opportunities for primary school students to take part in social action with a ‘double benefit’ – that’s where social action that is good for the community, but also benefits the students themselves. 

Why primary schools?

Social action isn’t common in primary schools. Surveys show most teachers either don’t know what social action is or haven’t thought about it. But we think social action in primary schools is important.

Research shows young people who take part in social action before they’re 10 years old are more than twice as likely to keep participating in the community. (This is called a ‘habit of service’).

However, many primary age pupils, their schools, and their communities are missing out on the benefits youth social action has to offer.

About the project

Over the last three years, in partnership with the Pears #iwill Fund, the we’ve been exploring high-quality youth social action in the primary phase. We designed, delivered and evaluated RSA4, a youth social action programme for Year 4 pupils in nine schools in the West Midlands.

Through a process of action research, we identified some of the wide benefits to pupils as well as the challenging and enabling factors for educators when embedding youth social action in primary schools.

The Citizens of now report (2021) and launch event are a celebration of the RSA4 schools’ efforts and achievements. We hope that with the practical guidance, it inspires more teachers to embed youth social action in their own settings, empowering pupils to be socially responsible citizens of now.

Watch our Citizens of now event

Find out about what went into our Primary Youth Social Action project and hear from those involved in our action research.

Read the Citizen of now report

What does high-quality youth social action look like in a primary school setting and what enables teachers’ abilities to embed youth social action into their practice?


  • The Pears #iwill Fund is created by Pears Foundation, and match funded by the #iwill Fund, a £54 million joint investment from The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
  • The #iwill Fund brings together a group of organisations who all contribute funding to embed meaningful social action into the lives of young people.
  • The #iwill Fund supports the aims of the #iwill movement - to make involvement in social action a part of life for young people, by recognising the benefit for both young people and their communities.
  • By bringing together funders from across different sectors, the #iwill Fund is helping to grow more high-quality social action opportunities for young people.


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