Developing resilience, voice, and engagement through evidence-based practice
The project aims to promote the development of robust research methodologies in schools and to provide a best practice model for the youth voice agenda, demonstrating its ability to support the self-advocacy skills of often-silenced groups through becoming a pragmatic and embedded feature of school governance. Research conducted about various models of youth and pupil ‘voice’ and participation in governance has found that ‘being listened to by adults’ and ‘being taken seriously’ are crucial to participant engagement and success.
The Illuminate project is designed to support the development of critical thinking and reflective thinking skills by Student Researchers. It is hoped that this will help young people to develop resilience to the various pressures which may obstruct access to higher education and to enable them to challenge stereotypes about young people perpetrated by the media. Now in its third year, Illuminate has been introduced to several schools and colleges across London and Kent. Illuminate focuses on issues as diverse as how to manage and enhance community cohesion in a school in a bipartisan area; how a new international 6th form will appeal to a range of young people; how a new Health Hut can support girls who are being bullied at school; how teachers can go from good’ to ‘outstanding’; and what effects a new building can have on teachers and students in terms of its noise levels.
How it works
- Schools identify a range of research questions. These can be in response to statistical data in need of context, Senior Management Team (SMT) or Governors, OfSTED advice or the School Improvement Plan, School Council or other pupil feedback (pupil-led), teachers undertaking Masters level or other research projects, subject or Key Stage department teams
- Small groups of around three pupils with a variety of skills and needs are identified for Student Researcher training
- The Goldsmiths research supervisor, Dr Anna Carlile, trains small groups of pupils in research and presentation methods: interview techniques; focus group leadership; visual research (taking pictures or film); journaling; and summarising ideas and evidence for presentation. These sessions develop skills of articulacy and self-actualisation
- Student Researchers take the research brief and are guided through a process to reach their own questions. They then carry out small pieces of research, with weekly mentoring
- Student Researchers and helpers summarise findings and present to school SMT and at an annual research conference at Goldsmiths. Certificates are presented to participants
- The Goldsmiths research supervisor collates findings and writes a research report which can be given to Governors
- Professional development can be either delivered by Goldsmiths or in-house
Research shows that ‘being taken seriously’ is a crucial element of a successful youth voice project, and the embedding of student researcher findings into CPD can show students that their ideas, properly researched and evidenced, are forming an integral part of school governance and school improvement.
Example: Improving outcomes for pupils with dyslexia
- SMT question: ‘How can we best support pupils with dyslexia to improve their grade in text-based subjects such as English and History? How do dyslexic pupils experience these subjects?’
- Student Researcher Team has chosen to include pupils with dyslexia. Pupil A records an audio-journal of her experiences after each History and English lesson for a week. After constructing a series of focus group questions with a helper, Pupil B conducts a recorded focus group discussion with three dyslexic pupils.
- Both sets of data are collated with helpers and presented to staff.
- In collaboration with Inclusion manager/SENCO, Goldsmiths research mentor analyses findings, incorporating available statistics.
- Recommendations and linked CPD are constructed and delivered to staff.
- Dyslexia pupils’ subsequent grades are compared with previous grades.
Timetabling and accreditation
Illuminate can be delivered at lunchtime, during tutor group sessions, after school, or as special day workshops at school or at Goldsmiths. Students can be accredited for the work either as part of a General Studies GCSE or as part of GCSE English or Psychology, Sociology and other AS level courses. Teachers can use the project to form part of an MA accredited module offered at Goldsmiths in the Department of Educational Studies.
How to Apply
The package can include staff training, student sessions, report to governors, Goldsmiths presentation event, basic participation certification and CPD materials. The costing will be prepared depending on the package required and ranges between £402 and £5,896. Different packages are available and the cost will reflect the number of hours required to deliver your package. We also offer a funding application support role and may be able to help you apply for funding for an Illuminate project.