Teenagers’ confidence for communicating is the focus of an initiative to help improve literacy in schools.
A six week project has seen life-changing improvements in confidence for pupils at All Saints Academy.
The project has been developed by the Devon Collaborative Outreach Network (DCON), a group of universities working together to widen participation into higher education, as part of Government social mobility targets.
Dr Roger Pitt, Student Recruitment Manager at the University of St Mark & St John, said: “We are proud to be part of a project that so clearly improves the life chances of young people within our community. Unlocking potential is at the heart of everything we do and we commend DCON for developing such an innovative and successful approach to this vital area.”
The University of St Mark & St John, Plymouth College of Art and Plymouth University provide a wide range of events and opportunities for young people.
140 12 and 13 year olds at All Saints Academy in Plymouth were the lucky recipients of a project delivered by Articulacy. Student Ambassadors from the universities work alongside pupils in workshops as a way of sharing their experiences and breaking down barriers to higher education.
William Thrall, DCON Outreach Officer, said: “Our outreach activities and resources have been well received by teachers as well as pupils. They really help to develop their knowledge of higher education. Articulacy sessions have had a significant impact on the confidence of those who have taken part and we look forward to facilitating more.”
Megan Collins, 19, is studying Primary Education at the University of St Mark & St John. She said: “Some of the year 8 students felt they had nothing to talk about and that they wouldn’t be able speak in public, but they all had really diverse interests and it was good to show them that each person had something interesting and important to say.
“It’s been amazing to see the change in confidence throughout the project, and when they finally stand up to recite a poem by heart, read a passage from a book and talk about a topic of their choice, it was amazing.”
Julia Ward, Director, with her Co-Director Ali Shorer, set-up up the organisation to inspire people to become confident communicators. She said: “They finish the project walking ten feet tall and with top marks in English Speaking Board exams.
“We feel that soft skills, such as articulate communication, are being lost”, she said. “We notice that teenagers are spending more time texting each other, on social media and online, but they lack the skills to speak confidently in front of anyone.
“Working at All Saint’s Academy has been an absolute delight as it’s a school determined to do whatever it takes to help students succeed.”
For more information about the Devon Collaborative Outreach Network visit www.devonoutreachnetwork.co.uk.
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