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On Friday 22nd March London-based educational stakeholders from various different settings met with Youmanity for their 2SMILE workshop.
2Smile is a pioneering student-centred project funded by the European Commission to help vulnerable children achieve better results in school.
Research indicates that children from underprivileged socio-economic background are more likely to abandon education. They are also likely to fall prey to criminal networks and gang culture.
The project is being delivered together with six other European partners (Ireland, Italy, Greece, Finland, Portugal and Romania) with the objective of reducing the incidence of school dropouts. To this end, each partner country is surveying what pedagogical methods secondary schools currently use when faced with students’ challenging behaviour.
Over the next four weeks a multiplier 2SMILE workshops with educational stakeholders in each partner country will be discussing the role of education, local schools framework and the practical objectives of 2SMILE.
Our workshop was attended by influential educators - teachers, mentors and mental health practitioners - who are in constant and direct contact with vulnerable children already. The workshop highlighted an array of environmental, psychological and institutional shortfalls affecting the wellbeing of very vulnerable youths.
“Our youths are from first, second or third generation migrant families, ethnic minorities, youths in poverty who are often exposed to violent behaviour,” explained Cherie Johnson - founder of the charity Shared Intense Support. Miss Johnson convoyed the success of an Ambient-Learning approach she employs both in schools and out of schools engagement with challenging children.
‘For example, my students’ academic and behavioural performance improves dramatically by taking them out of the classroom for educational field trips,” continued Miss Johnson whose extensive experience in working with schools and communities is transforming young peoples’ lives.
Mental health is at the heart of behavioural issues seen both at home and in classrooms across London. Any new educational approach should be designed to help young adolescents change in how they engage with learning. Understanding the bigger challenges of day-to-day life e.g. what happens at home impacts how students engage.
“The pathway from home to the school gate is the turning point of whether or not children will engage with learning,” said Russell Williams from Unique Talent - an organisation working directly with gangs to transform behaviour and engagement with society.
Attending our workshop was the indefatigable Althea Smith - former Mayor of the Borough of Southwark. Mrs Smith highlighted the importance of using sports to change young people’s engagement with society. Sports help children appreciate the importance of rules and structure as well as the importance of being effective team-players.
Following the 2Smile workshop will be a questionnaire to be completed by our UK educational stakeholders and all corresponding partner countries.
Youmanity and the Finnish partners, Diaconia University of Applied Sciences in Helsinki, will examine the data from the all the completed questionnaires. It is from this data that 2SMILE will extrapolate the best possible teaching method to be developed into a new student-centred tool kit. This will be presented to our 2SMILE teachers participating in the program at a conference during the October school half-term in Puglia, Italy.
The final stage of the 2Smile project involves the implementation of the tool kit in the schools in all partner countries by 2021.
Youmanity would like to convey heartfelt thanks to the educational stakeholders who took part in our workshop, in particular Cherie Johnson for having provided a fil rouge with the invaluable participants to the project’s goals.
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