Young people from Norwich learnt about social mobility by visiting their peers in Southend-on-Sea to discover how education is helping them fulfil their potential.
The group of 35 Norwich pupils, from Year 7 to Year 12, joined a ‘learning buddy’ in classes and took part in careers activities in Southend – an area that has made rapid progress in social mobility since 2016.
They also held discussions with students, teachers, support staff and council representatives when they visited Eastwood Academy, South Essex Further Education College and Southend Adult Community College.
Pupils will now present their learning to key stakeholders including headteachers and the Department for Education’s Opportunity Area (OA) Partnership Board to help them improve outcomes for young people in Norwich.
Tim Coulson, chair of the Norwich OA board, said: “The trip to Southend was designed by the Youth Board as part of their work to ensure local young people have a voice in the Opportunity Area programme and to bring back learning from an area that has achieved rapid progress in social mobility.
“Norwich OA schools and colleges identified students as young leaders from their school who would most benefit from the cultural and educational experiences and those who were passionate about making a difference in the lives of all young people in Norwich.”
Ryan Bedwell-Woods, member of the Norwich Opportunity Area Youth Board, said: “The Youth Board students have come away with lots of ideas of how to improve social mobility in Norwich to help them and future generations. I feel inspired that as young people in Norwich we can make a real difference to the lives of others in this way.”
Pupils learnt about Eastwood Academy’s Student Leadership Team and the responsibilities they take on within the school as part of the three-day trip from Wednesday March 20 to Friday March 22.
They met the Deputy and Vice Principals of South Essex FE college to understand more about how outcomes for disadvantaged students are championed across the college as well as hearing about the support students receive around future career pathways.
The pupils, from University Technical College Norwich, Open Academy, Notre Dame High School, The Hewett Academy, City of Norwich School and Sewell Park Academy, also met Community Relations and Consultation and Engagement officers from Southend-on-Sea Council to find out about its ambitions for the area and ‘Southend 2050’ – a public consultation about the kind of place people want Southend to be and what needs to be done to get there.
Students who helped create the ‘Norwich 2040 City Vision’ met with Southend’s Youth Mayor and Youth Council Chancellor to understand more about the ‘Southend 2050’ engagement programme and how young people have been involved.
They also visited London to explore the city and took group selfies in front of cultural spots, interesting architecture and places they would love to work in the future.
Research shows that learning through arts and culture can have a positive impact on health, educational attainment and future employment and the pupils were given the opportunity to watch West End show Les Miserables as part of the experience to help raise their aspirations for the future.