Boosting positive interactions and self-esteem was the aim of workshops that took place with students from Years 9 and 10. Trainers Lauren McCormack and Steve Bicket from the organisation Humanutopia encouraged them to talk about emotional issues, take part in group work and tell each other their aspirations for the future.
The sessions took place on consecutive days and the feedback from staff, students and their parents has been very positive. Lauren said: ‘This is our personal development course. The first part of the day is about students reflecting on themselves, their past decisions and the things that they do to either impress people or to hide away from challenges. It has been a real test of their character and getting them to answer the question “who are you?” The afternoon got them out of their comfort zone and working with people they would never normally choose to.
‘We try and create lots of ups and downs and we address how to improve their self-esteem by letting go of things you use to cover up your brilliance, whether that is toughness or make up layers, it is about letting those go. Finally we encourage students to name their dreams, letting people know what is most important to them, what they want to do and having the confidence to say it out loud.
'We work in schools all over the country and it’s always different, but the audience reaction is always the same. We get feedback from people who are in university or college now who put their success down to a day they have had with us years before.’
Steve added: ‘The aim was for the students to see themselves and the whole year group, in a different light. We want them to really reflect on themselves as an individual. The students were really expressive, honest and open and it is an emotional day.’
The training was funded by Northamptonshire Police, who have already rolled it out and seen a positive impact in another area of the county. The training is now taking place at secondary schools across Corby and the police will monitor its effect.
Inspector Vaughan Clark said: ‘I brought Humanutopia into four or five secondary schools around the Rushden and Higham Ferrers area. We get detailed crime figures and I suddenly saw this massive drop in violence between 13 to 16 year olds on 13 to 16 year olds across the area, particularly out-of-school violence and the only thing I had done was to bring Human Utopia in. I think it has a major impact. By the end of this year we will have given this training to all 13 and 14 year olds across Corby and we want gauge its impact in this area.
‘The key message is that you are never going to like everybody and everybody isn’t going to like you, but that does not mean you have to default to being nasty. The other key message is what you achieve between the ages of 13 and 14 and 16 is going to shape the quality of the rest of your life in terms of your employment, how much money you have and where you live so these are a crucial few years for these young people.’