Students given the opportunity to raise aspirations

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Students have been offered the chance to develop a new project, funded by the Norwich Opportunity Area, to help raise young peoples’ aspirations and overcome the key factors that may hold them back from achieving their potential – particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Danielle Carey and Ryan Bedwell-Woods, students from UEA and City College Norwich respectively are founder members of the Norwich Opportunity Area Youth Board, and hosted the event on Friday 26th January, at Open Youth Trust.  They first asked students from Sir Isaac Newton, Notre Dame, Open Academy, Jane Austen College, CNS, City Academy, Sewell Park College, Hewett Academy and the Norfolk Young Carers’ Forum to consider what factors affect social mobility for the young people in their schools, colleges and areas.  Then, over lunch, the reps from each school worked up some initial ideas for projects to address some of these factors.

The reps who attended will now go back to their schools and colleges with a brief to come back on March 9th with a proposal for a project.  These will be presented to a panel including members of the Norwich Opportunity Area Partnership Board, Youth Board and other key partners, who will consider whether these ideas can be funded through the Opportunity Area and trialled across the City.

Norwich was identified as one of 12 Opportunity Areas in October 2016 by Education Secretary Justine Greening to improve social mobility. The city was placed second from bottom of 324 local authority areas in the 2016 Social Mobility Index.

The Norwich Opportunity Area is a network of local partners collaborating on coordinated activities to increase social mobility in Norwich. The Norwich Opportunity Area Youth Board was established in September 2017 to ensure that young people in the city could feed their views into the main Opportunity Area programme. In doing so they aim to help decision makers understand the key issues affecting young people and look for ways to improve Social Mobility in Norwich.

The Youth Board was created to ensure that young people have a voice in the work of the Norwich Opportunity Area, and is chaired by Chloe Smith MP for Norwich North. Chloe said “I wanted the youth board to reach out to all schools in Norwich, and other kinds of places too, so that it could fully represent young people in this important programme. I am very proud of how our founder youth board members have stepped up and I hope new members join after today too so that the Opportunity Area can work with the amazing young people it is there to serve. This is all about young people’s life chances in our city.”

Danielle Carey said “Friday went better than I could have imagined.  We had a large proportion of the secondary schools in Norwich and every students was excited and engaged with the task ahead.  Having never led an event like this before, I’m proud of the outcome and look forward to seeing the overall results on the 9th March.”  Ryan Bedwell-Woods’ role in the Youth Board is to act as a link to the schools as they work on their proposals: “I am looking forward to working with the schools and colleges as the Link Coordinator to help them come up with raise to increase awareness of social mobility and increase aspiration.  It will be great to see how they do presenting their ideas to the panel in March.”


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