Teachers and education leaders acknowledge that social action projects are an important part of wider learning. Ofsted inspections require schools to show their understanding of the benefits that such programmes can provide. But despite this recognition, opportunities to deliver social action projects within the core curriculum are increasingly limited.
This means that social action schemes that can be delivered within the school context but outside of the mainstream curriculum provide an ideal solution for schools trying to widen and deepen the range of competencies their pupils acquire.
Schemes such as vInspired’s nationally recognised volunteering initiative give the means for schools to provide their pupils with valuable opportunities to acquire life skills alongside and in addition to their academic credentials.
Such skills as the ability to communicate effectively, work in a team, and acquire leadership qualities are regarded by educationalists as vital. These are the skills young people rely on to progress successfully through further and higher education where the ability to acquire knowledge independently is at a premium. They are also crucial in an increasingly crowded global job market.
Recent research conducted by National Schools Partnership reveals that while schools are aware of the need to add a social action dimension to their learning agenda they lack the resources to do so. The research shows that more than 65% of teachers would use high quality, relevant resources which addressed such needs, if they were able to obtain them.
It also showed that the most popular social action projects were those which involved pupils in supporting local charities and community groups (80%+), those which enabled pupils to lead fundraising projects (78%) and peer to peer pupil mentoring projects (70%). All of these projects require skilfully created resources which become part of a school’s training repertoire for delivering effective and enduring social action activity.
Providing resources for schools around activities like fundraising or peer to peer mentoring is an effective route for businesses looking to meaningfully engage with local communities. Through putting your business at the heart of a local school-based social action programme you are credibly putting your brand at the centre of the community. Store-based or branded events and resources give an opportunity for valuable consumer and media exposure.
Creating resources or helping to implement programmes in schools can also be a successful route to employee engagement. Business volunteers in schools give credibility and real-life context for pupils while ensuring company staff are engaged with the social and community priorities of their business.
It is common for businesses to get caught up in complex community engagement projects removed from real social need. Supporting social action work in schools is both simple and effective. Streamlining your CSR agenda to focus on these kinds of projects can reap real rewards for schools, for communities, and for your organisation.
By Geoff Carr, Education Planner