Supporting young people to ‘Engage’ with their education

Date 21.09.2022

Young people excluded or disengaged from school will find it easier to get back into education thanks to the work of two UON academics.

Working alongside Northampton Saints Foundation, Associate Professors in Learning and Teaching Emma Whewell and Alison Power have created an ePassport using the interactive online platform, Padlet.

This will make it easier for young people to talk about their progress and monitor their success as they progress through Northampton Saints Foundation’s Engage programme.

Engage is a social inclusion programme that uses the values of rugby to inspire, support and educate young people aged 10-16 years old who are disengaged from mainstream education and in need of additional support to regain control of their academic pathway.

Operating from five hubs around Northamptonshire, Milton Keynes and Ipswich, the Engage programme supports young people who are disengaged from mainstream education and in need of additional support to regain control of their academic pathway. The programme uses practical activities to empower young people to see the positives in everyday life with the aim to getting them reintegrated back into school.

Emma Whewell, Associate Professor in Learning and Teaching and Deputy Head of Subject in Sport and Exercise at UON, has been working on the project with colleague Alison Power, Associate Professor in Learning and Teaching. She said: “We are very excited about how this project is developing and how enthusiastically the young people involved have engaged with it. The children on the Engage programme are in alternative provision education designed to support their self-efficacy, educational outcomes, and future prospects.

“The impact that positive interventions such as this have on young people in the short and long term, for their learning potential, their health and their futures at work or home cannot be underestimated. The digital ePassport will reap many benefits for vulnerable young people to better understand their emotions and, we hope, journey back to mainstream education.

“Alison and I are both passionate about using technology to support learning and teaching and have enjoyed working with Northampton Saints Foundation to create the ePassport. This opportunity has allowed us to make tangible differences in our local community and we look forward to announcing further successes with this project.”

Jordan Letts, Head of Foundation and Social Inclusion Lead said: “It has been fantastic to work with Alison and Emma on this project. The passport has developed over the past four academic years and provided us with key statistical data to enhance the progressions of our young people. When we were approached by the university, we were thrilled at the idea of making it more accessible and enjoyable for our young people who find it difficult to write their feelings and emotions on paper. Since phase one we have seen an increase involvement with young people in filling out the document.”

With Phase One complete, the university has been successful in a second bid for Phase Two which would be to make changes to the e-Passport in line with recommendations from Phase One and roll out the provision to other programmes across the Foundation.