This page outlines the educational programme which SCT has undertaken with the University of Leeds which has led to the development of the Youth Amplified website providing a range of free-to-use resources supporting the teaching and learning of speaking and listening skills among 11-18 year-olds.
SCT, in collaboration with Stephen Coleman, Professor of Political Communication at the University of Leeds, and supported by the BAFTA-winning creative agency Bold Creative and funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, has completed an exciting project to develop innovative, web-based resources to support citizenship learning and teaching.
The Expressing Citizenship project has led to the development of the Youth Amplified website which provides attractive, accessible and exciting educational resources to help young people between the ages of 11 and 18 improve their speaking skills and overcome the lack of confidence which prevents so many from expressing their ideas and opinions and engaging fully in their communities, schools and workplaces.
Researchers from the University of Leeds worked with four groups of young people from schools and youth groups over a period of three months in West Yorkshire, designing and developing techniques to help them express themselves more confidently and effectively. Katie Peate, the project coordinator, noted that “by working with young people over a series of weekly sessions, we learned a lot about what they wanted to say and why they felt unable to speak up in public. Some of the youth group members we came across were barely capable of simple small talk, let alone constructing a persuasive argument. Their progress has been incredible and we have gathered some amazing success stories”.
So many young people feel that nobody listens to their views. A number of excellent schemes give young people the opportunity to have their say and create impact. But even when they have the motivation to be engaged and the access to people who make it worthwhile, young people don’t always feel they have the speaking skills to deal with those opportunities effectively. Professor Stephen Coleman obbserves that “schools are getting much better at explaining how the political system works and what young people can do to make themselves heard – but almost no guidance is provided on how to speak in public in ways that will gain attention and respect”.
Youth Amplified seeks to address that deficiency by providing resources in a format which will appeal to young people and support teachers and youth workers both within and beyond the school setting.
The team focused on three core areas in creating resources to assist the teaching and learning of six civic capacities:
- Confidence – feeling positive about how you express yourself
- Projection – using your body and voice to support what you say
- Common Cause
- Negotiation – reaching agreements which benefit both parties
- Listening – actively engaging with what someone else is saying
- Argumentation – demonstrating the appeal of what you are saying
- Persuasion – changing someone’s mind about a point of view they had previously overlooked, disagreed with or misunderstood.
Each capacity is the subject of specific but inter-related online resources including:
- animated films in which young people discuss the skills they need to speak confidently and effectively in public
- videos in which young people talk about speaking challenges they have faced
- a self-evaluation quiz to identify personal speaking strengths and weaknesses
- a series of six lesson plans and a guide designed to help teachers, across the curriculum, and youth workers to support young people in the development of these skills
The guide will allow schools and other youth settings to implement a structured approach to skills development for each of the three core themes. They include activities facilitators can use and adapt; practical advice on how and when to adjust or select methods depending on the characters in the group; and suggestions on how to make the most of the website to complement and enhance offline learning.
Youth Amplified is at www.youthamplified.com.
SCT/UoL’s original project proposals are set out in more detail in Expressing Citizenship – A Project Summary.