What is the Make a Difference to Community Spaces project?

The Make a Difference to Community Spaces project is based on our successful Make a Difference Challenge, a child-led social action project for KS2 children. It provides pupils with an opportunity to identify and research a community space that they would like to improve and make more welcoming, especially to other children, through awareness-raising, fundraising, taking practical action or combination of all three!

Children will explore local public places they are familiar with, consider what they like and dislike about them, identify the community space they want to improve, decide on the best course of action to improve it, get involved in making the improvement happen and, finally, celebrate and evaluate their achievements.

The project kicks off with a training day for participating teachers, then teachers facilitate the project back in school, supporting children and helping them to bring about positive change. Schools' projects will also be featured in a comprehensive practice-based resource for all primary schools in England, enabling thousands of pupils to take social action to improve their local community spaces.

"The children have gained a real desire to make a difference, they are already talking about what we could do to help our community next year!" Participating teacher, 2019 Durham Make a Difference Challenge

Teacher Training Day - Tuesday 17th March 2020 - Shine, Leeds LS8 5HS

Participating teachers attend a full day's CPD certified training session during which they’ll explore what social action is, how to help their pupils consider what the elements of a good community space are, what we mean by child-led learning and how to empower their pupils to lead on a structured project.

Teachers will also consider how social action projects support pupils’ SMSC learning and personal development, and contribute to a broad and balanced curriculum. Delegates will be provided with access to a bank of online resources, including lesson plans and case studies, and our online training to support their own professional development, enable them to revisit sections of the training day and help them to facilitate engaging, meaningful projects.

Sign-up to take part and attend the training day

How much time does it take?

The programme is most effective when run during lesson time as a cross-curricular class project. Typically, schools spend around 10-20 hours on project-related activities but these might take place in literacy lessons (e.g writing a letter to their MP would support persuasive writing) or other subjects.

Lessons can take place every week over a period of time, or be delivered through drop-down days over a few weeks, perhaps as an after-SATs project. Some schools run the programme as an after-school club or with their School Council but it is important to ensure there is enough contact time with the group to develop an effective project.

How do children and schools benefit?

Independent evaluation of the project has shown it increases pupils' empathy, problem-solving and understanding of their community as well as helping them to develop a more positive outlook. Teachers report that less academic and harder-to-engage pupils particularly benefit from taking part as the project puts learning into a real-life context making it more meaningful for children. Many schools also find the project helps them to deepen relationships with parents and the wider community, supporting community cohesion.

"Children rarely have the opportunity to 'own' a project and make all the decisions." Participating teacher, 2019 Buckinghamshire Make a Difference Challenge

In October 2018 we were awarded the status of Impact Partner for Generation Change - a new certification scheme to recognise youth social action organisations that are deeply committed to learning about, and improving, their outcomes through a shared impact framework. To achieve the status, we had to complete a 12-month accelerator scheme that included independent validation by Dartington Service Design Lab.

How much does it cost?

Thanks to funding from the Co-op Foundation #iwill fund, the project can be offered to schools in the following wards for free: Hyde Park and Woodhouse, Gipton and Harehills, City and Hunslet, Burmantofts and Richmond Hill and Headingley. 

The programme includes:

    • a whole-day CPD certified training session for up to 3 teachers per school
    • an annual licence and resources to enable you to deliver the project in your school
    • a community space development grant of up to £250 per school
    • access to our online training course so teachers can revisit elements of the training day
    • places at a Celebration Event held in July where children showcase their achievements.

Sign-up to take part and attend the training day