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Findings and recommendations

Schools and colleges are committed to doing the best for the young people they teach.

The ‘What about us?’ project gave each school and college a small amount of money to help them with the project work. The schools and colleges used their money in very different ways.

Some sites used the money to pay staff to do extra work to support the project. One of the schools used their project money to pay for a teaching assistant to support two young people in the project to have extra work experience. One college used the project money to enable a part-time tutor to work some extra hours with her project group.

In some sites, the project money allowed staff to have some extra time, away from teaching or other aspects of their jobs, to meet with colleagues to plan and support project developments. In other places the adults found it very hard to cover their work because it was difficult to find someone experienced enough to do their teaching.

So these schools and colleges used their project money in different and creative ways to make things better for their young people. Some sites used project money to pay to have student work produced or displayed professionally. Other sites used the money to buy equipment, like camcorders, to make records of their ideas and progress. The schools and colleges also used project money to pay for ‘treats’ to reward the young people for their hard work on the project – like having nice refreshments with visitors on an open day or going on the ‘London Eye’ when we met up for our review day in London.

Everyone involved in the ‘What about us?’ project was very generous in giving their time and efforts. The adults helped to make sure that the young people took part and that their action research projects were a great success. These projects led to some exciting and unexpected changes and improvements. But these things would not have happened without the crucial and valuable involvement of all the young people who worked with us. We could not have done the ‘What about us?’ project without these young people – or the staff who supported them and us.

We suggest:

  • The schools and colleges who worked with the ‘What about us?’ project showed that involving young people with learning difficulties, disabilities and/or special educational needs can be very productive
  • All schools and colleges should work to involve young people with learning difficulties, disabilities and/or special educational needs more fully in all aspects of school or college life.
  1. University of Cambridge
  2. Big Lottery Fund
  3. Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities
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