Influencers have their say on education in Cardiff


A group of young people were given a glimpse into the future of education in Cardiff – and a chance to put their own stamp on what it could look like.

The Cardiff Young Influencers are a group of 18 young people aged 13 and 14 who have volunteered to attend a five-day summer school on planning school organization at County Hall.

The program is designed to give young people a platform and opportunity to give their opinion on key decisions around school organization and investment strategy and how the authority will invest millions of pounds in schools of Cardiff over the next 10 years.

During the programme, influencers, from all parts of the city and a mix of English and Welsh community and faith-based schools, took part in a series of team-building exercises, examined the factors involved in planning decisions, took part in an interview workshop, looked at current and progressive approaches to education and visited some of the city’s iconic sites, including the BBC’s new studios and Cardiff City FC.

One of the highlights was visiting the new Fitzalan School being built by Kier near Cardiff City Stadium. Here they saw how modern schools are constructed in often radically different ways as educational practices are implemented and changes in society evolve.

Over the weekend, Influencers put everything they had learned into practice in a series of interviews with Cllr Sarah Merry, Deputy Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Education.

“For the team that organized the week, it was a very successful and enjoyable exercise,” said Michele Duddridge-Friedl, who designed and led the program. “We explored many different approaches to education and it made us realize how important digital learning is to these students, how they would like more freedom and what they will learn and how they will learn in the future.

“Influencers were clear about the importance of schools as places to interact with peers and that learning does not begin or end at the school gates. They shared their desire to benefit from a wider range of experiences inside and outside of school, as well as a call to seize more of the opportunities offered by digital and virtual learning in the part of a broad educational program that reflects the number of industries that have embraced the technology and the rapid progress made during the pandemic.

“It was particularly revealing at the Fitzalan construction site, where they were able to see how new approaches to education are shaping the way schools are built and how the modern digital approaches adopted by the BBC in its new facilities have were designed to address how people interact with visual content – they could see how technological advances applied in different contexts have the potential to be transferable to how we might learn in the future.

They also explored the opportunities made possible by the internet, with one Influencer suggesting thinking about the potential for enabling students to learn at their own pace and develop their own interests through the use of algorithms.

She was encouraged by the fact that most of the participants of the summer school wanted to engage in the program in the future, first with another meeting in September and then by giving their opinion on the proposals in directly relating to education presented to the Cabinet du Conseil.

“It was encouraging to hear that influencers know that as adults working to bring about change, we really want to give them a voice and listen to their views on the evolution of our infrastructure and our educational services,” she said.

One of the influencers, Isra Zaman, 13, from Grangetown, said: “I learned a lot this week and it was fun too. I could have been bored at home, but here I made new friends, I learned so much about our schools now and how much effort and money it takes to change them. I had many different experiences, including a boat ride in the bay, and saw things in a different way.

Her friend, Ila Carroll, also 13, from Grangetown, said she realized during the week that schools needed to be used more outside the working day. ‘We believe the council should let the community use the schools to play sports, learn languages ​​and use the facilities all year round,’ she added.

Tyrese Attard, 13, from Cathays, said he couldn’t wait for more opportunities to raise his voice. “It was really fun,” he added, “and a good experience. I love how we were taken seriously and were able to influence the future of education in Cardiff.

Cllr Merry praised the youngsters for their enthusiasm and commitment to the program, and they challenged her during the interviews. “I found them really stimulating as I was asked a wide range of questions. The students were really passionate about how education can help tackle inequality and wanted to understand what motivated me.

“My parents left school when they were 14 and 15 and it marked them throughout their lives in different ways. That’s why I want every young person to get the best education but also to know that ‘there are always opportunities to learn even after leaving formal education.

“We also need to recognize all the obstacles students have to overcome outside of school as well if we want them to achieve all they can.

“It also came out how keen they are to expand access to all the facilities that our new schools in particular have to offer.”

“The Cardiff Influencers program is just one of the ways Cardiff Council works to ensure that every child and young person has their voices, needs and priorities heard by developing their skills, encouraging them and empowering them. supporting them to get involved in shaping the city and making sure people take their views seriously.

“Ensuring that there is a wide range of opportunities for young people to engage in key decisions that affect them is essential if we are to provide services that truly reflect their needs and aspirations and is essential for the council becomes an internationally recognized child. Friendly city.

“I look forward to working with them and their peers on how we get things done.”

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