YSLs in the community setting
One tutor assessor was interviewed, and two children took part in a focus group in June 2020. This community project was girls-only, with ages ranging from 10 – 17. Most of the young people in the project were from areas of multiple deprivation, without access to digital technology at home. Their YSLP project was focused on mentoring brownies and guides to obtain technology-based badges. Recruitment of YSLs was through self-selection and was an ongoing process.
The TA and the YSLs described a core aim of their project to be increasing the STEM workforce, especially in relation to women. All talked about female ‘empowerment’, with one young leader articulating what she meant by female empowerment, ‘They make you feel like you can do it, like, just because you are a girl doesn’t mean you can’t try and follow your dreams and do what you want to do.’ According to the TA, becoming experts in an area of technology and teaching others was good for developing confidence and leadership skills. One young leader was aware of the impact of this opportunity to motivate and inspire others, ‘They’ll be inspired that you can do this and they might go on and do it’.
One area that both TA and YSLs discussed was that the YSLs were often younger than the participants. Being so young gave them a high sense of achievement and pride. The YSLs joined the club for the ‘social’ aspects but were pleasantly surprised by the way it had affected their understanding of technology and group skills.
The TA identified an area of development for the programme. Although reflection was built into the programme in an informal way through regular discussion, the academic language within the logbooks was seen as a barrier. The TA noted that increased but alternative opportunities for reflection in the programme would be helpful. They also highlighted the explicit link to SQA Highers as a possible barrier in the community setting. Although this could attract some young people, it could cause less traditionally academic students to dismiss it as a possibility.