YSLs in the primary setting
One tutor assessor was interviewed, and two primary school children took part in a focus group in May 2020. In terms of the school’s motivation for taking part in the pilot, the TA noted the flexibility of YSL and valued how the programme ‘fitted into the curriculum’. Recruitment of young people to the pilot took place via self-selection, as the TA ‘didn’t want to have it closed off to anybody.’ Recruited YSLs included previously ‘completely disengaged’ children, who embraced the opportunity and became passionate about their projects. All recruited YSLs were in upper primary, and they worked with the whole school on several projects ranging from science fairs to digital newsletters.
Developing leadership skills was highlighted by the TA as an important outcome of the pilot. Attitudes towards STEM were said to improve, as young people expanded their notion of STEM to include areas they were interested in, such as animation and film clubs. YSLs’ understanding of scientific concepts was said to be developed through teaching and mentoring others. According to the TA, there was an initial perception amongst children in the school that the YSL programme was probably for ‘geeks’; however, this seemed to change after attending the ‘fun’ science fair. The TA acknowledged that the YSLs were very boy-heavy, speculating that this was due to confidence issues with the girls in the upper primary.
It is known that career aspirations can become realised through a process of ‘elaboration’, which includes reflection on careers and understanding of pathways. Children regularly reflected on their experiences and their feelings about STEM formally, both within their logbooks, and informally through classroom conversation.
The TA highlighted a potential development area. Career pathways were well explored within the school but, the TA wondered whether more emphasis could be placed on the process within the logbooks towards the end of the process.