Bradford students deliver workshop day and plan community action for pandemic recovery

Students from five multi academy trusts across Bradford delivered a Workshop Day on issues that matter to them as part of pandemic recovery work in schools.

Following the Schools Pandemic Recovery Summit that took place in March 2021 young people created the Schools Pandemic Recovery Manifesto. Built upon the lived experience of our young people the Manifesto is a foundation for student voice across the city of Bradford; working together to make our city a place where all belong and will thrive.

As next steps for the Schools Pandemic Recovery Summit Manifesto work, students from BDAT, Dixons, Exceed and Beckfoot Trusts delivered issues workshops virtually via Zoom then identified and planned targeted action in 2022.

The workshops were on four issues: anti-racism, mental health, poverty and disadvantage and LGBTQ+, student voice. Each was led by students from one Trust and attended by students from others, including Carlton Bolling and Keighley. Over 20,000 students in Bradford are represented by this collective.

Young people from the workshops are supported by Citizens UK, the home of Community Organising, to work with civic influencers to make the changes they want to see.

Jim Lauder, Dixons Academies Trust, initiated the idea for the Schools Pandemic Recovery Summit to support student voice across Bradford after seeing the impact of the pandemic on our young people stated: “Our young people from schools across Bradford District came together to decide what they want to see change as we continue to rebuild. Their testimony was powerful and they have crafted an ambitious agenda. In addition to schools from Beckfoot, BDAT, Dixons and Exceed it was great to welcome the Carlton schools as our work grows. Decision makers in Bradford – our young people are keen to put their ideas to you and hear your response!”

Graham Brownlee, Community Organiser at Citizens UK, who works with the team of young people and staff from the schools on the Schools Pandemic Recovery Summit, stated: “Our work together shows the power of being organised, the strength of lived experiences and the impact of connecting these stories with practical change. Our young people demonstrated powerful leadership and informed passion, and we look forward to the response from key leaders in Bradford. It’s certainly made one thing clear – young people in Bradford communities are using their voices to create change, and our agenda for a better Bradford will continue to grow.”

Emma Sey, Deputy Headteacher at Immanuel College, a member of BDAT, added: “Working collaboratively with other Trusts gives our young people the opportunity to talk about current issues with their peers and the chance to bring about change as they talk about those issues on a wider platform.

“It was incredibly encouraging to see the level of engagement from all of the students. The issues that were raised don’t just affect young people, they affect us all, and we’re all looking forward to further chances to work together in the future.”

Misha Chand and James Spencer, both 16, are Immanuel College’s Head Girl and Boy and took part in the workshops, leading on the subject of mental health. James said: “Covid has been a tough time for everyone and it’s really important that we discuss how we can improve the support that is given to students. We’ve worked with Graham Brownlee from Citizen’s UK and he has helped us to develop our ideas. It’s been really useful.”

Misha added: “We’ve been looking at mental health and how we could provide solutions to any problems. As a group we have reached the solution that it would be better to have more mental health professionals, both in and out of school, to help students.”

Links have been formed with the Bradford Young in Covid 2 Team to share lived experience and action plans and work collaboratively to support action by and for young people of Bradford.