Innovative Practice - All in a good cause

15th February 2013 at 00:00
A competition is helping to ignite youngsters' interest in charitable giving and philanthropy

The background

Under-30s are the age group least likely to give time or money to charity, according to research carried out by the Charities Aid Foundation.

Against this backdrop, the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative (YPI) aims to give secondary school pupils their first opportunity to support the work of charities, through a Dragons' Den-style competition.

The scheme has been running since 2006 and now operates in more than 170 schools in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Work is carried out in curriculum time, with the YPI providing resources to structure the programme.

The project

Lampton School in Hounslow held a YPI pilot and has now been running the programme for six years. The school involves its entire body of Year 10 pupils, and runs the scheme through citizenship classes across half a term.

Working in groups, pupils research social issues, then find and meet local charities that are tackling an issue they have picked.

Juliette Heppell, Lampton's head of citizenship, says that pupils initially tend to choose something affecting young people before realising that there are others in their local area they would like to help. Causes selected last year included a children's hospice and an old people's activity centre. Pupils also worked on issues ranging from homelessness to mental health problems.

Pupils have responsibility for organising their own trips and are not accompanied by teachers on these visits. The school then helps pupils to work on their presentation skills, with each group delivering a presentation to persuade their peers that their charity is the one that deserves to be promoted. Winners in each class go through to the final where the victorious team receives a #163;3,000 donation from YPI to give to their chosen charity.

For those who get into the final, presentations count towards the speaking and listening element of their English grades. The final is attended by parents, local politicians and representatives from businesses and charities in the local area.

Tips from the scheme

Afford pupils the autonomy to define whom they wish to help in their community and how. If they make the key decisions they will feel more ownership.

Ensure that the pupils make the initial contact with their chosen charities, even if this seems less straightforward than doing it yourself. Help them to prepare for the first phone call.

Don't fear what the young people will do when given the freedom to experience the outside world. Trust that the boundaries have been set within school and that young people have the maturity to deal with the situations and issues they encounter.

Make the final feel special. Host it in the evening to add to the atmosphere.

Evidence that it works?

One marker of the scheme's success is the number of teachers who repeatedly put forward groups to take part. At Lampton School, teachers have noticed increased confidence and improved life skills among pupils who have participated. A number of pupils have chosen to continue their involvement with their chosen charity once the scheme has ended.

In an independent evaluation of the YPI scheme in 2012, about 90 per cent of teachers said their pupils' teamwork and presentation skills had improved.


Approach: Interesting pupils in charities and philanthropy by running a competition for all Year 9 or 10 pupils

Started: 2006, in the UK

Founder: Youth and Philanthropy Initiative:


Name: Lampton School

Location: Hounslow, West London

Number of pupils: 1,423

Age range: 11-18

Intake: A non-selective academy where three-quarters of pupils speak English as an additional language and a higher than average number of pupils are eligible for free school meals

Overall Ofsted rating: Outstanding (2008).

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