n May 2009, a teacher from James Hamilton Academy, Kilmarnock, approached the youth development co-ordinator at the Volunteer Centre East Ayrshire. They discussed establishing a partnership that would contribute to the Curriculum for Excellence by involving pupils in work with the wider community. As a result some pupils attempting a Higher in Personal Development were offered various project options.
One group decided they wanted to focus on technology for older adults. Supported by their teacher and the youth development co-ordinator, they did some research into the use being made of mobile phones, the internet, email, texting, etc. The next step was to recruit some older adults to tutor over a period of 12 weeks. The pupils devised and delivered weekly sessions on the various technologies and their uses – the Internet and holiday sites were very popular! Another session covered the use of mobile phones – particularly texting. For the penultimate meeting, the pupils designed a test. The older people all passed, and at the final session, they were presented with certificates of achievement by East Ayrshire Council.
- Preparation is key. A great deal of work went in to the project before the two groups came together.
- The atmosphere in the group was one of mutual support and of equal partnership. Age soon became an irrelevance.
The young people gained enormously in self-assurance. One of them said, “I have gained so much confidence from this project, and if it hadn’t been for my teacher, I would never have done it.” The older people learned a whole set of essential skills. They enjoyed it so much that they are keen to continue working with the school. One said, “Any other projects that you have, no matter what, count me in!”