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Year 8 students at St Mark’s School in Bath have been taking part in the First Give programme – a project that gives young people the tools and opportunity to look into a social issue they care about and carry out their own social action.

Each class worked in groups, selecting an issue, finding relevant charities, presenting to their peers and then finally planning and executing their action. All the work was done collaboratively and independently by the students with the support of staff whose role it was to facilitate. The students embraced the project with real enthusiasm, demonstrating their creativity, commitment and concern for others.

Many weeks of hard work culminated in the Grand Final, which was attended by parents, governors, staff, fellow students, representatives from the four charities and Mayor Gerry Curran who sat on the judging panel.

The four Year 8 classes were each represented by a smaller presenting group, who spoke articulately and passionately about their class charity and the social issue they work to address.

The project saw the students carrying out a series of fund-raising activities including car washing, cake sales and ‘soak the teacher’. Ultimately Off the Record was the winning charity, receiving £1000 following the students efforts.

Overall, an impressive amount of money had been raised, but more importantly, it was clear that students had raised the profile of their charities within the school and made valuable links to the wider community. The school has already developed further contact with the charities, with the aim of working with more in the future.

“It was wonderful to see our students stepping out in front of their audience, impassioned and informed about a subject that matters to them, advocating for change in our communities and beyond,” commented Barnaby Ash, the Headteacher at St Mark’s. “As a school, it is our role to empower our young people to make a difference. I’m confident this is just the first step of a much bigger journey.”