Make A Difference Challenge
The Make a Difference Challenge is a child-led social action project for KS2 children. It provides pupils with an opportunity to identify and research a social or environmental issue that they feel passionate about, then make a difference through awareness raising, fundraising or taking practical action.
The project enables children to take the lead in making a positive difference to their communities and provides an excellent context for meaningful SMSC learning, literacy, numeracy and personal development.
Who can take part?
In 2018-2019, the Make a Difference Challenge is open to KS2 children at schools in the areas below. Please click the link to find out more about the project in your area:
- London (all boroughs)
- Northern Ireland
If the Make a Difference Challenge isn't currently running in your area, but your school would be interested in initiating a new project, please let us know:
In 2018, 44 schools and 1,744 pupils made a difference to causes they care about and raised over £3,000 for charitable organisations.
“Maths and English are important, but they’re important to a purpose, and if you can think of a purpose that’s more important than improving our global community, our national community and our local community I’d be struggling to beat you.”
Mick Waters, Former Director of Curriculum, QCA at Go-Givers fifth anniversary celebration
How does the project work?
The project usually takes place over the spring and summer term and involves the following stages:
Participating teachers attend a full day's training session to equip them with tools and activities to scaffold the project and facilitate children's learning.
- CHILDREN CHOOSE THEIR CAUSE
Back in school, teachers introduce the project and facilitate the decision-making process as children choose the cause or issue they wish to address.
- CHILDREN RESEARCH THEIR TOPIC
They gather views of the local community and identify the areas where they can contribute, making links with relevant organisations. The learning journey is documented in scrapbooks.
- CHILDREN TAKE ACTION TO 'MAKE A DIFFERENCE'
This could be by raising awareness, raising money or through practical action.
- CELEBRATION EVENT
Representatives from each school showcase their projects at an event to celebrate achievements.
“Before I started the project I felt selfish but now I feel more kind”
How much time will it take?
The project is most effective when run during lesson time as a cross-curricular, class project. Typically, schools spend around 10-20 hours on project related activities but these might take place in literacy lessons (e.g writing a letter to their MP would support persuasive writing) or other subjects.
Lessons can take place every week over a period of time, or be delivered through drop-down days over a few weeks, perhaps as an after-SATs project. Some schools run the project as an after-school club or with their School Council but it is important to ensure there is enough contact time with the group to develop an effective project.
How do schools and children benefit?
In Spring 2015 schools participating in the Make a Difference Challenge in Birmingham and Kent took part in a randomised control trial, run by the Cabinet Office, to assess the outcomes of the project.
The trial concluded that the Make a Difference Challenge was 'very effective in increasing empathy levels, problem-solving, grit, and community skills' as in each of these areas there were 'statistically significant differences' between the pupils who participated in the project and the control group.
Participating pupils were 'more adept in problem-solving than the control students. Additionally, those who participated in social action showed a level of grit that was significantly above that of the young people who did not participate. Similarly, the level of community investment amongst young people was considerably higher amongst participants than control students'.
The trial also concluded that 'those who take part in the programme have a more positive outlook; stating that things in life are worthwhile more often than their peers and also reported lower levels of anxiety (a decrease of 22%).' Read the full report here.
‘Having the chance to respond to an issue that is affecting lives in the community they live in, has been very empowering for the children. It goes to show that just because you are young it does not mean you can’t take action!’
In October 2018 we were awarded the status of Impact Partner for Generation Change - a new certification scheme to recognise youth social action organisations that are deeply committed to learning about, and improving, their outcomes through a shared impact framework. To achieve the status, we had to complete a 12-month accelerator scheme that included independent validation by Dartington Service Design Lab.