London Screen Academy has been partnered up with the Student-Led Project UCL Sexpression. Find out about this collaboration from Kim, as she shares the school's experience and talks about the volunteers' work in delivering sessions with topics on sex, consent, and relationships.
Can you briefly describe the activities that your students were involved in?
I work at the London Screen Academy, which is a film school in Highbury and Islington, and we have a PSHE program that consists of three units: we have “Health and well-being”, the second unit being “Relationships” and the third being “Living in the wider world”. Now within the relationships unit, we were looking for some outlets and people that could come in and talk to the students about relationships and consent. Luckily, Sexpression had sent an e-mail to our enquiries box and of course, I latched onto that.
I thought – yes, this is a great opportunity! Young people providing a service for us.
So I got in touch as soon as I could and the response was really welcoming, quite professional, very nice people. They explained very clearly from the start that they work with UCL volunteers, with a charity called Sexpression, that they have a code of conduct, which I had to fill out a form for and make sure safeguarding was in place.
Then we arranged dates and each time everyone came and presented to the students. We did 4 to 6 sessions, so we could get all of the year groups, normally on a Friday morning. So each morning about four volunteers would come and run two sessions parallel between 9:25 and 10:30am. They did assembly style and some interaction and interactive games as well, which was quite fun.
The topics they talked about included sex and consent: what is consent, the power dynamics in sex, gaining consent, you can say no, sexual harassment, and being an active bystander. I think we went into relationships and abuse as well, so different relationship types and similar topics.
What impact did these Student-Led Projects have on the students?
Along with our programme where they have PSHE sessions run by their tutors in class, it was a nice step away – like a little drop-down morning, not on the timetable, and it was good for them to see someone closer to their age talking about these things. They were engaged, they were listening, they had questions after, and they completed the feedback. The volunteers were quite open and encouraged the students to go and talk to them after and ask some questions, and a few of them did!
It made an impact because the volunteers were someone they could relate to and therefore they would listen more with an eager ear and think “I can relate to the students that are in front of me”.
So it was very impactful because the students learnt a lot from it and they weren't scared to ask questions afterwards. They weren't afraid to express themselves, which is really, really good.
It's a service that we want to use again if it's running again next year. So yes, it made a huge impact on the students, they were all grateful and really enjoyed it. I could see their faces; they were definitely listening.
Why did your organisation decide to host one of our Student-Led Projects?
As mentioned, sometimes it's more impactful if they have students coming, so they would have a little bit more relation and connection to them and want to listen a bit more eagerly. So that was one of the main things, having people that they could relate to, people they may find not as boring, more interesting.
Our students are 16 to 19, some even 20-21. So they are pretty much almost going to university and are very close in age with the volunteers… they're about to go into their seats really.
Also, with the students they did some interactive games and things that they could take part in actively. Some of it will be presentation based but they also talk and interact with them. They had some really good resources. They use Kahoot and other props and resources to have them going from one side of the room to the next, for example, and getting them actively involved.
So we wanted to use a student-led project because we know it would be more… impactful. They would be more keen, more interested, more engaged. That's why we thought, let's go with the student-led project.
What advice would you give to another organisation considering whether to host one of our Student-Led Projects?
I'd say go ahead. It's a good idea, it’s a good experience and development for students, as well as those that they are presenting to, or running the project for. Whatever they may be doing, it's beneficial because it's coming from young people, “for the young people, by the young people” is always a good look. It is our future generation and it's good to encourage them and help them grow, develop, and become our future global citizens. So yes, I would always advise to get involved, let them develop and make ties and networks.
As I said, they are professional, I would love to work with Sexpression UCL volunteers again, and student-led projects coming up, you know, keep the liaison going.
If your school or organisation is interested in partnering with one of our Student-Led Projects? Find out more information here!