Australia’s education system lacks inclusivity and sensitivity to the needs of students, hindering the success of young people when transitioning from school to further education, training, or employment. A problem exists in Australia with equitable access to quality education and there is a disparity in opportunities afforded to students depending on their socioeconomic background. Additionally, the dominance of academic recognition systems such as the ATAR disadvantages some young people in demonstrating their capabilities, thereby limiting their post-school pathways. Young people’s knowledge, skills and abilities can go unrecognised, leading to a lack of agency in their education.
These problems underscored the need for a new approach to education that values and formally recognises students' unique talents, skills, and capabilities to provide them with better prospects for meaningful employment.
In 2021 we partnered with Learning Creates and the Impact Assembly at PWC to recruit, train and embed a cohort of 19 young people between the ages of 15–21 years to co-design solutions and test prototypes. The prototypes produced addressed the issue of a lack of recognition of young people’s knowledge and skills in education settings. Acting as agents on the ground, this cohort of young people (Community Associates) gathered data from their peers and tested prototypes in their schools across Australia.
The Community Associates were trained in facilitation and co-design methodologies and were involved in weekly co-working sessions to plan and build prototypes based on the needs of their peers. In addition to the Community Associates, we engaged over 1000 young people through surveys, focus groups, workshops, and interviews.
By using their lived experience of the education system, young people were given a voice that shaped the project directly. YLab provided a platform for young people to be involved in systems change, empowering them to shape their own learning experiences.
Being the first time YLab hired Associates under 18, we encountered many learnings. We needed to remain agile in our approach and opted for tailored and responsive training. In addition to this, relationship building and regular feedback sessions allowed us to learn from each other and continuously improve everyone’s experience of the program. The Community Associates were able to be involved in ways that suited them, contrary to the experience of many in the education system.
Many Associates from the project are still active at YLab, broadening our scope to capture the unique lived experience of this younger cohort in projects beyond Learning Creates.
Watch the video interview with Lorraine about the project here:
We brought together a team of Associates and a Director, who came together to design with a background of diverse lived experience and expertise.
with Marta Malchevski, Star Wanyama, Billie Gay, Bailey Bowden, Bailey Falls, Kayla Muehlberg, Lillyane McKnight, Kalani West, Montana Slater Voss, Tarsha Daly, Nicayla Storozuk.