Help me to deliver a meaningful impact.

Keeping disadvantaged pupils stimulated and inspired with an online summer programme.

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Hi everyone, my name is Giammarco. I became a Laidlaw Scholar in March 2020, in the hope to grasp any opportunity to give my contribution to helping children and young people at risk to prosper, unlock their full potential and ultimately allow them to contribute to the world. I am currently working on a research project aimed to provide further insight into the relationship between identities, role models, and school attachment among looked after children. In doing so, the findings of this study may highlight predictors of the academic underachievement observed within this particularly vulnerable group of children and, therefore, provide a valuable empirical framework to design future interventions aimed to reduce the achievement gap between looked after children and children in the general population. Everything is nearly ready: the next step will be to use my long Word document to fill in all the necessary bits in the online form of my ethics application. Great! 

Since everything is nearly ready, I could start using my spare time to do more. An email from the Laidlaw Schools Trust said that many of our disadvantaged pupils have parents who will not be in a position to help them with their learning during this summer 2020. And the idea of being of use and making a real difference felt extraordinary to me. Therefore, with the priceless support of the staff from the Atkinson Road Primary Academy, I have created a project aimed to deliver a summer programme with Italian lessons and activities aimed to keep pupils stimulated and involved in school-related experiences over the summer break. In an attempt to broaden my impact, I have also prepared an advert to be shared with the other five academies belonging to the Laidlaw Schools Trust network. And last Wednesday I published our first lesson, which introduces the Italian alphabet employing some funny activities and exercises to do both during the lesson and at home. I named the project Learn Italiano with Mentor G.’ and I set up a YouTube channel as being designed exclusively for children and young people so that it could be safe for them: advertisements, comments, and stories are deactivated. 

I have heard that the pupils really enjoyed the lesson and the activities, especially the 'Learning by Drawing' activity: their teachers sent me a few pictures that pupils drew for me. I smiled. I felt like I was doing the right thing, at the right time, and in the right place. I am now recording the next lesson, which will be published on Wednesday 8th July (stay tuned!!). At the moment, my limited IT knowledge allows me to produce only one video per week, but as I will grow in skills, getting quicker with it, I would like to increase the number of lessons. The positive feedback from the pupils and the warm feelings coming with it encouraged me to do more: "How can I make a larger impact?’" I started thinking about ways to link up with programmes that could have shared the lessons with the pupils I wanted to reach. I did some research (thanks Laura!) and I have found out about the Government’s Holiday Activities & Food Programme and the ten co-ordinators receiving a share of £9 million across 17 local authorities:

  1. StreetGames (Newcastle, North East region)
  2. Gateshead Council (Gateshead - North East region)
  3. Edsential (Cheshire West and Chester, Halton, Wirral - North West region)
  4. Spring North (Blackburn with Darwen - North West)
  5. Leeds Community Foundation (Leeds and Bradford - Yorkshire & the Humber region)
  6. Voluntary Action Sheffield (Sheffield - Yorkshire & the Humber region)
  7. Suffolk County Council (Suffolk - East of England region)
  8. Mayor’s Fund for London (Lambeth and Southwark - London)
  9. Tower Hamlets Local Authority (Tower Hamlets - London)
  10. The Romsey School (Hampshire, Southampton, Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight - South East region)

Each of these co-ordinators offers a summer programme designed to combat holiday hunger, social isolation and inactivity among children entitled to free school meals and those belonging to other vulnerable groups. Wonderful! I knew that what I was looking at were the gatekeepers that would have allowed me to support the children and young people I wanted to reach with this summer programme. So, I have carefully drafted an email and sent it to all of them. That same day two of them replied, and I am now waiting for their project managers to get in touch and to tell me if they are interested in working together. I will be looking forward to hearing from them and keeping you all updated. In the meantime, if you would like to have a look, here is the YouTube channel I have been talking about.

This summer project needs a Team full of harmony with enthusiastic and passionate scholars like you and me. It would be great if we could expand the programme with a variety of different subjects, which means that you do not need to speak Italian in order to be able to help. Virtually anyone, from any discipline and from anywhere in the world, could contribute to this programme. I would be happy to change the project's name to accommodate any changes we may make. If you would like to get involved and help me to deliver a meaningful impact, if you would like to expand the programme and broaden our reach beyond the UK, if you have any questions, or if you just want to chat about it, please drop me a line at giammarco.di-gregorio@durham.ac.uk :) 

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Take care,

Mentor G.


Go to the profile of Giammarco (he/him)

Giammarco (he/him)

Student, Durham University

I think that happiness is about being committed to something that helps and supports others, and this is why I am so fascinated by research and leadership. They give us the opportunity and responsibility to support and protect our people, especially the most vulnerable. I began my journey in children's homes back in Rome, in Italy. Since then I have been volunteering with children and young people trying to facilitate resilience and recovery from early adversities as my main focus point. My Laidlaw Scholarship research project is all about our social identities and the way they interact with our possible selves to drive our self-control and school attachment. The ultimate aim is to be able to design, implement, and evaluate an effective intervention to enhance the academic achievements of children growing up in alternative care, and conclusively reduce the achievement gap between them and other children. If you have any questions about my project, if you think that your research and mine somehow overlap or are committed to solving similar issues through different disciplines, or if you just want to chat, please drop me a line at giammarco.di-gregorio@durham.ac.uk! :)

4 Comments

Go to the profile of Jude Hanlon (he/him)
Jude Hanlon (he/him) about 1 month ago

AMAZING G, well done! This is great work. I'll be sharing your lessons with the young people I know. 

Go to the profile of Giammarco (he/him)
Giammarco (he/him) about 1 month ago

Hey Jude, thanks so much for this. Please do, and feel free to let me know if they enjoyed it :) 

Go to the profile of Lorenzo Molinari (he/him)
Lorenzo Molinari (he/him) about 1 month ago

Ciao Giammarco, this is such a good initiative, well done!

Although I won't have enough time to commit to this initiative, I am very happy to help you in some capacity. If you need a 'sounding board' to discuss ideas with, feel free to reach out :) 

Go to the profile of Giammarco (he/him)
Giammarco (he/him) about 1 month ago

Ciao Lorenzo, thanks so much for reaching out and considering to help. It would be wonderful having you on board to discuss ideas together. I will be sending you an email shortly :)