Hello Wales! A teacher’s perspective on First Give

The winning team at Bedwas High School at the School Final

“We can’t wait for next year...!”

You may have read that in this academic year First Give expanded into Wales – our first area outside of the South East! Located in the beautiful Welsh Valleys in Caerphilly is one of our first schools to complete the First Give programme– Bedwas High School.

Bedwas signed up to the programme because they recognised the opportunity to implement a fully prepared scheme of work into their mainstream English curriculum. In fact, the school actually used the students’ presentations as part of their English controlled assessment at KS4.

“We had a distinct impression it was written by teachers for teachers”

 

Teachers at Bedwas were particularly impressed with the quality of the resources provided by First Give – this meant teachers “snapped up First Give and the whole department was very keen.  It was easy to teach, too, which made it all the better.”

A key part of the programme is that students call and arrange to meet their charities. “We were pleased that the students were supported to step out of their comfort zone to articulate themselves over the phone and talk to charities. They then had to meet them – these are things you don’t usually do until you’re an adult!”

“We saw a very obvious improvement in our lower ability classes”

The First Give programme culminates in a School Final where £1,500 of charity grants are up for grabs. The finalist students pitch their professional 5 minute presentations in front of a panel of judges and a wider audience of parents and charities in the hope of winning a grant for their chosen charity.

Bedwas had several of their Governors on the judging panel, as well as their Headteacher and two student judges.  “Our Governors were very impressed with what they saw and how creative all the students had been. Even though they were working in teams, the Governors commented on how much each student had clearly put into the process.”

The standard of the students’ presentations were high. The winning team's video was a stop-start animation made using only a mobile phone and paper shapes – the quality of the film blew the judges away and pushed the team over the winning line.  Students representing Make A Wish won £1000, and £250 was won for both Cardiff Concern Counselling Service and Childline Cymru.

The final left the parents and Headteacher beaming with pride, and Bedwas have been quick to sign up to the programme for next year.

“We’re still celebrating”

Bedwas have been riding the wave of pride and celebration since the First Give final and are in the process of arranging a celebration for all the students that have taken part. One of the winning charities, Cardiff Concern, have taken it a step further and hosted their team for lunch where students met some of the charity’s volunteers. Furthermore, the school is going to support the charity with students helping them deliver in schools.

Caerphilly is one of the poorest boroughs in the UK with almost 1 in 5 children living in poverty so “opportunities like this are not frequent for our students, which makes First Give a very attractive opportunity.”

Lead teacher Jane Thompson commented: “First Give is an excellent opportunity to make education ‘live’. It gives students a real context, the real world, real problems and real solutions. And, it rallies the students up through the final competition – it truly is brilliant.”

First Give is continuing to expand in Wales next year and will be able to work with up to 50 schools. If you are interested in getting involved, email leon@firstgive.co.uk.