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Involving young people through co-production and widening participation approaches: Reflections from school-based engagement

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Co-production techniques that involve student voice have been shown to empower young people and shape their learning experiences, while widening participation approaches can improve students’ educational aspirations. However, there is limited literature on the impact that a combination of co-production and widening participation approaches might have on students’ learning, aspirations and self-esteem in the UK. The Research Methods in School Education (RISE) educational course aims to: (1) create a collaborative educational activity through co-production, giving young people an opportunity to voice their opinions; (2) raise awareness of community health issues; and (3) increase access to higher education. This paper describes and evaluates co-producing the RISE educational course with students and teachers from a sixth-form college in south-east London, drawing on students’ voice, and on insights from teachers and researchers. We also assess the contribution of the course to improved awareness of community health issues, students’ educational or career aspirations, and self-esteem.

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