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Dixons Academies Trust

Empowering our young people with Citizens UK

Posted on 22nd September 2022

By Jim Lauder, Assistant Vice Principal, Dixons Trinity Academy and Trust Lead for Civic Responsibility

At Dixons, our mission is to challenge educational and social disadvantage in the North. One of the ways we have been working towards this in the last year is through a collaboration with Citizens UK to empower our young people and ensure they have a voice in local decision making. Through the process of building relationships and interacting with decision makers, we have been supporting our students to also build their cultural capital.

We have done this successfully in Bradford, where we are building a Bradford Citizens alliance with other academy trusts to advance the interests of young people in the city. However, our Leeds and Liverpool schools have also joined their local Citizens UK chapters so this work is occurring across the trust.

Citizens UK builds alliances of schools, faith, and community groups. It trains people to effectively listen to the needs of others in their institutions, develop what’s been shared into concrete policy ‘asks’, and put them to the people in power.

How our young people got involved

Students from Dixons schools played a leading role in following up our successful pandemic recovery summit. They refined big picture problems that young people care about into specific asks for decision makers.

The students met with the leader of Bradford Council, the deputy mayor for police and crime, the chief executive of the local NHS trust, the Bishop of Bradford, and a senior executive at Morrisons. All were supportive, but in particular the students won concrete commitments to involve young people in the work of diversifying West Yorkshire police, and in providing better mental health services for young people in Bradford.

At the end of Cycle 3, students from across Bradford held an event with Tracy Brabin, the mayor of West Yorkshire, who committed to have young people from Bradford Citizens involved in her policy making committees.

Dixons students then presented to 300 local and national policymakers at the Alliance for Life Chances Conference in Salts Mill, after which they were asked by the leader of the Council’s office to input directly into decisions that affect young people.

In a relatively short space of time, Dixons students have created a new norm in West Yorkshire – there should be no decision about young people, without young people.

This year, we want more of the same.

Our next steps

We are currently running a listening campaign across Bradford schools, so that every young person in the district has the opportunity to put forward their ideas about what they would like to see change.

At the end of Cycle 1, we will hold a new listening summit that brings these voices together. This time primary schools will be involved, too.

At Dixons, this work is led by our first student-led cross cutting team, The Bradford Citizens CCt, who will lead this process in our schools.

If you would like to know more or be a part of this work, please get in touch with Jim Lauder: jlauder@dixonsat.com