Celebrating the teachers behind the Achieve Programme for World Teachers’ Day
In celebration of World Teachers’ Day, we spoke with some of the inspirational teachers from The Prince’s Trust Achieve programme to hear about how the programme benefits young people across the globe.
Covid-19 has disrupted education delivery throughout the world. Teachers have had to adapt, and this has been no different for our Achieve programme. The situation has been especially difficult in low-and-middle-income countries where access to equipment is a real challenge for many. We want to extend our thanks to all the teachers going above and beyond during this time, continuing to deliver education with passion, commitment, and impact.
The Achieve programme, delivered by The Prince’s Trust group of charities and valued local partners, aims to equip young people with the necessary skills to succeed in education and employment, empowering them to achieve a better future. It works primarily with young people between the ages of 11 and 19 who may be disengaged or underachieving to develop self-esteem, confidence and transferable skills through relevant, engaging, informal and experiential learning.
The programme has been adapted around the world to meet local context and need. In Australia, the programme has developed into a flagship two-day immersive online festival, Achieve Fest, held quarterly throughout the year. In other countries, the programme works with schools to form Achieve Clubs. The purpose of the Achieve Club is to provide a friendly environment where young people receive timely learning support to enable them to achieve their potential. These iterations of the Achieve programme are now present in 8 countries, including the UK, Malta, Jamaica, Ghana and Australia.
For Stacey-Ann Newman, a teacher in Jamaica, the focus on soft skills is what sets the Achieve programme apart. Stacey’s hope is for young people “to feel good about who they are and how they can contribute to whatever space or place they occupy. If a child feels good about themselves, then they will want to achieve success in the classroom and beyond.” Jim Gillies, a teacher on the Achieve programme in Australia, also said that the programme encourages young people to “take control of their learning” and helps them to work at “their own pace and work out what tools they need to support their projects”.
In the UK, The Prince’s Trust first delivered a programme which was the basis of what we now consider Achieve in 1998. For many years, Claire McGarvey has run Achieve programmes in the UK where a number of young people have now benefited from support at schools in Stockton-on-Tees and Cleveland, Yorkshire. Claire says that the programme “really meets the needs of young people.” If young people don’t know what to do, they can speak to Claire “about career development and work experience… a lot of what we do is helping them to be professional. I always say that I’ve done my job when I get a reference request for a young person. It means the young person is where I want them to be”.
In recent years, the Achieve programme has become truly global, spanning from the Caribbean to Asia. Most recently, the programme moved into sub-Saharan Africa where a “Skills for School” module is delivered in Ghana, covering a range of skills such as managing feelings, reliability and setting goals.
Frederick Annan-Rexfred is a teacher at a school in Accra, Ghana. Here, the Achieve programme takes place after school where “the activities are more practical and engaging, unlike the regular school curriculum and timetable where there’s more theoretical delivery of lessons”.
Commenting on young people’s development, Frederick said that “some shy students in our school have regained their confidence; others are gaining their balance in effective communication while some others are managing their temper. At the end of the first cohort, one manager of a children’s home called and congratulated the Achieve Club for the impact of the programme on the children in the home. The impact of Achieve has been so tremendous and overwhelming!”
Graziella Erkayasi, an educator in Malta, echoed this sentiment. In Graziella’s previous school, the young people spoke either Maltese or Arabic – except for one young British man who used to feel left out and lonely. Over the course of the programme, Graziella saw “a change in him as he started opening up and reflecting on what he was doing wrong and on his attitude towards the others”.
Since leaving formal schooling, the young man told Graziella that the Achieve programme had helped his personal development and future employability. The change Graziella witnessed in this young man was “thanks to this programme – it was truly life changing for this young person”.
Witnessing a young person’s development first-hand is one of the many reasons these teachers love what they do. As Teacher Aishu in Malaysia puts it, “what I love the most about my job is that I get to wake up every day working on something that I find truly meaningful and impactful”.
In one of the most turbulent years in living memory, together we recognise the dedication and passion of educators around the world. #WorldTeachersDay