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ReWired Project

ReWired Survey - Executive Summary

Youth voice activity’ refers to any activity that empowers young people to:

  • Have their thoughts, opinions and ideas heard, valued and acted upon
  • Shape, lead and produce their own activities
  • Be involved at a governance level of organisations and be part of decision making

Youth voice in music education settings is relatively unexplored and little discussed nationally. With this in mind, we launched the ReWired national survey in February 2015 to gather information about existing youth voice activities in music education across England for the first time. This survey collected well informed and detailed responses from a total of 22 organisations.

Over 90% of the individuals who completed the survey on behalf of these organisations described themselves primarily as Project Managers / Coordinators, with others also describing themselves as Workshop Leaders, Youth Workers and Music Specialists. Over half of these organisations are based in a city setting, whilst 18% are based in towns, 18% in suburban areas and the remaining are based in rural settings. This tells us that a national group might help to involve organisations based in more rural settings that aren’t already engaging in youth participation.

Executive summary - surveyed regions breakdown

41% of the youth voice activity that we have information from are based in London. It is unsurprising that London is the highest area of activity given the general concentration of arts organisations and partnerships taking place. The only region that we didn’t have representation from in the survey was East of England. From the 22 organisations who have responded, we can estimate that the amount of young people engaged in youth voice activity within these could range between a minimum of 4,900 to 5,500 plus.

The age range of young people engaged in current youth voice activity appears to sit quite heavily within the bracket of 12 and 25, with 64% of survey participants stating that 12-15 is the lower age range of young people they work with and 21-25 is the upper. This is encouragingly broad.

The survey asked organisations to give information about the types of youth voice activity they include in their offer. We have split these into the following categories:

  • Peer Leadership (e.g. youth led music-making, peer learning/mentoring)
  • Young Producer (e.g. young people programming and producing their own
    events)
  • Youth Enterprise (e.g. young people creating their own entrepreneurial projects)
  • Youth Consultation (e.g. young people engaging with organisations in decision-making)
  • Youth Voice (e.g. panel discussions, debates, focus groups,
    campaigning/advocacy)
  • Governance (e.g. young people consulting with policy-makers, young trustees, young people on boards and committees of organisations)

Activities on offer

As can be seen from the results, the majority of organisations are offering peer leadership activity within their work, most notably in the form of young leadership programmes offering young people the chance to lead their own ensembles and take.

ownership of them. Generally, respondents have a greater focus on these type of time- limited activities that fall under peer leadership and young producer programmes. Organisations appear to be less engaged with youth voice, youth consultation and youth governance, which are ultimately forms of youth participation that are embedded within an organisation’s ethos as opposed to a separate ‘doing’ activity. It is interesting to note that those who placed themselves high on Hart’s ladder at rung 7/8 are embracing these ethos based participation categories within their work. 50% of respondents stated that they were familiar with Hart’s ladder, with a further 36% stating that they were somewhat aware of it. Generally, of these responses, those who have stated that they’re aware of the ladder have placed themselves higher on its rungs. This is interesting when considering the benefits of using an assessment tool such as this in your work. One response stated:

“I think it (Hart’s ladder) helps people to think about where they are at and where they want to be…and maybe there are different levels their different projects can sit on.”

This means the ladder can be used not only for measuring the strength of youth voice in activity but also as a tool for progression.

When asked what they feel are the most important elements of a project for young people, responses point strongly towards the following key themes: freedom for young people to make decisions, valuing young people’s ideas, opportunities for personal and musical growth, empowerment and ownership and ensuring equality and support for all. This is overwhelmingly positive and an encouraging step forwards in advocating for a national youth voice.

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