The RAP Project

The RAP Project (Respect and Protect)
For Young People not in Mainstream Secondary Education.

This material for this project again draws on the experiences of young people. This time the peer educators have themselves experienced seriously disrupted education and life in institutions outside mainstream education. The researcher team on this project includes Fiona Macbeth, Sandy Akerman of Headbangers Theatre Co. and David Evans, with expert advice and guidance from Dr Alice Welbourne and Dr Sue Jennings.

Key themes in the areas of sexual and relational health which threaten to keep at risk young people in a state of permanent social exclusion are explored by the team of peer educators. Drama based techniques alongside Participatory Learning Approaches are used to develop a series of scripted scenes, exercises and interactive theatre experiences. As the material is developed, so are the social and performance skills of the peer educators.

Through a series of pilots in such institutions as Pupil Referral Units, School Inclusion Units and Young Mums Units the team has successfully compiled a series of six sessions run by peer educators each lasting around an hour and a half.

The obvious challenge is one of keeping disaffected young people sufficiently engaged in a learning experience to begin to have a chance of influencing their attitudes, knowledge, beliefs and behaviour. The use of peer educators who, although slightly older than the young people in the units, have themselves experienced varying degrees of social exclusion appears to be a key component of success. Dramatic scenes, to which the learners can relate, hold their attention sufficiently to begin to establish real engagement. This in turn encourages creative discourses. A series of five or six visits would appear to be the minimum requirement for establishing worthwhile relationships and trust.

The project has proved extremely popular with students in the units and with staff from the institutions with all participating units requesting return visits and asking for more material.

Currently we are negotiating the commissioning of a further twelve sessions in addition to the initial six.

The long term aim of this project is to make materials and processes widely available so that appropriately trained workers in the field can establish their own peer-led programme both drawing from and contributing to the growing body of good practice established by RAP.