Calling all Educators!

15th November 2012 by

Do you care about social justice? The environment? Young people having a voice and taking positive action for a fairer world? 

You can bring something new to your school, youth club or Prince’s Trust group by inviting the Otesha team to work with your students. Otesha has worked with groups in London for over three years facilitating young people to set up their own active citizenship projects.

Active citizenship projects, what does that mean?

Otesha’s active citizenship project model helps young people to set up their own projects to create change in their communities and the wider world.  The key thing is that the groups we work with decide what matters to them, and design a project that they’re passionate about.  We’ve found that when young people get to choose their project for themselves, they are more committed to it, and their project is more successful.

What sort of things do young people do?

Young people’s projects have ranged from going for Fairtrade status for their school to planting trees and vegetables in community spaces to doing energy audits to see where energy could be saved, and so reducing the school’s carbon footprint! If there’s already a group who want to work on something specific, we can facilitate the group to design a great project. Alternatively we can start from scratch, introducing the group to a range of themes to help them explore what they really care about.

What skills do the young people gain?

Young people will develop their skills in: teamwork, listening and communication, facilitating discussion, public speaking, project design and implementation,  setting achievable goals, entrepreneurship, research skills and consulting, and possibly mentoring younger students too. They also gain practical leadership experience and everything they learn is fantastic preparation both for the world of work and further education. (Loads!)

How many people can you work with?

Groups of around 12-15 work brilliantly.

What are the people like?

Each project will be co-facilitated by one of our permanent staff members, alongside a highly trained lead facilitator. All our lead facilitators have participated in our Cycle Tour programme – an intensive training week and up to 8 weeks on the road, living as a sustainable community and facilitating workshops in schools and youth clubs across the country. This experience, alongside our in-house training creates unique, fantastic facilitators who are excellent role models to the young people we work with.  All facilitators will have an enhanced CRB check.

What do I need to commit?

All we need is you, a group of young people, and a time we can all meet regularly – this could be during curriculum time, at lunch, or after-school.  We like to work with a group for at least six hours, e.g. once a week for a half-term – but we’re pretty flexible so we can work intensively over a week, or several days, and the longer the project, the more the young people can take ownership and achieve results!

“You guys have been a great addition to the programme and we really appreciated your input…you have really managed to open some eyes and hopefully touched some of the young people to think more sustainably about their actions and their impact on the world.” – Sandra Jarzeskba, London Youth

I want a taster, how would that work?

Well, funny you should ask. We have a range of workshops designed to introduce young people to a variety of environmental and social issues.  They’re great as stand-alone workshops, or can be the beginning of something bigger.

Sounds interesting, I want more info!

If you’ve got any questions, you can give Iona or Edd a call on 020 7377 2109 or drop us an email to either or

You can also read more about how it all works, and past projects by clicking here. 


Living Under One (very hot) Sun

6th June 2012 by

For the last two weeks the Otesha Change Projects team has been enjoying an exciting new project working with St Aidan’s Primary School in Haringey, and a wonderful community project based in Tottenham.  Living Under One Sun works to build community leadership through healthy eating and food growing projects. They invited St Aidan’s and Otesha to come together at their community growing site in East Hale Allotments to create a Keyhole Garden.

Together we created a project, in which each class would visit the allotments to help build and plant the garden.  Every class which came to the allotment built a bit more of the garden, and the older year groups helped to document the process through words, photographs, and interviews – so they could pass on the story and the garden to the rest of the school.

Each day was jam packed! The classes were split into three groups, and rotated around the activities. One group started on our ‘Grow Your Own’ workshop – looking at where food comes from; when, where, and how it grows; planting seeds; and there was, of course, a healthy dose of games too! Another group talked about what sustainability and community really mean, before planning how to document, and actually documenting, the work the other group of children were doing to build the garden. When you ask children of that age “what do you need to have a good life?” the near unanimous response only includes the very basic necessities and a few things that do really matter: friends, family, education. Working with most people above that age, things like mobile phones, computers, and any other luxuries tend to come up much more quickly!



Three year groups have helped build the garden now – the first two on some of those very hot, hazy days of summer (wherever that season’s disappeared off to!). The garden is growing, a little more soil, a few more bricks, and in a couple of weeks the last group will be able to transplant some seedlings – then we can watch our garden flourish.

My story telling isn’t as good as the children’s, so read some of the letters they’ve sent us here:

Ode to the lollipops

16th September 2011 by

School crossing patrol officers didn’t feature heavily in my childhood, or I don’t remember them if they did.

But now I love them. These ladies and gentlemen of the lollipop are beacons of florescent hi-visibility and humanity. They command the traffic with an iron first, whilst stopping to chat to school children, parents and passersby. They provide the human touch in the midst of school-run jams. They put even the most aggressive engine revving, light jumping drivers in their place.

Wikipedia tells me that,
Under UK law it is an offence for a motorist not to stop if signalled to do so by a patroller. In the past patrollers only had the authority to stop the traffic for children. However, the Transport Act 2000 changed the law was so that a patroller had the authority to stop the traffic for any pedestrian.

I pass one crossing patrol officer on my way to work, she appears to know everyone. Regardless of rain, shine or snow, she dons a smile along with her hi-vis coat. One of my weekly commutes passes a zebra crossing in Tottenham where the lollipop man salutes me, the only cyclist, every time!

More algebra, less climate change

13th June 2011 by

There was a shriek from across the office as our officemate Melanie@MyBnk turned on her computer to read the news this morning. “Climate change should be excluded from curriculum” she cried, quoting the front page of the Guardian.

Tim Oates, government adviser on the new national curriculum for 5-16 yr olds, reckons schools should get to decide whether or not to teach students about climate change in science. Apparently we need “to get back to the science in science. We have believed that we need to keep the national curriculum up to date with topical issues, but oxidation and gravity don’t date.”

Excuse me Mr Oates, I don’t believe that the melting point of icecaps, carbon production upon burning certain resources and the effect of warming gases in the atmosphere date either. This is only, I politely remind you, THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE EVER TO FACE HUMANKIND and one that these students will have to find solutions for. Maybe schools should teach handwriting with a quill and ink rather than IT, good handwriting doesn’t date, does it?

He says, “we are not taking it back 100 years; we are taking it back to the core stuff.” Climate change has been part of the national curriculum since 1995, so no you’re right Tim, you’re only taking it back 16 years.

Bob Ward, policy and communications director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, points out that teaching science through topical issues like climate change makes core scientific concepts more interesting for students and can increase their understanding of science. “Certain politicians feel that they don’t like the concept of climate change. I hope this isn’t a sign of a political agenda being exercised”, I really hope so too Bob. He warns that giving skeptical teachers the option not to teach climate change “would not be in the best interests of pupils. It would be like a creationist teacher not teaching about evolution.”

What Oates would like is students to be taught algebra at an earlier age. Oh yes, it’s the lack of algebra that’s responsible for the ills of the world, climate change is just a minor distraction. I too would like to know more about algebra than climate change, but before I go and do that, shall we just deal with this pesky climate change thing together?

I apologise for the apoplectic tone of this blog. I am going to go and rage somewhere else now. But before I go, People & Planet are being much more constructive than I am about this particularly stupid bit of prospective policy, they’re created a campaign to keep climate change in the curriculum which you can join by writing to Tim Oates.

Search Blog

Get Social