Taking part in a project, such as running a club or renovating a garden, can prevent pupils becoming disengaged from education, research suggests.
The Demos study indicated working on a pupil-led “co-production” with teachers and school staff improved behaviour, confidence and social skills.
The think tank set up projects in four schools in England over the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years.
A total of 64 Key Stage 3 pupils (11- to 14-year-olds) worked with 15 staff.
The projects were:
- a lunchtime sports club at John Whitgift Academy in Grimsby
- launching a petition to change school uniform at Eastlea Community School, in Newham, east London
- tidying and replanting a school garden at Greenwood Academy, in Birmingham
- supporting Tour de France celebrations at Firth Park Academy, in Sheffield.
In a survey carried out after the completion of the project, 45% of pupils saw an improvement in behaviour and there was an 11% drop in the number of students reporting they were frequently getting into trouble at school.
Many staff and students also said their relationships had improved, because the traditional teacher-student model had been redefined when working together in a more relaxed and informal way.