Leadership Blog: Youth Summit will reconnect young people to their missed learning

From Philip Pothen | Director of Engagement

Among the groups most affected by the pandemic have been our schoolchildren. The impacts of home schooling and stop-start lockdowns, the effects of mask-wearing, social distancing, bubbles and other measures in the classroom and the lack of continuity and predictability in their learning have disrupted their lives and their educational development.

As we finally but tentatively emerge from Covid, our thoughts turn to how we can begin to make up for the missed learning, the lost fun, creativity and opportunities that schoolchildren and young people have missed out on over the last two years.

One of the most ambitious and exciting initiatives to address this challenge is Kent County Council’s Reconnect programme. It represents a significant commitment to our county’s schoolchildren and young people and, as a university with a similar commitment to the learning, progression and skills of everyone in our region, I believe this initiative fully deserves our support.

It was this commitment that drove our wish to apply to host and deliver an event which would help address some of these challenges. The recent news that we are being funded to deliver a Youth Summit is fantastic for the university but great for the programme and our young people too as I think we have a great deal to offer.

In summary, the Kent Youth Summit will be a vibrant multiplatform event co-designed with Kent County Council and with young people themselves for young people living in our county. Over five days at the end of June our Summit will address many of the negative impacts of the pandemic, reconnecting young people to a world of learning, engagement and creativity and providing a platform for them to express themselves on subjects of importance to them.

Typically, learning activities will be designed to take place in the weeks leading up to the event, with engagement building up to and culminating in a week-long, on-campus Youth Summit, involving keynote speakers, debates, competitions, exhibition spaces and much more. These activities – some delivered by our academics and some by students – will be linked to real-world themes underpinned by high-quality teaching and world-leading research expertise.

We’ll also amplify these activities across the county through the work of KMTV, through our own communications channels and through regional media so that as we emerge from the pandemic we can ensure we recognise, reward, and celebrate young people’s efforts and achievements, and ensure that their voices are heard.

It’s great to receive good news – but the hard work starts now! Watch out for regular updates on the Summit as we bring plans together and do get in touch if you think your work could be a part of it.