Youth Resilience project praised for helping pupils to make smooth transition into secondary school

The Key Stage 3 Manager at a Leeds High School has praised the work of Leeds Rhinos Foundation in providing extra provision and support to students through their new COVID-19 Youth Resilience project.

The 12-week programme, supported by funding from the Youth Endowment Fund, is helping at-risk Year 7 students at Carr Manor Community School to make the challenging transition from Primary School to High School, while dealing with the extra stress and anxiety caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. For the school’s Key Stage 3 and Transition Head, Nicola Spacey, this teaching has proven to be ‘hugely beneficial’ for the young people involved.

She said: “The pupils here have really enjoyed participating in Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s COVID-19 Youth Resilience project. The team have built up great relationships with the pupils, formed over the summer holidays through home visits, and it is evident to me just how much this has supported their development.

“The programme has enabled the pupils to build their confidence, become more independent and learn the importance of resilience, which is vital in such challenging and uncertain times. This has showed in their engagement in school life and has helped them with their studies, where they are now fully engaged and thriving as part of our Key Stage 3 community. It has also helped them to build and sustain positive relationships in school.

“We are truly grateful for the support and provision we have received from Leeds Rhinos Foundation. Dane and Janet have been excellent; the pupils have thoroughly enjoyed working with them and we are all looking forward to the weeks ahead.”

Last week’s sessions saw students enjoy outdoor diversionary activities delivered by staff from Herd Farm Activity Centre- including Archery, Relay Races and Team-Building games. 11-year-old Jayden commented, “This programme has taught me to not keep things bottled up and that it’s ok to speak to someone if you need help. I’ve really enjoyed working with the Rhinos’ teachers and having the chance to step outside the classroom, take a bit of a break and vary my learning.”

Fellow pupil Lewis, 11, added: “I’ve learnt a lot of resilience skills and now I understand the importance of not giving up when things get tough. It’s a way to relieve your anxiety or stress if you may have it, and express your feelings in a different environment where you feel comfortable.”

The Youth Resilience project was launched this Summer following the news that Leeds Rhinos Foundation was one of 130 organisations nationwide to obtain a share of a £6.5m grant pot from the Youth Endowment Fund, designed to fund targeted intervention schemes to support young people who have being impacted by the huge disruption caused by the COVID-19 health crisis.

Having reached the halfway stage of their first wave of delivery, Education Officer and Project Tutor Dane Weatherill is delighted with the response from students and staff alike and believes the Youth Resilience project can have long-term success in helping young people to make the step up into High School, even beyond the coronavirus pandemic.

“Now that we’ve been able to establish positive relationships and get on the same wavelength with how the sessions are run, I think things are going really good and all the pupils are buying into the all key messages of our teaching,” said Weatherill.

“We’re still working with classroom-based principles, developing their English and Maths skills alongside our physical activities and tasks which focus on building up their character and resilience. When this is combined, it creates a well-rounded approach to developing the young people and gives them the tools they need to adapt to the differences between Primary and Secondary education.

“It’s really important teaching resilience this year, especially because of COVID and the impact it’s having not just on schools, but also on the children’s home lives. This programme enables them to ease nicely into lessons and feel confident about overcoming the challenges they may face at a critical point in their lives where so much is changing and different to them.”

For more information about the COVID-19 Youth Resilience project, please email