As a 21st century school, allowing young voices to be heard is integral to what we do. With this in mind, we are delighted to be partnering with Mind of My Own, an organisation dedicated to providing young people with a voice and a platform to have their views and feelings heard. Mind of My Own create original apps designed specifically for children and young people to allow them to express how they are feeling on their own terms. In doing so they are committed to advancing universal children’s rights, actively supporting Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
For this blog, we decided to do a short Q&A with the Mind of My Own team to give you a better sense of what they do and how they work. Check it out below!
Why was Mind of My Own created, and what are its main goals?
A good idea in 2013 sparked a project that two years later became an organisation in its own right. We used a grant from Nominet Trust (now Social Tech Trust) to make the first prototype, co-produced and tested with young people. From proof of concept we moved to an appreciation of the social value of our product and began to create sustainability by building a business model alongside the digital development. In the first few years we worked unpaid as we established ourselves in the social care field.
What role do you feel digital technology plays or can play in the lives of today’s young people?
Technology used in the right way can be powerful: at Mind Of My Own we have evidence that it can increase trust, break down barriers, build rapport and provide common ground with young people. All of these things support the growth of the relationship between young people and their workers or teachers. We also know that the advancement of technology has helped millions of people to transform the ways in which we communicate with each other, whether on mobile, social media, websites or email.
Now more than ever, young people and schools are turning towards technology to sustain relationships and diminish the possibility of education gaps. During the current Covid crisis digital technology has assumed even greater importance.
Tell us a bit more about the production of your apps. Why is it important to you to include children and young people in this process?
Both apps have been created using a five stage process of user centred research and co-production: Desk based research. Discovery phase and co-creation - what do children and young people want and need, how do they use apps and devices, what do they like. Many hours spent with services to understand their problems, issues and needs. Paper prototyping, with children and young people, results leading to; Digital prototyping, Beta testing - made available as a desktop and mobile browser-based app, used to test real life situations.
How does the Mind of My Own App work?
There are two ways users can access our apps. Young people can have their own One app account where they can send a statement to a teacher of their choice 24/7 at a time that suits them. Young people can also access the One app and Express, which is meant for younger children and those with additional needs, from a worker’s account. The One app is free to download from the App Store, Google Play Store and Android Store and can also be accessed by any web browser.
In what ways can it benefit school pupils?
Mind Of My Own provides students the opportunity to discuss different aspects about their education and their life both inside and outside the school day. It supports readiness to learn and allows students to explore their interests and aspirations as well as ask for more support if needed. For teachers, the statements that young people complete allow them to understand their students’ perspective of their education and allows them to provide support in a quicker way that suits their students best. The data on the Service portal not only allows schools to target resources effectively, but also allows them to gain an understanding of their student body and measure distanced travelled of the individual student, of the school year and of the entire school as a whole.
We are delighted to now be working with Mind of My Own to provide further pastoral care and support for our pupils. Pupils are given the opportunity to sign up for a Mind of my Own account, either through the app or on their website, which then allows them to send in ‘wellbeing reports’, ‘share good news’, and ‘report a problem’, amongst other things. These reports come through to designated key staff at My Online Schooling who are then able to address any issues if necessary.
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My Online Schooling is an online learning platform that offers a flexible, full-time English Curriculum-led education to children all over the world. We support home-educated pupils by providing live online lessons following a set syllabus, offering them the opportunity to receive International GCSE and A-Level qualifications that open doors to higher education.