Press Release January 2022 – Citizens UK and DMAT Partnership

14 January 2022 |

Dartmoor Multi Academy Trust (DMAT) has embarked on an exciting partnership with Citizens UK to deepen its civic work and to ensure that children, families, and staff have a say in terms of what happens in the areas they live in.

Staff across Tavistock College, Okehampton Primary School, and Bridgerule Primary School are being supported by Citizens UK Community Organisers to build power across their local community, listen to what local residents think about their local areas, and identify issues they can address to improve the lives of all.

This work kicked off with ‘listening campaigns’ at the three schools. The sessions, in part led by enthusiastic children, were designed to encourage people of all ages across the community to discuss what is great about the places they live and what could be done to improve these areas.

Building on the work already underway with dozens of other schools and Multi-Academy Trusts, Citizens UK’s ambition is to build a Citizens Alliance across Devon over the next two to three years. The aim of the Citizens Alliance will be, in the same way as other Citizens UK alliances across England and Wales have done, to address the structural issues many families face in their daily lives.

As well as fostering a sense of pride in their communities, children are learning invaluable skills through the process, such as leading a meeting, listening, and discussing the themes which are important to them. This process has built up childrens’ confidence and increased their belief that they can be a positive force for good in their community.

Dan Morrow, CEO and Trust Leader for Dartmoor Multi-Academy Trust, said: “We are always aware of and thankful for the positive and proactive role our schools play in their local communities, and I am hugely excited to expand this through our work with Citizens UK. The skills which the children are learning through being part of these ‘Listening Campaigns’ are invaluable and are also transferable to their everyday life.

“It’s so important for children to feel empowered and confident in their opinions, and to believe that they can be a force for good in their community. I’m therefore hugely excited to see this project develop, and what ideas they come up with!”

Dr Seb Chapleau, Lead Organiser and Headteacher-in-Residence at Citizens UK said: “There have been so many discussions across the education sector recently about the need to ‘build back better’ after Covid. The many injustices which our school communities face won’t be fixed unless we are brave enough to embrace our civic responsibility. Dartmoor Multi-Academy Trust, as it’s establishing a partnership with Citizens UK, is doing just that. Leaders across DMAT are ready to build the power that is required for its families and staff to be taken seriously and, as such, to shape what should be happening across their neighbourhoods.”

Notes for editors:

  • Citizens UK is a people power alliance of diverse local communities working together for the common good.
    Its mission is to develop local leaders, strengthen local organisations which are the lifeblood of their communities and make change.
  • Its member communities are deeply rooted in their local areas. These schools, universities, churches, mosques, synagogues, parent groups, health trusts, charities and unions, are important civic institutions which connect every day to the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
  • Through the method of Community Organising, Citizens UK enables communities and local leaders to develop their voice and come together with the power and strategy to make real change.
  • This leads to hundreds of neighbourhood improvements – from zebra crossings outside primary schools to reopening renovated public toilets in cemeteries.
  • Citizens UK also focuses on structural change, and its work has led to some of the biggest campaign impacts in the UK, such as the Living Wage with its £2 billion of wages won for low-paid workers, or successful campaigns to persuade the Government to stop exploitative lending by capping the cost of credit; or introducing a law to prevent the detention of children for immigration purposes.