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Start an Oxfam School Group

Inspire the generation to end poverty

Climate change. War. Injustice. These are the big issues of our time - and they're keeping people trapped in poverty. But given the opportunity, the young people you're teaching right now could tackle them all.

By being part of an Oxfam group after school or on their lunch hour, young people can take part in our latest campaigns, take the lead and speak out about global poverty.

Participants work towards the Oxfam Youth Ambassador's Award, which also counts towards the Duke of Edinburgh Award. And they'll build experience and skills that universities, colleges and employers will love.

Take on an extra-curricular challenge, and inspire the generation to end poverty.

Download taster presentation and activity 

Hear from Youth Ambassadors at Sir John Lawes School

"This fits in with what Ofsted says when they come to schools: it's all about independent learning and taking the lead." Cath Brookes, Burntwood School for Girls.

"Being involved with something that makes a big difference and doing it alongside such great people has been incredible - the skills I have learnt won't be forgotten." Shane, 17. 

FAQs

  • What is an Oxfam School Group?

    The individuals within an Oxfam School Group are known as Oxfam Youth Ambassadors and meet together in their own time after school or during a lunch hour. The group should aim to be as youth-led as possible, with the supporting teacher playing the role of mentor or coordinator. The group is supported by Oxfam to learn together about global issues, take action to end poverty, and develop skills and confidence. 

  • How many members should my Oxfam School Group have?

    A group should have at least 4 members and works best when there are between 10 and 20 members. Saying that, one of the most successful Oxfam School Groups includes 200 members from a particular school 'house'.

  • What age should the members of my Oxfam School Group be?

    The resources and opportunities Oxfam develops for Oxfam School Groups are aimed at all secondary ages, from year seven right up to sixth form. Any primary schools wishing to take part would need to adapt resources to make them suitable for their age group.

  • How do I start an Oxfam School Group?

    Use the taster presentation to recruit potential members to your group. The presentation explains what being an Oxfam Youth Ambassador involves and why it is worthwhile. Invite any young people who would like to be involved in your taster session - this should take between half an hour and an hour to run and will enable the young people to make an informed decision about whether they want to be involved.

    Then use the induction session to train your new Youth Ambassadors. This session will last an hour. After that, you will need to schedule regular meetings so that your group can keep its momentum going. Lots of groups meet over one lunch break per week. 

  • What do Oxfam School Groups do?

    Youth Ambassadors take action to end global poverty through campaigning and fundraising. Our Resources for Oxfam School Groups suggest activities for Youth Ambassadors such as organising a film evening and discussion, peer teaching in assemblies and in lessons, meeting MPs and other decision makers, and raising awareness though film making.

    Activities support a chosen Oxfam campaign theme such as inequality, education for all, or protecting people's human rights during emergencies. Visit our ideas gallery for examples of projects run by existing groups.

  • Do I need support from my Head Teacher and senior leaders in order to start an Oxfam School Group?

    It's not compulsory but it certainly helps! Over the years we have found the most successful school groups are the ones that have the support of  senior leaders and/or the Head Teacher. 

  • What resources are available to support my Oxfam School Group?

    Take a look at our Resources for Oxfam School Groups. Each term we offer new resource packs on different campaign themes with suggested action ideas. We can also send your group materials such as wrist bands and pens. On occasion we  can visit your Oxfam School Group in order to explain current campaigns, present Youth Ambassador Awards or just to answer questions and give your group a boost (see contact details below). We also can provide any equipment you might need for fundraising such as buckets, donation goblets (both with seals), stickers, and  Oxfam pin badges.

  • What do the members of an Oxfam School Group gain?

    Being an Oxfam Youth Ambassador is a very rewarding experience for the young people involved. They have fun, feel part of a team and make friends. They become part of a movement seeking to end extreme poverty within our lifetimes and use their voice to speak out against injustice. They will learn about the world around them, the issues that keep people locked in poverty, and the way that change happens. This learning can also help them in their academic subjects. In addition, they will gain skills in team work, public speaking, critical thinking and organisation.

    They can highlight all of these skills in their CVs, records of achievement and UCAS applications. They can receive formal recognition from Oxfam through the Oxfam Youth Ambassador Award. The time they spend acting as Youth Ambassadors also counts towards their DofE Award.

  • How does running an Oxfam School Group benefit my school?

    Running an Oxfam School Group can be used as evidence towards spiritual, moral, social and cultural development when completing your school's Ofsted Self Evaluation Form. It also aligns with the broad aims of the National Curriculum.

    Your school gains a certificate of recognition after one year of running an active group, once you  have applied for the members' Youth Ambassadors Awards. Resourcing and supporting an Oxfam School Group demonstrates your schools positive values and ethos.

    Young people  will develop transferable skills such as leadership,  time management and communication. They'll also apply curriculum knowledge from subjects like Geography, English, RE and Citizenship in real-life settings.

    Supporting Oxfam Youth Ambassadors demonstrates your school's commitment to its students' wellbeing and ongoing personal development. It also demonstrates that your school has strategies in place to ensure pupil voice is heard and acted upon.

    Finally schools have reported to us that having an Oxfam School Group has helped greatly in gaining their International Schools Award.

  • How does running an Oxfam School Group benefit me professionally?

    You could be teaching the generation to end poverty. Supporting a small group of Youth Ambassadors gives you the perfect opportunity to inspire and motivate your students and to pass on your passion for global citizenship and social justice. If you are working to progress your career then taking on a commitment such as this marks you out professionally as a leader, a self-starter and someone with plenty of initiative and passion. Don't just take our word for it, here is what other teachers say about running an Oxfam School Group.

  • How youth-led is an Oxfam School Group? How do I facilitate my group?

    We recommend that as a teacher you try to take on the role of enabler or mentor as far as possible. For example, you might delegate the facilitation of the induction session to your new group of Youth Ambassadors. It can take time to build up young people's confidence and skills to take on the leadership themselves, but ultimately the result will be less work for you and more development for your students.

  • What does the Youth Ambassador Award involve and how do I apply for it?

    After one year of  activity as an Oxfam School Group, you can apply for a Youth Ambassador Award. Each young person can receive the award year after year. Oxfam provides a badge and a certificate for each Youth Ambassador.

    The award gives group members the opportunity to use their experiences of learning and campaigning with Oxfam in their CVs, records of achievement, UCAS applications and so on.

    To receive the award, as well as the badges and certificates, the adult mentor of the group completes a brief  form and tells Oxfam:

    • The length of time the group has been active: Oxfam recommends that the group should have been active for roughly a year before applying for the award.
    • Number of projects completed: Oxfam recommends that the group should have participated in three projects before applying for the award.  
    • Skills gained: Oxfam wants to hear that as a group Youth Ambassadors have participated actively, used their voice and led others.

    That's all there is to it! The badge is not an exam, nor is it graded and assessed. We want everyone who is passionate and committed about supporting our campaigns to be recognised. How challenging you decide to make it is up to you. We encourage young people to set their own targets at a realistic yet ambitious level.

    As you progress, you can also log any hours you spend as a Youth Ambassador towards the DofE award.

  • How can young people co-badge their Oxfam Youth Ambassador Award with their DofE Award?

    Oxfam offers opportunities to complete both the volunteering and the skills sections of the DofE Award. However, we feel that volunteering is the most straightforward section to record and the majority of students who co-badge do so to complete the volunteering section of their DofE Bronze Award.

    A participant may spend up to 25% of their volunteering time on training or learning new skills, so there are plenty of opportunities to learn as part of a volunteering role. Volunteering may take place in either a school or college-based Youth Ambassadors Group, as well as in an Oxfam shop. Download the guide for more information.

  • What is campaigning?

    World change starts here. In the past it's meant the end of slavery, apartheid and the fall of the Berlin Wall. More recently it's meant slashing developing world debt, increasing aid in poor countries and banning the use of landmines against civilians. All of it has been made possible by brilliant, passionate people like you and your young people. People with the courage to raise their voice and do something positive. Put simply, campaigning is applying pressure in order to get the people who make decisions affecting millions of lives to do the right thing.

    Oxfam School Groups campaign by raising awareness of an issue face to face in their community, using the media and influencing decision makers. These are all illustrated with examples in the induction session.

  • What kinds of issues does Oxfam campaign on?

    Since 1942, Oxfam campaigners have gone all-out to end poverty, pushing for action on inequality, human rights, climate change and more. Over this time we have stood together with millions of passionate and committed people to call for a fairer world. We've also had some huge successes. To learn more about our current and previous campaigns and inspire your Youth Ambassadors, please visit the Oxfam website.

  • Do Oxfam School Groups fundraise for Oxfam?

    Absolutely! Fundraising is a brilliant opportunity for young people to have fun and support our life-changing work whilst also gaining new skills. We can support you with advice, ideas and fundraising materials. Our fundraising guide for schools contains lots of tips and ideas for running a great event.

  • What support is there to help my Oxfam School Group to fundraise?

    We can provide you with buckets, table cloths, badges, stickers and advice on the best ways to fundraise. Just get in touch. We also have a fundraising guide for schools.

  • How do I pay in any money my Oxfam School Group has raised for Oxfam?

    1.   The easiest way to pay your donation is via the Oxfam Sundry Account at any branch of Nat West. The sundry account details are:

    Bank: Nat West

    Account: 08551766

    Sort Code: 54-21-23

    Once you've paid in your donation, please let your fundraising contact know that you've done so and we will be able to make sure that it goes into the correct Oxfam account and we can acknowledge your donation straight away. When you begin fundraising for Oxfam you will be given a unique reference number. Simply state this when you contact us to let us know you've paid in and we will do the rest. 

  • Can I raise money to support the running of my Oxfam School Group?

    You can't fundraise in Oxfam's name and then use that money for your group's activities - it's illegal. You can fundraise for your group, but when anyone gives money (e.g. donates, or buys a ticket) you need to make it clear where their money will go.

    If your group decides to do this, please use this statement on all promotional materials, tickets, and at the point of sale if you're running a stall: 'This fundraising activity has been organised by [your group name], a group of young people which campaigns on key issues, supported by Oxfam GB, registered charity no. 202918 (England and Wales) and SC039042 (Scotland). Proceeds from this appeal will cover the group's campaigning costs.'

    If you want to put on an event and cover your costs with the takings, work out how much of the ticket price you think you'll need. Spell this out on your promotional materials and printed tickets (e.g. '£4 from every ticket sale will go to Oxfam').

  • How much time will it take me to mentor an Oxfam School Group?

    Setting up a group and getting the young people initially engaged is the most time-consuming part of the process. Once you have done this, we recommend that your group meets once a week during their lunch break or after school. A teacher or other adult should definitely be present. Your young people will also need support to run their activities outside of the group. If you can get other staff members on board and also empower your Youth Ambassadors to lead the groups as far as is possible, then this will save you time.

  • How can I make sure my group’s campaigning activities are safe and legal?

    There are a few simple guidelines which you should follow to keep your group's activities safe and legal. Similar guidelines apply to the activities of schools in general.

    As a charity, Oxfam cannot express political views or promote any political party or campaign.

    1. Your group should never promote or express support for a particular political party. However, you may comment on a party's position on a matter of legitimate concern to Oxfam (except in the weeks leading up to a national election when heavier legal restraints are in place).

    2. Make the distinction between your opinion and Oxfam's. When using social media, be sure tag your school in order to make it clear that you are not an official Oxfam Spokesperson. If you describe Oxfam's stance on a particular issue, make sure you can say where you found it.

    3. If an emergency or high-profile event takes place, Oxfam will provide background information within a few days. You can always ask for advice from your Oxfam contact.

    Respecting privacy

    When you put on events and raise awareness, it's likely that you'll ask people for personal data, for example to join a mailing list or sign a petition. In legal speak, any person holding information about other people is obliged to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998. This means that you should state very clearly how data will be used, who will hold it, and whether it will be shared with anyone else. You also need to make sure you store people's information really carefully.

    Money

    It's illegal to fundraise 'for Oxfam' and then use that money for your group's activities.

  • Can I speak to someone about setting up and supporting an Oxfam School Group?

    Of course! Please contact Jo-Anne Witcombe on 07825436619 or email jwitcombe@oxfam.org.uk. On occasion, we can also come in to visit your school.