Youth Navigators

Schools project • March 2011 - July 2015

About Youth Navigators

The Youth Navigators programme was a 4 year project that enabled young people from schools across Thanet to become skilled and confident gallery guides, training with gallery educators, a practicing artist and a practical philosopher.

At the end of their training Youth Navigators were engaging gallery visitors in open-ended conversations about art, using our hands-on-philosophy approach to put the visitor at ease, to encourage original thinking and facilitate a meaningful exchange of ideas.

The Youth Navigators

Youth Navigators were mainly recruited from non-selective Secondary Schools in Thanet, working with ten students per term, from three different schools per year. Head teachers selected students they believed would benefit most from the programme.

Over 4 years Turner Contemporary worked with 193 students as part of the Youth Navigators project. Following a pilot with King Ethelbert School in 2011, we continued onto working with Homewood School, Hartsdown Academy, Clarendon House Grammar School, Charles Dickens School, Ellington & Hereson School (now Royal Harbour Academy), Ursuline College, East Kent College, Royal Harbour Academy, Charles Dickens School, St Georges Church of England School Broadstairs, and Castle Community College Deal.

Over the course of the rounded training programme students took part in philosophical discussions around artworks, hands-on making, body language awareness training, and activities about perspective, empathy, and presentation skills. Trainees worked towards their Bronze Arts Award, and several students took part in Work Experience at Turner Contemporary as part of the programme.

Click here to download the Youth Navigators evaluation report

Everything that I am doing now has come from this. It gave me the tools I needed to push my life forward

Harley, Pilot Phase Youth Navigator

Project Achievements:

Our aim for the project was for students to show the necessary critical thinking skills and philosophical approach to lead an open-ended conversation, using art as a stimulus. By the end of the programme, participants also reported these outcomes:

  • Increased confidence in talking to adults that young people do not know
  • Increased confidence in their own arts practice
  • More interest in art – e.g. taking art at GCSE when they otherwise wouldn’t have
  • Better vocabulary (shown by pre and post evaluation testing)
  • Becoming more articulate (giving reasons for opinions, confidence in expressing opinions, more comfortable ‘arguing’ with others)
  • Increased empathy – a greater understanding of how others might be feeling and how to deal with this
  • Increased awareness of the arts as an industry and how galleries operate
  • The Youth Navigators project was identified by Ofsted as a model of good practice in raising achievement and aspirations through high quality partnership working.

As a result of the Youth Navigator project, we’ve had pupils take up art at GCSE that wouldn’t have done it before.

Andy Somers, Principal, Hartsdown Academy

Funders and partners

Kent County Council 2010-2012 seed funding for pilot project

Rayne Foundation 2012-15

Lankelly Chase 2012-15

Mid Kent DFAS 2015-16

Artswork South East Bridge 2015

Plus Tate national research initiative