There was a huge sigh of relief across the country when parents were told their children could return to school after pogoing in and out of lockdowns.
However, while our future generations were back in the classroom, a new set of problems arose as many were struggling to transition into mainstream education again.
Now, a real-life genie has flown from its lamp to support youth returning to their studies.
The incredible Awaken Genius partners with primary schools to help vulnerable students learn in a way that is relatable and fun, by mish-mashing creativity and academia with storytelling, theatre, and movement, as young people learn their core subjects like maths and English.
Speaking exclusively to InspoDaily about why he kickstarted the project, founder Michael Clarke said he believes that it is all about creating a classroom community where children experience learning rather than just memorising facts or listening without interaction.
Michael said: “I worked in a mainstream school in Haringey, London for 14 years. In January 2011, a student of mine was murdered outside of my school.
“This impacted my mental health and I had to take time off to receive counselling. Ever since, I’ve been committed to building a sense of community, and seeking how children learn best.”
Michael then started a Saturday school called ROPE (Rites of Passage Enterprise), in a bid to support black children in maths, English, and cultural studies.
During this venture, he soon discovered that “every child is a genius” and they just need the right environment to become one, so he changed the name of his company to reflect this.
Today, the revamped enterprise Awaken Genius strives to create an environment with ‘eduture’ at its heart, which means to bring out what is already within.
Michael said: “Our main purpose is to avoid the need for pupil referral units [children who don’t attend mainstream school], permanent exclusion, and similar punitive sanctions.
“We want to reduce wider societal issues of mental health and criminality in children from disadvantaged backgrounds.”
To broaden its mission, Awaken Genius has joined forces with MIND Haringey to address an ongoing challenge of wellbeing issues and school exclusion, particularly of Caribbean children.
Michael believes in the power of partnership and an all-hands-on-deck approach, which can significantly contribute towards tackling these issues, as even though similar organisations endeavour to do good it is common for charities and non-profits to want to fly solo.
He continued: “Children with challenging behaviours deserve to be supported with a broader variety of intervention and alternative curriculum providers.
“We need every child to matter and to ensure that every child ‘fits into education’, irrespective of their barriers to learning.”
Awaken Genius use a variety of techniques to help young people ‘fit’ and manage their anxieties around learning, including the polyvagal theory –a powerful tool in neuroscience and psychophysiology that explores the vagus nerve’s [the major pathway between the gut and brain] involvement in emotion regulation, social connection and fear response.
Michael concluded: “We want to give reassurance that our most vulnerable children are being safeguarded and that the governmental slogan ‘every child matters’ is fulfilled.
“This is my life purpose.”
For more info, click here: Awaken Genius.