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The power of a universal language at Envision

Envision’s partnership with Skills Builder has turbocharged essential skills development for young people aged 14-19 through designing and implementing projects that create tangible, lasting improvements within their school or college communities – from raising awareness of mental health, to creating a uniform swap shop.

In 2020, Envision sought to streamline their approach. As the organisation had grown, so had their programme iterations. “The magic was there, but it wasn’t quite pushing everyone in the same direction,”explained Jo Clark, Director of Programmes and Impact at Envision. Envision’s expanding work with schools and desire to better understand its outcomes had also increased the need for a more standardised curriculum.

Envision found alignment with Skills Builder’s Universal Framework. “There was something truly wonderful,accessible, enduring, evidenced, and transferable about the language of Skills Builder,” said Elisabeth Paulson, CEO of Envision. They worked together to craft their Envision Essential Skills Framework – fully integrating the Universal Framework and refining their curriculum to build these skills explicitly. Essential skills became their ultimate outcome and heart of their mission.

On the Envision programme, young people assess their essential skills pre- and post-programme. When they come to present their projects, the emphasis is not just on “who has the most successful social action project” but “who has developed their essential skills, how they’ve used them to make change, and how they’ll use them in the future,” explained Elisabeth Paulson.

Another part of the programme sees teams of young people paired with a team of mentors from a local business who support their skills development and projects. Young people and mentors use that recognised common skills language – and mentors value building their own essential skills in the process.“What we were able to do by working with Skills Builder was to go to our partners and use that universal language as well, strengthening the programme,” reflected Jo Clark.

Envision progressed to make this same language part of their staff development, which has supported high-quality programme delivery. Relationships between programme coordinators and young people have also benefited from that shared understanding and language.

Envision is proud to be part of a broader movement emphasising the importance of essential skills. “We want our outcomes and our programme’s rigour to be as strong as possible so essential skills sceptics have less opportunity to pick holes and supporters more opportunity to say this is one of the reasons why essential skills need more attention,” Elisabeth Paulson commented.

Envision’s achievements include a top Impact Level 4 programme rating and a Gold Excellence Mark for their staff development work, showcasing how the Universal Framework connects values and impact throughout an organisation - and, most importantly, for the individuals it serves.