Page 26 - Independent Schools Magazine
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Are we taking a gamble with students’ lives?
Are your students more tired than usual? Are they glued to the screen of their ‘phone? Are they all talking about the latest social game? If so they may be heading towards problem gambling. Adrian Sladdin suggests how schools can encourage their young people into an appropriate approach to gaming and gambling....
 Head teachers, as we know,
have to deal with a wide range
of issues and every year brings new concerns. If you read your newspapers, you will see that both gaming and gambling are encroaching into the behaviours of young people, often in an adverse way. In many cases the amount of both time and money being lost are worrying, with little advice for students, parents and teachers on what is appropriate both in and out of the classroom. But help is at hand with a new charity which deals with these issues at both primary and secondary level.
YGAM or the Young Gamblers Education Trust is a charity with the aim to educate, safeguard and inform young people against the problems of social gaming and gambling. Founded by former problem gambler, Lee Willows, in 2014, the charity has grown to be the leading organisation working in this area of education. It has been a rapid journey from the initial idea of raising awareness around these challenging subjects to delivering workshops, lessons and resources which address
these needs. Indeed not everyone realised that there was even
an issue around gaming and
gambling for young people four years ago!
Since then YGAM has welcomed hundreds of practitioners through its doors, training teachers, youth workers, youth offending teams, heads of safeguarding and even the police, suggesting that there is an appetite to find out more about gaming and gambling by lots of professionals who work with young people, ranging from age 7 to 25.
The charity is balanced in its approach to both gaming and gambling, and works in tandem with the industries to promote harm minimisation and safer behaviours, offering young people the chance to find out for themselves what is an appropriate approach to both gaming and gambling.
Director of Education, Adrian Sladdin, has worked with Lee over the last four years to develop the curriculum models, training workshops and other educational resources, and is not surprised by the interest in the organisation and its work. As he says, “Personal, Social, Health & Economic Education has long been an important subject in schools and it seemed
only natural to add both gaming and gambling into the equation, especially with ever-easier online access via the internet. We found that young people were spending both too much money or too much time on either gaming and gambling, and we wanted to do something about it.”
The charity has recently begun running sessions for parents
as well, many of whom are genuinely perplexed by what young people are doing on-line, especially when the credit card or phone bill comes through. This
is perhaps the first generation which has not known life without access to the internet and
mobile devices; it also has little understanding of the long-term consequences of these actions, including addiction and mental health issues. More than ever, young people are engaging with gaming and gambling, and the problems around debt, falling grades and tiredness in the classroom, are hard to ignore. The YGAM challenge-based curriculum model allows teachers to choose activities suitable for each age group, as well as engaging students in research, enquiry and presentation skills, so that there is no pre-set agenda.
The charity has recently expanded, with six new appointments to the workforce. There are also plans to reach out to at least ten universities as part of the strategic plan, given that students are also prone
to issues around gaming and gambling. Partnerships include work with the Independent Schools Association and with
the Boarding School Association, as well as other educational organisations.
As Peter Woodroffe Deputy CEO at ISA says, “YGAM have produced some wonderfully usable
resources that can be used across the curriculum, not just in PSHE lessons. I am certain that schools will appreciate the activities
and lesson plans that skilfully weave real, interesting issues
into the existing, full curriculum. Personally, I am worried about addiction to gambling and gaming in our young people and it is great to see a charity doing something about it.”
YGAM runs both free central training for teachers across England at present, but also offers costed, bespoke INSET on enquiry. For further details on anything in this article, please visit or email
Adrian Sladdin is Director of Education at YGAM and CEO at YGAM innovations Limited, delivering corporate training to the gaming and gambling industry, as well as workshops and training for the education sector. He also works as an independent educational consultant on projects and partnerships in the UK and around the world, specializing in developing training content around leadership and employability skills.
Great Geography Bake Off
The first ‘Great Geography Bake Off’ was held at the PTA Summer Party at Farlington School, Sussex. Seventeen geographically- themed cakes were created by girls in the Prep and Senior School.
Technical skill in cake creation and geographical accuracy were taken into consideration by the Judges, as well as taste!
   26 Independent Schools Magazine
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