STUDENTS have praised a campaign designed to help them take control of their futures and delivered by one of the youngest professional speakers in the UK.

The Year 9 and 11 pupils at Clacton County High School took part in workshops at the end of last year to empower young people from under-represented groups as part of the Make Happen campaign.

Make Happen was devised by the Essex Collaborative Outreach Network (ECON) and delivered by PurePotential and Kamal Ellis-Hyman, 22, who has forged a career helping young people realise their potential with his own relatable story.

To launch the campaign, ECON worked with Colchester-based marketing agency Mackman, whose team designed a website platform giving facts about university and hosting videos which showed different people’s experiences while studying.

Clare Ruffle, arts education officer at Essex University, took a lead role in launching the campaign.

She said: “Make Happen has become a movement to encourage young people to take control of their future and make informed choices.

"We want to reach young people who may not have access to that kind of information, or don’t believe university is for them.”

Clacton County High School was one of 11 schools where Make Happen workshops were held in Essex including Colchester and Braintree.

It reached 678 students countywide with 79 per cent feeling they they had a clearer idea of the subject they wanted to study after school because of it.

Make Happen comes at a time where university attendance among disadvantaged groups, while at a record high, is slowing down, and is still significantly lower than those from a more affluent background, according to UCAS.

Sandra James, careers advisor at Clacton County High School, said: "The students involved in the workshops were motivated by Kamal's high-energy style of delivery.

"He encouraged them to think out of their box, by looking at an activity they have participated in, whether it be a sport, paper round, a craft or organising a party, and drawing out the key skills they had already developed.

"It helped the students realise their skills and qualities, combined with qualifications, are all important for their future careers."