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Make it!

Make It!

Make it! Cultivating critical thought

Make it! is Toynbee Hall's flagship youth project. We work in-school with year 8 students through a combination of 1-2-1 mentoring, accredited group work, and a community learning project.   

For three years Make it! has worked to cultivate critical thinking skills in Tower Hamlets and Newham. This year we will expand to work with secondary schools in Camden, Lambeth and Hackney, enriching the experience of all participants.

Our aim

Make it! is not an intervention or project that wants to change the students. Make it! aims to offer students the opportunity to challenge themselves, make new friends and develop a greater sense of community. 

We work to engage all students as individuals, without the “in need” or “at risk” label too often attached to youth projects. We do so through our commitment to dismantle ‘deficit thinking’.

Deficit thinking refers to a process that focuses on student’s deficiencies rather than their strengths. Educational thinkers such as Paulo Freire, bell hooks and Frantz Fanon have explored this concept, pointing to the common failings of initiatives that consciously or subconsciously subscribe to this way of thinking.

As a project committed to focusing on student’s strengths, our young people’s input is integral to the selection process. Make it! groups are carefully curated to ensure the group cannot be labelled. Within a cohort you will find students at opposing ends of the behaviour, attainment, confidence, and any other scale you care to mention. During the year these students will work together for the collective benefit not only of the group, but of their school and community.

We are always eager to talk more about our project’s ethos. To find out more about how we challenge dismantle deficit thinking, read our Parent/Carer FAQ's or contact


Read George's story to see what kind of impact Make it! can have on young people

Our work

We believe all people are born curious, which fuels an insatiable appetite for learning. Because of this, each element of the Make it! project is designed to feed this curiosity:

  • Thought provoking 1-2-1 sessions are anchored by popular celebrities to support engagement with topics such as empathy, communication, and courage.  
  • Challenging group work sessions seek to debunk stereotypes and enhance debating skills.
  • Comfort zones are expanded on community learning projects that invite students to face challenges, make new friends and impact their community.    

Check out what we got up to last year in the video above, the full-length film can be found here. You can keep up to date with the Make it! project by following us on Instagram.


We measure the impact of Make it! in 5 key areas:

  • Community involvement
  • Relating to others   
  • Taking responsibility
  • Engagement with learning
  • Aspirations

Information is collected from students, key teaching staff, and parents/carers at the start and end of the project. Our 360⁰ evaluation allows for  a holistic understanding of our project’s impact.

Make it! evaluation shows:

  • 81% of participants feel encouraged to take part in their community.
  • 80% of parents agreed their children are taking more responsibility following the project compared to 64% before the project.
  • 90% of the participants felt that Make It! had encouraged them to participate more in lessons.
  • 94% of participants felt Make It! had encouraged them to work for a better future.

You can read the full Make it! Report 2016/17 here.