Creative Forces Day
Creative Forces Day. Friday 18th November 2016.
The Creative Forces event held at Bath Spa University on 18th November was used to stimulate the interests of Year 7 Service families’ pupils into thinking forward to the possibility of taking up a Further Education course in the future. Along with Service families’ pupils from The Stonehenge School, there were also pupils there from Avon Valley, Kingdown and Wellington.
The University of Winchester had organised these events previously, and they were present at Bath to help them through their initial presentation. Other than the main organisers from Bath Spa and Winchester, there were two university student "Ambassadors" for every 10 school pupils, students who were also from Service families and were in their second or third year at the universities. There was also a representative from Rhondda Cynon Taff local education authority to enquire as to the level of additional help/intervention provided for Service families’ pupils.
The ice-breaker involved pupils playing a "True/False" game involving questions about university life ("Further Education offers over 37,000 different courses in the UK" True/False?) A selection of university words were thought of and discussed by the pupils/organiser, and discussion made and description of university life. Some very sensible questions (How much does accommodation cost?) were asked. Aspects of life in a Service family were discussed, and reasons given as to why this particular lifestyle gave Service Families children an advantage compared to other pupils (whilst acceptance of the disadvantages were mentioned, implication was made that these actually worked in favour of the pupils by increasing their life skills).
The pupils were then given a presentation by Mimi Thebo (Senior Writing Lecturer and author) with her stressing to them the physical and mental benefits of regular reading and creative writing, getting the pupils to explore aspects of this themselves.
The pupils were then taken around the grounds of Bath Spa University by the ambassadors, showing the pupils first hand aspects of student life: education facilities, cafes/restaurants, student union bar, gymnasium and student accommodation. It was certainly enough to make more than one pupil say "I want to come here!"
After a buffet lunch, the pupils were asked to produce an A2 sized presentation sheet to be presented to the rest of the classes highlighting the sort things that they thought would be of benefit provided for them by schools. They then gave a presentation of their display to the other groups there.
The accompanying teachers were, whilst they were doing this, taken to another room and spoke with a representative of Rhondda Cynon Taff local education authority, someone in their educational establishment that had spent 24 years in the military and obviously knew the advantages and disadvantages that Service Families pupils experienced. Discussion then took place between the accompanying staff as to what the definition of a service pupil was, with subsequent discussion as to how different these pupils wanted to be seen as different from ordinary pupils -the answer to which was that they do not. One of the attending accompanying teachers said that at their school teachers who were designated (generally a teacher with military experience) to act as someone that Service pupils could speak more freely about problems with, wore a different coloured lanyard to hold their ID card. This was regarded as a good idea by all.
The event was also attended by 2 Ukrainians with previous military connections from the University of Kiev.
It did prove to be a very successful event for the pupils that took part. The University of Winchester had been providing this event for pupils as young as year 5, and the ethos is that the younger the dream of Further Education can be made on the impressionable mind then, hopefully, they will keep the dream and follow it through.