Takeover Day Take 2!

For the second annual RSA Academies Takeover Day, held on 18th November, 60 students from across our Family of Academies travelled down from the West Midlands (including our two new schools, Abbeywood First School and Church Hill Middle School) to ‘take over’ the RSA. To start, students were given tours of the historic building and RSA staff ran workshops with school groups on various aspects of the RSA – from the blog that Holyhead wrote with the digital team, to the workshop on fellowship where pupils were asked for fellowship nomination suggestions, to the events team asking students how more young people could get involved in RSA events, the first half of the day was a great opportunity for all pupils to learn about the RSA and contribute to what we do here.

Students were then given the opportunity to feedback through a post-it note exercise posing the following questions:  What have you seen/learnt that the RSA does well? What should the RSA do differently? What ideas has today given you about things you could take back to your school?

Pupils thought the RSA was good at “the sharing of ideas and making it happen” and that we “inspire creativity and communication [and] work with lots of people to better situations.” Many pupils also enjoyed the tours of the building and learning about the RSA’s past, with students saying, “I have seen that the RSA has many achievements” and “I’ve learnt a lot of history here.”

With regards to what we could do better, several students commented on the archives, saying, for example, that “the archives are a wonderful resource that need to be utilised and promoted by the RSA Family more often.” A few pupils also felt that we could do more to involve students from the academies, suggesting that “the RSA needs to have more events for young people” and that we should also “give more opportunities for youth e.g. apprenticeships and shadowing a worker at the RSA”.

“More creativity” and “blogs” were two things students said they were inspired to take back to their schools from the RSA. One pupil also suggested they could have “some sort of fellowships for school” and another plans to “place stimulating artwork in the sixth form study area” inspired by the various artworks dotted around the RSA building. Finally, one student told us that the RSA has helped her school “inspire young students to participate and make brilliant and inspiring pathways for future”.

The second half of the afternoon saw schools practise their project pitch, which they had been asked to develop in advance for a Dragons’ Den-style competition with 5 RSA members of staff making up the judging panel. All seven schools did a fantastic job at presenting their project ideas, with impressively detailed budget breakdowns and sustainability models. Projects ranged from creating a storytelling area (Church Hill), developing an outdoor performance stage (Abbeywood), starting a gardening club (Arrow Vale), using savings from lower carbon emissions to fund well-being classes (Whitley) and a helping the homeless initiative (Holyhead).

The winner was RSA Academy, with a fantastic project to develop a multi-faith museum as a way of building tolerance and tackling prejudice in the local community. The runner-up was Ipsley, with another great project encouraging pupils to eat more healthily by selling fruit smoothies, the profits of which would be used to start a club where pupils would learn how to make films. Both Abbeywood and Church Hill also received commendations from the judges for their project ideas and their presenting styles, which involved song and storytelling. All four schools received a cash prize to turn their ideas into a reality.

Well done to all the schools and students – everyone did such a great job of taking us over that the Children’s Commissioner has awarded us with a gold commendation for the day.

We will be in touch with the schools next term to see how they are getting on with their projects so watch this space!