Ideas into action – Takeover Day 2017

On Thursday 30 November we hosted the RSA Family of Academies at RSA House to celebrate our 4th annual Takeover Day. This year the seven schools in the Family of Academies were joined by Wilkes Green Junior School, a feeder school for Holyhead. The day serves as a great opportunity for pupils and staff from the academies to really collaborate with the RSA as a wider organisation. Laura Hatton, a teacher at Church Hill Middle School, mentioned “The pupils felt a sense of connection to the RSA House and staff as they felt part of a community of schools and a wider organisation.” RSA staff volunteer their time and expertise to help out on the day and they offer a range of workshops, tours and public speaking training that the pupils find invaluable.

The students embarked on a carousel of tours of the RSA House and workshops led by RSA staff. There were a variety of workshops on offer, topics such as farming, mental health, the RSA’s global influence and research skills were all touched upon in various workshops. One student from Ipsley CE RSA Academy said “…the mental health workshop was amazing and really helped me.”

After the workshops the pupils and staff all returned to hear Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA, speak about the world of work and what the pupils could do to make the world a better place. It’s a message that echoed throughout the day, our pupils want to make the world a better place and have the ability to make it happen. This led into our feedback session where we ask the pupils to anonymously answer three questions. Their responses were informative and heartening. Below are a few:

What do you think is special about the RSA Academies?

It gives young people an opportunity to have a voice and make a change

The schools all seem to work together harmoniously

The RSA is special because it has been running for a very long time

The RSA is cool!

How could the RSA work differently with schools?

I think they could send volunteers from the RSA to come and do different activities with pupils to get the message across that they want to change the world and they need your help to do so.

I think that RSA Academies could have more of a partnership with infant and primary schools surrounding them.

Do more events where we invite students from all the RSA Academies.

What ideas has today given you for things you could do in your own school?

Today I have been inspired to make a change and not sit back. It has also encouraged me to be kinder.

We want to start a farming event!

Encourage creative thinking as well as academic achievement e.g. competitions, games and lessons

Clearly the pupils had been inspired by the RSA and its fantastic staff but now it was the chance for the pupils to show what they had been working on. Each school began preparing for their presentation in front of their peers and the RSA dragons! After a quick public speaking workshop where the schools could fine tune their presentations with RSA Staff it was time for the main event.

Dragons Den

Each school had 5 minutes to present their project to our three ‘dragons’: Penny Egan CBE, Charlotte Eisenhart and Phoebe Williams. All the presentations were well thought out and brilliantly presented, all the pupils did their schools proud.

After much deliberation a winner was chosen, and the winners of the £250 and Takeover Day 2017 were…

Wilkes Green Junior School with No More Lonely! A project aimed at providing company to elderly residents in their area who are at risk of feeling lonely. In a presentation peppered with heart-breaking statistics, 40,000 elderly people in the UK saying they felt socially isolated, Wilkes Green aim to alleviate this loneliness through pen pal style letters and visits to local care homes.  The dragons believed it was a combination of their well-researched presentation, addressing of a key social issue, and feasibility that made their project worth the £250 prize. Andrew Matthews, Deputy Head of Wilkes Green Junior School, said “It was a brilliant day and we can’t wait to implement our project.”

Two runners up prizes of £100 were also awarded to RSA Academy, Tipton and Whitley Academy. RSA Academy, Tipton presented the Gap Lab, a space for students to gain peer support to plug the gaps in their knowledge, whilst Whitley offered their project, Unicycle. The aim of this project is to support less fortunate students that unfortunately cannot afford the cost of uniform. Both are fantastic projects and we hope the £100 prizes will help get them off the ground.

A special mention must go to the other five schools who produced a fantastic array of projects and we hope will implement them despite not winning any seed funding. These included Arrow Vale’s ‘Help for the homeless’ a set of package donations with the necessities for the homeless in their area; Ipsley’s ‘Learning Library’ a place for students to play academic games; Church Hill’s ‘Ready, Set, Grow!’ an outdoor space for students to gain confidence and improve wellbeing; Abbeywood’s ‘Really Splendid Articulation’ an outside area for pupils to gain oracy skills; and Holyhead’s ‘Defend, Amend, Transcend’ a series of self-defence lessons to combat rising levels of assault in the area.

It was a day of collaboration, innovation and inspiration. We are already looking forward to seeing how the projects progress and to seeing the schools come back for Takeover Day 2018! Here’s an little anecdote from the end of the day that encapsulates how even the simplest of social actions can make the world a slightly better place:

As we were all leaving Pizza Hut the students were filling pizza boxes with some of the pizza left from the buffet for the long journey home. One student picked up a slice of pizza and put it into a napkin. When I asked if he would rather put it in a cardboard box he simply replied “No thank you. This is for the homeless man outside.”