This year, the RSA decided to take part in the nationwide Takeover Day for the first time, inviting 60 academies students through its doors to ‘take over’ the RSA. The aim of Takeover Day is to give young people the chance to get involved in organisations and have their opinions heard, so we asked all students to think about the following questions throughout the day: ‘what have you seen/learnt the RSA do well?’, ‘what should the RSA do differently?’, and ‘what ideas has this morning given you about things you could do in your school?’.
The programme kicked off at 10.30am, with an introduction to the RSA going through how the different departments worked. The students then had the opportunity to meet the RSA staff, with an interactive icebreaker ran by RSA Academy’s Arvind Batra and a staff meeting, which provided insight into the day to day running of the organisation. Volunteering staff then took groups on a tour of the building and delivered workshops on different aspects of the RSA – from Events, to Fellowship, to the Action and Research Centre.
Students were also invited to give feedback to the questions we asked at the beginning of the day. Many were impressed with the history and grandeur of the RSA building and enjoyed the various spaces with comfy sofas and free wifi dotted around, with suggestions that this should be available back at the schools. However, it was also recommended that the RSA should put on more events for young people and that some of art displayed could be by academies students.
The afternoon sessions saw the students split into their 5 schools, as each had been asked beforehand to develop an idea for a community or school project to present on the day to a dragons’ den panel for a cash prize. The groups had the opportunity to hone their presentations during workshops with RSA staff members before each pitching their idea in 3 minutes to the panel of judges.
It was a tough competition, with all schools presenting confidently on very worthwhile projects. Yet there could only be one winner and the judges chose Arrow Vale to receive the £500 cash prize for their idea to run a school club teaching pupils how to recycle old clothes through mending. However, the judges also decided to award a second-place prize of £200 to Ipsley for their recycling proposal and £100 to the three runners-up (Holyhead, Whitley and RSA Academy, Tipton), so all 5 schools have the chance to kick-start their project and turn their ideas into action.
All in all, Takeover Day at the RSA was thoroughly enjoyable for the Family of Academies students and the RSA staff – so much so, that we hope to be able to do it again next year!Related project: RSA8 Student Leadership Programme