July 25, 2016
Spotlight: Heath Mount’s Big Transition (Part 2)
At One Day, our mission is to empower young people around the UK through creative education. Our single day workshops allow us to work intensely with a group of children, but sometime we have the opportunity to work much more in-depth with a school.
This is exactly what we did with Heath Mount Primary School in Birmingham – one of our Reward Schools – at the end of this summer term. The focus? To deliver a bespoke, three-week transition project for their Year 6s classes, culminating in an almighty trio of leavers performances at the end. You can read all about this unique journey and the performances in our previous blog post here.
But as you can imagine, longer projects such as these require a huge amount of planning, creativity and co-ordination. We spoke to our Lead Facilitator, Sam, in between the final performances to find out exactly what goes in to delivering such a venture.
Q: Hi Sam! First things first, how do you start to approach a longer-term project such as this?
A: It’s important to meet with the children who are partaking before the process even begins. We want to sit them down, explain what the project is going to be, and start a big brainstorming session. Within no time they were getting all their ideas out and we were frantically scribbling everything down on paper! As a team, they picked their best ideas and began putting them together into scenes. Soon, a story began to emerge – it’s our job to encourage that narrative to the foreground – and that’s how we put together the script for the performance.
Q: How important is it to speak to the schools and teachers before you start?
A: It is an organic process, but that’s because at One Day we’re very holistic – we like that open working environment where everybody is involved. It’s very important to find out what the school wants from the project, and what they themselves can bring to it. At the end of the day it’s their project and we’re there to facilitate that. We want to make sure it happens and make it brilliant!
Q: What is the focus of a transition-based workshop? Is there anything in particular you have in mind when working with the Year 6 children?
A: For the three weeks that I had the children, their class teachers had new classes, so the Year 6s were in this strange kind of limbo stage – no longer Year 6 but not quite Year 7! We created the documentary film so that the Year 6s could give something back to the rest of the school. The tips and advice they provided was their way of helping the younger years and helping them form knowledge. The focus of the performance is more on them as individuals – letting everyone know about their secret talents and celebrating their time together.
Q: Whose idea was the documentary film?
A: The school knew they wanted the documentary and the performance. But again we brainstormed with the pupils to find out what they wanted to do. We got Flapjack Films in to get interviews with the children and film certain scenes. There were cameras and booms everywhere – it was great and they loved it!
Q: Does everything stick to a schedule or is there a bit of on-the-day improvisation?
A: The way I’ve structured the lessons, it’s not just me directing and instructing them all the time. It’s a collaboration between One Day and the Year 6s from Heath Mount. In fact it’s exactly like a theatre company – we’re constantly cutting, changing and improving! They actually created all of the time-travel scenes themselves. That’s their work, their memories, their ideas. I just listened, wrote it all down and helped them weave it together. It all comes from them, with a little facilitation from us.
Q: How is it for you watching those final performances?
A: Very emotional! I first met these Year 6s back in December where we had a fabulous day with multiple facilitators working with multiple classes across the school. So I’ve known them since then, but this three weeks really allows you to get to know all the different characters, what they care about, what they get up to at home. Watching them create this journey through a performance is just lovely to see in action. So yes I think I’m probably going to blub tonight! They’ve put so much effort into it and they should know what a wonderful job they’ve done.
Q: How have the children reacted to the project? have any themes emerged?
A: I think the majority of this year group are quite vocal, so all the themes were things they were already talking about in the playground. The ’20 years in the future’ topic came up a lot – many of us had no idea some of the children wanted to be doctors and teachers! We went on this journey from not knowing what they want to be when they leave secondary school, to realising their ambitions. So we were having a bit of fun and all of a sudden it got quite emotional and in-depth! The memories we used in the final performances were real memories from their time at school – they actually did learn brushing their teeth in Year 1! I think the main theme was honesty – when they stood there they meant everything they said.
Q: Is it sometimes hard to leave at the end of a project like this?
A: Hopefully we’ll be coming back to Heath Mount Primary School, but obviously this Year 6 group will have moved on by then. I think in this line of work and what our jobs are at One Day, we are so passionate that we genuinely give each group our hearts – that is 100% the most we can ever give. So sometimes I find it hard to leave after just one day! You do get invested in them for that moment in time, but I suppose it’s a bit like Mary Poppins: there’s always a time to move on to the next school!
If you are interested in One Day leading a bespoke, tailored project at your school, please get in touch! We are happy to answer any questions you might have, and welcome the opportunity to work even more closely with schools and children across the UK.