Ensuring that the plan was adopted by all
It was crucial that all stakeholders in the Dunbar Community saw this as their plan. To achieve this we planned a number of launch days, starting with one for school staff. The Catering Company organised a lunch and we used one of our Friday afternoon CAT sessions to present the plan to all staff. All staff were then invited to sign up to one or more of the companies. The afternoon was introduced by Paul Raffaelli, Head Teacher, and then the original company leaders presented the detail of each company.
We emphasised that staff could join any company as a leader, helper or indeed as a learner. This notion of participants being leaders or learners was to play an important part in the development of the project and would contribute directly to the increased capacity for learning and change within the staff.
The presentation was a great success, leading to the majority of staff getting involved with at least one company. We invited those who did not show immediate interest to give us some other ideas.
We then turned to the students and launched the programme to each year group in a similar fashion. We asked students to sign up to specific areas of interest in each company. For example, those who were interested in the theatre company could select acting, make-up, backstage, lighting, writing etc. We then created a database of all students’ returns. This has enabled us to identify groups of students who have particular interests and to focus on them when we are given opportunities from outwith the school.
One such example was an approach made by East Lothian Arts Service to give students the opportunity to write, act and direct a film on a community issue. Instead of advertising this across the school and running the risk of students who are already confident or experienced coming forward, we identified students who had expressed an interest in the film company.
This was a new experience for these students and the results were impressive, culminating in a showing of the film at the Brunton Hall and a mini ‘Oscar’ ceremony. Parents and Guidance teachers were particularly pleased by the involvement of a number of quiet students who had previously been reluctant to volunteer.
Another example was a very small group of students who initially felt that there was nothing in the plan for them. By meeting this group individually we were able to help individuals to see how they might get involved in a way which interested them, say through photography or working with technology. Allowing all involved to see the range of activities covered by creative and performing arts was vital as a number of students staff and others initially thought only about the actual performers to begin with.
The final group we needed to involve was the wider community. To this end we had a very successful launch evening to which we invited local dignitaries, business people and parents along with representatives of other agencies connected with the school. The only disappointing aspect of the evening was the relatively small number of volunteers as we had asked people to sign up to the companies in the same way as students. As the project progressed had to find increasingly inventive ways of involving the wider community.