This article is a reflection on the process and delivery of the 'Be the Boss' programme funded by The School Games (B2022). This programme was delivered to 3 alternative provisions across East Lancashire engaging with 21 students across KS3. Below we have captured feedback from teaching staff and pupils, as well as our reflections and experiences we took from the process.
First Session ‘Meet and Greet’
Active Lancashire to meet with the pupils to explain the research project and ask questions to build a quick understanding of the young people’s interests. This session involved using coffee cups and post it notes to get answers to simple questions around their perception of physical activity, motivations and barriers.
The initial session using the coffee cups proved to be a great ice breaker. A bribe and a distraction while we extracted information from the young people, giving us time to get to know them, and overhear conversations between them and their peers. It allowed pupils to become more comfortable in our presence, to get an idea of what we planned to do in the next 2 sessions and prevented them being too suspicious of us! The information received at this stage was simple but important to find out the individual’s thoughts and feelings around physical activities in a casual environment.
Amount of space to write on coffee cups, ensuring that the young people used the correct cup, storage of the used cups, risk of the cup being thrown away, legibility, cost.
Responses predominately included words such as:
Second Session ‘Interactive Interviews’
Active Lancashire to conduct individual interviews with the pupils to delve deeper into their interests, motivations, and barriers. These interviews were conducted at the same time as being engaged in an activity such as a game of pool, a walk around the school grounds, table tennis etc.
This second meeting worked really well in most instances. Getting the young person involved in an activity while having an informal chat was really key in developing the conversations around their own thoughts and feelings. It gave us time to talk with the young people in more detail about their own situations, physical activity habits, motivations and barriers. We are able to create a relaxed, active environment which was conducive in facilitating these conversations.
Ethical reasons - not able to record these conversations and capture all the information which we were presented with.
Reliance on memory and pulling those key pieces of information out.
Behaviours of the pupils – some pupils were more willing to engage than others.
Venue and facilities – the resources available to facilitate activities.
Requirement of more staff to complete the interviews on a 121 basis in the allocated time.
Third session 'Be The Boss’
The ‘Be the Boss’ workshop - pupils will start to plan a sport or physical activity session they would like to deliver – looking at feasibility, budget, transport etc.
The final stage proved to be the most challenging. By this point we had met students and staff but being able to allow them to fully ‘Be the Boss’ didn’t really happen in any of the three settings for a number of reasons. We still feel that this would be a valuable way to deliver engagement particularly in Alternative Provision but it needs to be tailored a little more specifically for each different location and for the individual group.
Reasons we found this limited were:
The required use of a laptop
Concentration of pupils
Safety limitations of activities chosen by the students
The Classroom environment
Continuity of the same pupils – certainly a niche for PRU schools working to re-integrate pupils into mainstream again.
Looking back over the process, we feel that we have learnt a great deal about designing and delivering Creative Engagements and the opportunities it can create for engaging alternative provisions. The Road Map was essential in providing a framework to the outcomes for each session. While we found restrictions at each stage, being flexible, adaptable and open to the environment enabled us to work effectively. Engaging in this way with the young people is certainly not a quick method however, rather than requesting a completion of a survey (whether this be online or paper), the engagement, the depth of the information, relationships that were formed with the pupils, schools staff and the learning involved at each stage was infinitely more valuable than that of a survey.
What would we change?
The final stage – the Be the Boss activity would need to be adapted a little more to enhance this process- taking it out of a classroom, enabling young people to use other wireless technology to research such as a phone or an IPad. Removing staff members so young people feel able to ultimately ‘Be the Boss’ or to request staff who do not usually teach those young people sit in – perhaps a teaching assistant or member of office staff if this was a requirement. It would also be interesting to also take this a step further – the students themselves could be involved in the booking process and be the ones contacting the venue, requesting invoice, booking a minibus etc. and this could be integrated into their lesson plans. It would also be interesting to see whether the young people would prefer to do this session with an activity (such as the skiing) attached to it as per the previous sessions and / or music playing in the background to create a less ‘school’ type environment. We also feel that it would be beneficial to develop a library of creative engagement tools and methods to enable us to work most effectively in each environment and with the groups of pupils to ensure that each session maintains a creative feel and move away from the traditional flipcharts.