How does an organisation that goes into schools to work with young people, teachers and mentors, continue in the face of a pandemic that requires us all to work from home, socially distance and exist in bubbles? By thinking “Out of the Box” of course – and that’s exactly what we’ve done!
We know this school year will be particularly challenging for teachers and students alike, so we’ve worked hard to prepare ways for our STEM enrichment programme to be run as simply, flexibly and smoothly as possible in any school.
We agreed we wouldn’t go back into schools before January 2021, and from then we’d monitor what the national, local, and individual school situations were like. So, we needed to find a way for schools to start the programme before January, and a contingency plan from January onward if school visits are still restricted.
We needed to think ‘Out of the Box’.
That’s why we’ve developed BOX, the Big Ideas Day Out of the Box. It enables schools to run the Big Ideas Day themselves, without S4TP or mentors attending in person. The teachers running the day get additional training, and the materials include clear Teacher Notes, a step-by-step guide to running the day, moving seamlessly from one activity to the next. We’ve even included videos of Jen in the presentation, where she explains sections of the day or reasons for doing a particular activity.
The BOX we send to the school includes everything that’s needed for the day, including a USB-stick, so all the teachers need to do is print and prepare. We also send Ecolutions biros, glue sticks and coloured marker pens, which are supplied by our product partner BIC. To ensure the day runs smoothly, we go through the BOX guide with the lead teacher(s) on a call before the day, and then provide a dedicated virtual S4TP team member on the day for any questions or guidance.
For teams that want to develop their Big Ideas beyond the day and enter our Big Ideas Competition 2021, their development sessions will start off without visitors attending the school. We’ve added new items to our support resources, again providing clear Teacher Notes, and made them easily accessible to all the teachers and mentors. We can’t wait until we can come back into schools with our mentors, but until then, there’s our online forum so teachers, mentors, and students can all communicate easily with each other (all safeguarding policies adhered to). We’ll also be facilitating video calls between mentors and their teams during development sessions in schools, with teachers present of course.
Our first ever BOX – Big Ideas Day Out of the Box is being held today, Monday 23rd November, at Perton Middle School, Wolverhampton, and we can’t wait to speak to the teachers and find out how it went!
Always being creative, always moving forward, always finding solutions and never giving up. That sums up our students, our teachers, our partners, and the Solutions for the Planet team in a nutshell. Thank you all for coming on this journey with us.
Written by Sarah Milburn, Programme Manager
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Solutions for the Planet Ltd