Countywide initiative aims to stimulate interest in higher education
A 12-month programme to create opportunities for young people who wouldn't usually consider higher education has seen pupils from Blackpool and Wyre high schools continue to develop their digital and creative skills.
Fleetwood High School and South Shore Academy students, recruited and supported by Future U, attended arts workshops at Blackpool and the Fylde College and the Grand Theatre in Blackpool, as part of a specially organised nationwide week of action. They worked on digital portfolios ahead of a public exhibition they have project managed which will be held on 8 July.
Future U, a £2.2 million Lancashire initiative, is led by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and involves institutions and organisations across the county including Edge Hill University, Lancaster University and the University of Cumbria. It has been funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) as part of its £60 million National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP).
The feedback from students has been extremely promising, and to hear them say ‘I am going to study music’ or ‘I am going to study fashion design’ is very encouraging.
The pupils have been attending workshops and participating in activities on subjects including performing arts, photography and fashion as they work towards a creative and digital Silver Arts Award.
The award was funded by Future U who recruited and supported the young people through the journey, and developed by the Grand Theatre, which tailored a new Digital Arts Award delivered by staff from Blackpool and the Fylde College to enable students to gain knowledge and experience in a chosen field within a creative industry.
NCOP is a national network of local partnerships which provides higher education outreach to young people from Years nine to 13 in areas across England where higher education participation is lower than expected.
29 networks of schools, colleges, higher education providers and local agencies work together to create activities tailored to the needs of their own area.
Dr Lynne Livesey, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at UCLan, said: “It’s incredibly important to encourage and facilitate young people’s aspirations and help them explore the options available through higher education in the pursuit of a career within the creative sector. The Future U programme is helping to inspire and educate and it’s wonderful to see how the pupils are benefitting."
The Grand’s programme has given the young people a rich source of material to draw from as well as some new cultural experiences.
Andrew Walker, Lecturer in Creative Media Production at Blackpool and the Fylde College, said: “It’s programmes like this that open young people’s eyes to a future in the creative industries. At this point in students’ lives the spark for the arts needs to be nurtured and as time progresses this will become a fully-fledged creative fire. From what I have seen during these sessions the creative future is in safe hands."
Celine Wyatt, Head of Creative Learning at Blackpool Grand Theatre, said: “We are delighted to be working with Future U to develop a new Silver Digital Arts Award for Blackpool’s young people. This is a really strong collaborative project working with Blackpool and the Fylde College, Future U and the team at the Grand to offer real world digital experiences and gaining an arts award at the same time. At the centre is our joint commitment to improving the lives of our local young people and supporting them in their learning journey.”
*Main picture from l-r: Gemma Nightingale, Tia Nelson, Tara Poole, Lauren Southern, Kasey Lovelock, Eve Slater-Coughlan and Phil Fairhurst