Thrive – Working with Service children on aspiration raising activity

Case Studies

Late last year, we ran the pilot of a programme called Thrive, which aimed to engage a group of Service children in a series of progressive and sustained activities; developing a better understanding of pathways to and benefits of higher education, as well as working on transferable skills.
Thrive was a three-day programme with the first two days taking place a Vision West Nottinghamshire College and the last day taking place a University of Nottingham. 28 learners from three schools in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire joined the programme, ranging from Year 7 to Year 9.

Day One

An introduction by the DANCOP team was followed by teamwork exercises to get the learners familiarised with each other. We made sure to mix up school groups and get them out of their comfort zone! Between building towers out of spaghetti, drawing portraits of the team and creating something for the presenter to wear, learners quickly got comfortable with their groups and had a good time. This was then followed by a campus tour, where they got the opportunity to see the different study spaces and specialist facilities both at the college and the post-16 provision from Nottingham Trent University next door. Learners were given information about pathways, starting with a session about GCSE options facilitated by the DANCOP team, and a session about further education options delivered by the VWNC staff. To end the day, learners took part in an exercise to differentiate studying at a sixth form and college.

Day Two

The second day of the programme revolved around transferable skills. A third-party provider Commando Joe’s ran four hours of physical workshops revolving around resilience, teamwork and communication; this provider was chosen due to the trainers’ background in UK Armed Forces. Learners had a great time teaming up to conquer various missions, solve puzzles and guide each other through obstacle courses.

Day Three

University of Nottingham staff delivered a session “Why go into higher education”, followed by a campus tour of the different university facilities . Learners took part in an activity to design their own university campus using everything they learned so far, followed by a creative exercise to indicate their future plans and aspirations. The day ended with a Q & A session with student ambassadors, where the young people had a chance to ask any burning questions about student life.


Learner Feedback

Can you tell us one thing you’ve learnt about yourself from this activity?
“What I need to do for school in order to get the qualifications for my dream job”
“There’s a few good courses I can take to achieve what I want in the future, which has made me more confident”
“How to speak to people and how to deal with stuff better”
“I can be resilient when I try”

School Feedback
“There has been a great conversation out of school and parents have been in touch to say thank you. Behaviour has been excellent, in comparison to school. Pupils have developed their communication skills and managed to work with other schools.”

“A fantastic programme that [the school] are very grateful for. Thank you for all the work you do and the opportunities you are providing for our students.”

Next Steps

There are just over 600 secondary school age Service children across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, often spread in small numbers over a large number of schools, so whilst recruitment for the programme was a challenge, the feedback we received from learners, parents and teachers alike has proven the programme was effective in what it aimed to achieve. Moving forward, we will be working closely with the Nottinghamshire County Council, the Army Welfare Service and the SCiP Alliance to identify further opportunities to support Service children.

If you’re looking to explore how your school can support Service learners, the Service Children’s Progression Alliance have introduced the Thriving Lives toolkit, which provides schools with a framework of 7 principles through which to reflect on their practice and a 3-tier set of CPD resources.

Blog content written by Karolina Tauer