Jupiter Artland challenge gives pupils the space to launch new ideas – Kate Latham

Students from West Lothian schools were enthusiastic about the 3D challenge
Students from West Lothian schools were enthusiastic about the 3D challenge
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The last few weeks have been an extremely exciting time for all of us at Jupiter ­Artland. Why? In partnership with the Developing the Young Workforce Regional Group, we are ­bringing a unique 3D design ­challenge to ­secondary schools across West ­Lothian.

An exciting and innovative school-employer partnership which involves all 11 secondary schools in the region, the project will help ­students to ­develop a new set of ­creative and ­critical thinking skills – the core skills that local employers are very much looking for.

Kate Latham, Head of Learning and Community Engagement, Jupiter Artland Foundation

Kate Latham, Head of Learning and Community Engagement, Jupiter Artland Foundation

At Jupiter Artland, the basis for our learning ethos is to provide experiences which supplement and embed aspects of the Curriculum for ­Excellence. You therefore might be wondering – particularly when engagement with local schools is already a core part of what we do – what our key drivers were for embarking on a project of this scale.

We realised that although primary schools were regularly taking up our offer, uptake from our local secondary schools was low. To understand why, we asked DYW to help us bring together a steering group of teachers from expressive arts, business ­support and careers guidance fields.

We were told that resources and timetables made taking students out of school problematic. Teachers also told us students can lack opportunities to work in 3D as part of the ­standard curriculum. In light of the evidence presented to us by the teachers, we felt it was the right decision to think creatively and bring a ‘Jupiter Experience’ out to schools in the form of an outdoor 3D Design Challenge.

Around 855 students from S1 and S2 will benefit from being involved in this project, which is just brilliant as it is 855 pupils who may not otherwise have had the opportunity.

By working creatively in the ­outdoors, learners will experience benefits which go far beyond improving their artistic capability. It has been inspiring to see the students respond with such enthusiasm to the challenge, relishing experimenting with ideas and materials.

Skills such as teamwork, communication, problem-solving and negotiation can all be developed in this ­environment. Wellbeing is also enhanced, and learners who may struggle in formal settings can thrive in the comparative freedom of the outdoors.

We know from talking to teachers how hard it can be to create space for exploration and reflection in the average school day, so we are delighted that the schools have embraced the project. We believe this is a unique opportunity to support the development of employability skills in West Lothian’s young people.

One participating teacher said: “What struck me was how some of our most challenging, ­vulnerable and disadvantaged ­students responded. At one point, I got quite emotional as one pupil was just so animated and excited, pushing himself to present his idea to the ­others. I’d never seen him so engaged.”

The challenge asks students to create a design for a sculpture, event or happening to take place in a specified location in their school grounds. We start with an introductory workshop led by Jupiter Artland, during which pupils work in groups to come up with their own artistic proposals, whilst others explore working with materials to build in 3D. The workshop closes with an exploration of how to respond to an artistic brief and how the design process works.

Following on from the introductory session, the pupils – working in groups or as individuals – create designs to be judged in school by their teachers to create a shortlist. These are then submitted to the learning team at Jupiter Artland who will select a winning design from each school.

The early feedback from the pupils has been extremely positive. One pupil said, “I learnt that mistakes can lead to something better” while another noted, “I learnt the first idea you have isn’t always the best”. A third added: “I learnt that little mistakes can make huge ideas.”

It is so heartening that these pupils are learning life skills such as resilience, creativity and self-reflection, skills which will be vital for them as they progress on their journey towards the world of work.

Arlene Nicol, project liaison officer with DYW West Lothian, said: “We were absolutely delighted when Jupiter Artland reached out to us to support this project. The 3D Design Challenge illustrates how providing students with the opportunity to think creatively can enhance learning and showcases the importance of school-industry partnerships. We are so pleased that all West Lothian schools are taking part in the ­challenge and value the support of Jupiter Artland in this exciting and unique partnership.”

Kate Latham, head of learning and community engagement, Jupiter ­Artland Foundation.