This last half term our Lower Sixth have been engaged in Campaign Challenge. It is an opportunity for the girls to work together in small teams to promote a social cause they feel strongly about. The causes vary widely, from sustainability, period poverty, loneliness in elder generations, male abuse, child neglect, mental health and challenging stereotypes.
Before they embarked on their campaign they researched people’s views, by carrying out a survey, to understand the school’s awareness of particular social issues. They need to consider what would be relevant to their target audience, and how to develop messages that would stand out from the crowd. Based on their findings they put together a campaign and then launched it in a school assembly. Throughout the following weeks, they undertook initiatives around the school to promote their cause, further raising awareness in and beyond the school community.
I have been extremely impressed. The campaigning has been powerful, clever and thought provoking. They have used the space of the school creatively to stop people in their tracks to make them think. Installations have been put up around the school, one in the shape of a whale made up of plastics found lying around the school. Another was a living exhibit, sitting alone, ignored, in the iCreate space, to highlight the plight of the loneliness of elderly people. Silhouettes of small children stuck on the wall, featureless, to stress the damage of neglect in our community, other messages and petitions on walls drawing attention to the damage of prescription drugs or the presence of male abuse.
The students have supported their campaigns using social media and email to staff and students to extend awareness, some are so inspired by their issues that they are planning events to support awareness, beyond the official campaign framework.
The value of these campaigns is immense. The lesson learnt invaluable. The voices of many of the girls have been heard. Their Sixth Form education does not exist in a bubble. Education to me is not just about the final examinations, it is about how the girls can use their many skills to make a difference to world in which they are living.
This world is uncertain, complicated and volatile and the more we equip them with a toolkit the more adept and comfortable they will be in dealing with it. Campaign Challenge is a powerful way of honing the skills whilst at the same time raising the school’s awareness of complex social issues.