Dawn House School Pupil Participation Conference 2013 Student Workshop

You always get more out of Opportunity than Fear…

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The annual Pupil Participation Conference at Dawn House School this year was a little bit different, a bit of a risk that more than paid off. The usual format of seminars was moved aside to make way for a short performance of Marshmallow Sky, an exceptionally insightful play penned by the school’s very own Alan Dawson.

Both adult and student delegates watched the play – and the message sent out by the play was not lost by either group. The play focused on a young man with SLCN who was called Graeme. Marshmallow Sky took the notion that if you have a Speech, Language or Communication difficulty you may not succeed in life and threw that idea straight out. Our young people were empowered by Graeme’s story – it showed them that with the right support, the right opportunities they can succeed; in education, in work and in their relationships. Student comments afterwards included ‘that felt like watching me’, showing just how aware the writer is and adult delegates became choked up, recognising young people they have worked within the main character Graeme.

The play was followed by 4 sessions ran by external hosts, each picking up on the themes of the play. Each workshop embedded within the students that if you try, you can succeed.

We had workshops from the School’s Workshop Company, a short workshop focusing on problem solving and team-building, and from Barclays Bank who concentrated on confidence building. In the Barclays session, students finished on a metaphorical task, they were given two words, Fear and Opportunity, and they were asked to make as many words as they could out of each – a simple task with a mammoth meaning behind it. On leaving this workshop students kept repeating ‘You will always get more out of Opportunity than fear’ and ‘that means you need to take the opportunities given to you, even if you are scared’.

This idea was reinforced further by closing words from ex pupil, Ben Mitchell – who is currently studying Drama at the University of Hull. Ben talked about the opportunities given to him throughout his career at Dawn House School, many of which he said that he would not have had without the school, and the support he had been given to enable him to reach his goal. Hearing about Ben’s experiences, again showed student delegates that there were opportunities available to them.

Towards the end of the day, many students commented ‘I’d love to be like Ben and Graeme’ – we could not ask for a better appraisal of the day!

All in all, another successful Pupil Participation Conference!

By Natalie Ward, Dawn House School Nursing Auxiliary