Student workshop to design the visual identity for this summer’s Aspirations Show

Caludon Castle students

Diana Whistance-Smith reviews an original student workshop

Six school students took part in a unique branding workshop at SSAT’s offices in March, competing to design the identity for this summer’s Aspirations Show in Manchester.

The year 10 students from Caludon Castle school, who were competition winners at last year’s Aspirations Show, spent an intensive day working with SSAT’s design team and their peers to come up with the prospective logo for this year’s event.

The workshop involved setting the work scene with SSAT staff, getting students to create moodboards, brainstorm and work collaboratively on logo ideas and supporting them in bringing their ideas to life. It concluded with feedback on students’ designs from head of brand, Mike Jones, which hinted at the more comprehensive evaluations the students received post-workshop from Dan Liggins, lead designer and coordinator of the workshop.

Paul Moffatt, a Caludon Castle PE teacher accompanying the students, saw this workshop as an opportunity for them to develop essential skills that would benefit them both in and out of the classroom.

“I think it opens their eyes to different avenues they can take when they’re older… they’re gaining experiences here that maybe they wouldn’t have had in the school setting,” he said. “It opens their eyes to different opportunities that they may have in the future, especially when they’re making choices about what route they want to take in their career choices.”

The inaugural Aspirations Show focused on six key themes:

  • mastering a subject
  • appreciating culture
  • unleashing creativity
  • utilising technology
  • thinking like an entrepreneur
  • leading .

This year’s show on 1 July will give students the chance to overcome challenges and raise personal aspirations through listening to inspirational speakers and participating in workshops. They will each receive an SSAT Passport at the end of the event to document their real-life milestones.

The takeaways from the workshop and the last year’s event included practical advice and solutions for academic and everyday life, as well as how to build confidence and resilience towards succeeding in future career endeavours.

Aya, a 14-year-old student who took part, felt that the team-building nature of the day brought her out of her shell. “I think it’s helped me build skills such as resilience and teamwork because I’ve had to communicate more with those on my team when working on ideas, for example,” she explained. “Usually, I prefer working on my own. This has helped me prefer working more with others now.” She was surprised to find that she enjoyed working collaboratively and sharing ideas.

Lucy, another 14-year-old participant, also felt that the workshop encouraged her to think ‘outside of the box’: “I’m not really a creative person, I’m more logical… putting my ideas down on paper is a new skill for me, and I’m really enjoying it. I’m trying to work on my creativity… maybe I’ll build on that more and see how it goes.”

Last year’s event hosted 155 students from 10 different schools. Schools were given criteria to assess in deciding which students would benefit most from the event, including lack of confidence or aspiration, disadvantage or underachievement, as well as students with potential.

Some of last year’s sessions had particular impact on students: 82% positively commented on Andy Preston’s “Effectively coping under pressure”, while Alison Oliver’s “How to succeed when faced with challenges” generated 80% overall interest, followed by Hanilee Fish’s “How to build resilience” at 78%.

Daniel, one of the 15-year-old participants, was particularly interested in resilience-building: “I wanted to work on throwing ideas at the paper and not sitting there”, he said. “I’m usually very critical of what I do, so I think ‘I hate that, I hate that’.” After the workshop he found it easier not to give up, instead saying to himself, ‘You might not like it, but leave it there anyway.’

Among the ideas generated by the students for logo designs were Lucy’s lightbulbs symbolising ‘ideas and aspirations’, Aya’s ‘optical illusion cube’ demonstrating various methods of thinking and reflecting, and an original animation concept from Daniel.

With this year’s Aspirations Show, SSAT hopes to see a higher proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds attend. Encouraging greater collaboration between students, responding to student feedback effectively, and rethinking plenary sessions are all areas of hopeful improvement for the upcoming event. We hope that this workshop will prove to be the first step towards effectively bringing these changes to life.

Find out more about this year’s Aspirations Show and book your school’s places.

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