Tools Help School Pupils to Imagine University Life

Members of the Leapfrog team recently supported and ran workshops with pupils from local schools, Heysham High and Stepping Stones, a pupil referral primary school, who were visiting Lancaster University to learn about university life and comic art as part of a project called The Comic Project

The Comic Project aims are to explore to what extent and how pupils’ engagement with comic creation relates to their progress in reading and self-​esteem.

Laura and Hayley met with Educational researcher Natasa Lackovic to discuss the aims for the project and how the Leapfrog tools could be used to support workshops with pupils from the two schools. As university life, aspirations and comic books were all themes for the day, Laura and Hayley decided to adapt the Storyboard Contract and Right Words tools to ask the pupils to draw out and write a story where they imagined an adventure at the university in the future.

The starting point for these stories was to provide the pupils with an A2 size storyboard, prompting them to think of two characters that would meet at university and use some pre-​determined university words, such as LICAbuilding, studying and chemistry that were printed on labeled columns on the Right Words sticker template. Laura and Hayley explained the task and showed the older pupils some example simple, compound and complex sentences to encourage them to practice their English skills. In addition to the Storyboard and Right Words tools, we used the Ideas Hexagon cards to help the pupils respond to questions about their perception of universities.

We noticed that each of the 26 pupils who took part in the day engaged with the tools and recorded their thoughts on university life and a future at Lancaster University. When asked what they thought about the tools the pupils said they enjoyed using them and a girl from the travelling community asked if she could take a blank one home to fill in. The teachers were also very complimentary of the tools, asking if they could take some away, therefore we shared information about the Leapfrog website with them.

This was a great opportunity to mix together and adapt different tools and experience using them with limited time to prepare, in a similar way to how many of engagement practitioners use our tools. The day was part of a pilot for the project and therefore we hope our tools will be considered useful for the future project.