Manor High School is a community school for 10 – 14 year olds in the Oadby district of Leicester. In September 2010 it teamed up with an organisation called The Mighty Creatives who are funded by Arts Council England’s Creative Partnerships program to develop a creative approach to teaching and learning in schools. The Mighty Creatives sent Creative Agent Andrew Fox into Manor High to talk with teachers and a team of young consultants in order to find out what creative project with artists could most help the school.
The school were keen to commission a project that would strengthen their Student’s input into the running of the school. In turn, the students were keen to commission a project which would change their relationship with their teachers, forcing them to work together on a more equal footing as part of a team. The idea of an orienteering adventure was popular. Senior Staff were keen that the project would also develop the student’s Personal Learning and Thinking Skills (PLTS).
To help shape and deliver this project Andrew Fox recruited Stan’s Cafe, a theatre company from Birmingham with a long history of creative work in schools. Initially Artistic Director James Yarker worked with the Young Consultants imagining what the project could be like, who may participate in it and where it might happen. In order to learn about Stan’s Cafe the Young Consultants travelled to Birmingham to see one of their shows. The orienteering idea developed to become two days of challenges that would each require different kinds of creative thinking and team work. It was decided that all of Year 7 would participate in their form groups with their teachers; each form would undertake two challenges on each of two days and each challenge would last two hours.
After a long session of debate the title Mission Just Possible was finally agreed upon. It was hoped this twisting of the famous TV Series/Film title Mission Impossible would make the project sound ambitious, adventurous and fun.
For the project to work eight Creative Challenges were required. A long list of possibilities was draw up and discussed by the Young Consultants. Attention was paid to including a variety of challenges that would test groups in different ways and appeal to students with different interests. Once the challenges were agreed upon an artistic team with appropriate skills and experience was recruited by Stan’s Cafe. These artists worked with the Young Consultants exploring the details and practicalities of each challenge. A final list of requirements was eventually passed to Ian Wilson, Assistant Head Teacher at Manor High for him to work out the logistics of how it could all fit into the school and its timetable.