‘The results always show an increased level of understanding and awareness of the topics explored which is extremely positive and highlights a high level of impact… The team are so flexible, professional and passionate – and I would recommend them to anyone.”
– Georgina Summers, Safeguarding in Education Manager at Gloucestershire Safeguarding Partnership
IGNITE Case Study : Awareness Raising Plays
Georgina (George) Summers is the Safeguarding in Education Manager at Gloucestershire Safeguarding Children Partnership. In her role, George is responsible for delivering traded services to schools across Gloucestershire on general safeguarding and child protection. We spoke to Georgina to find out more about her experiences of working with Narrative Alchemy Co-Artistic Director, Sean McGrath.
How did you first connect with Sean?
I first met Sean in 2011 after my predecessor at Gloucestershire County Council made contact with him following a recommendation. It all started with a play called ‘Chelsea’s Story’, which at that time was called ‘Chelsea’s Choice’. I remember Sean came in to read the play to us before it was delivered in schools, and, even though he was simply reading the lines from a page and not performing it, we were all so moved and could instantly see the impact it would have on the children. Fast forward to 2023, and we have never looked back – we now have Sean and his team in schools across Gloucestershire each and every year.
What year groups do you invite the team into and how many students are in a typical session?
It totally depends on the individual performances that Sean and his team deliver. Firstly, ‘In the Net’, which is centred around an early introduction to sexual exploitation, we target at Year 4 pupils. Some of our primary schools have an extremely small cohort so we invite one school to host the play, and then three other local schools come along to the performance, meaning we get about 300 pupils in each session.
Next, is ‘Chelsea’s Story’ which we target at Year 8 students as it is a continuation of ‘In the Net’ and explores more adult themes. Each school gets its own performance and we offer 48 performances a year across the county – hitting roughly 9,000 young people. We also occasionally have the team in to deliver ‘County Lines’ to our Year 9 students as it raises awareness of child criminal exploitation.
Ultimately, we give schools a choice in which year group each performance is delivered to. For example, if a school felt ‘In the Net’ was more suited to its Year 3 cohort, they have the freedom and autonomy to deliver it to this year group instead.
How are these topics chosen?
The individual topics are mainly chosen through the priorities of the Gloucestershire Safeguarding Children Partnership. However, we do also ask schools for their input and staff often tell us what certain issues or topics they want to focus on so we can respond accordingly. I think all involved really value this joint and flexible approach.
What kind of impact do you see and hear about from the schools following the bookings?
Impact is fairly hard to measure as a lot of the work is preventative, however, Sean does circulate a feedback form to around 1,000 students a year which gauges knowledge pre-performance compared with post-performance. The results always show an increased level of understanding and awareness of the topics explored which is extremely positive and highlights a high level of impact. A student will also make a disclosure to a member of Sean’s staff after almost every performance. Sean’s team are highly trained and work with Safeguarding Leads in schools to ensure this is properly followed up and dealt with.
Do you have plans to continue the momentum and work with Sean in the future?
We absolutely do. We are certainly planning on continuing our programme of existing performances and are now exploring the possibility to deliver a new performance called ‘Breaking the Chain’ following a number of recent knife crime incidents across Gloucestershire. Sean and the team are so flexible, professional and passionate – and I would recommend them to anyone.