TheatreWorks - case study

Working with The Royal Exchange Theatre, and Our Lady's RC High School Manchester, we have re-evaluated the programme in order to increase the impact on the beneficiaries.

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Kate Reynolds: Theatreworks is a project that the Royal Exchange run with Our Lady's High School in Blackley, supported by PwC and it's a project that looks at aiming to equip young people with skills and knowledge that will support them in future employability.

Fiona Kelsey: This seemed a really good way of working with school children to help them develop some skills which would help them in the employment market but in a really different and fun way whilst supporting the Royal Exchange as well.

James Keulemans: We have a very mixed school. We have about 600 to 700 students at any one time and our catchment is very broad. So, we have students from a wide range of abilities, wide range of backgrounds, wide range of cultures.

Stephen Hogan: Our intention is that the students will gain a better understanding of the world of work, about the world around them. That they'll maybe be more confident, that they'll have developed some skills that they'll take outside of that programme and then they'll carry on developing. And also hopefully we hope it does something for their motivation, and their aspirations.

Paul Hine: Theatre Works was originally about exploring theatre as an industry. But then we opened it out to use the skills and art forms involved in theatre to explore the world of work and, in particular, for the young people to explore what they were interested in in terms of their future careers.

Kate Reynolds: PwC support us financially to deliver the project but they also work really closely with us to look at how we evaluate and reflect on the impact of the project. So, we work with PwC consultants who've developed an evaluation strategy.

Stephen Hogan: When we did surveys with the students last year we found that some of the results that were coming out were not maybe as good as we would have wanted them to be. They weren't bad, but they weren't maybe as impactful as we had hoped.

Paul Hine: So, this time round we had much more clear understandable accessible vision for them to buy into.

James Keulemans: From the school’s point of view it has been very, very successful. If you look at the whole group of students who have been involved in it and you can see how their attitude has changed as a group, but, within that, you have very specific students where you can see big changes in terms of their attitude towards their work.

Stephen Hogan: What we're really interested in is that the students who take part don't just have a good experience while they're on the programme but they get long-term lasting benefits in terms of the development and the skills that they gain while they're on the programme.

Leighton Currie (student): I enjoyed it because it was something different and it’s something I’ve never done before. I enjoyed it because like it taught me like other things to do in life.

Eleanor Carney (student): When I’m older I want to run my own business, but I don’t know what in. But, seeing all these people who own their own business has given me like ideas of what to do.

Leighton Currie (student): It opens your mind abit about stuff for the future.

James Keulemand: The value of having the three different partners gives us an opportunity for the students to see how people work in partnership in the real world.

Kate Reynolds: Our Lady's are really supportive in terms of identifying the right cohort of students to take part and then making sure that logistics run really smoothly. At the Royal Exchange, obviously we've got practitioners and theatre professionals who are really skilled in their specific areas of work. Then for PwC it's really about them bringing an analytical head and a numbers heads, and looking at how we can really look at the impact of the project and then report that back, and show the value of the work in the best way that we can.

Stephen Hogan: I think the brilliant thing now is that we've got a really strong partnership between PwC, the Royal Exchange Theatre and Our Lady's School and that means we can have honest discussions and open discussions about where the programme can be even better than it was this year. I know the theatre and the school have got some really interesting ideas about how they want to take that programme further into the coming years and we're there to support them all the way.

Sarah Cooke: It gets better year-on-year. We’re very grateful for the support of PwC and long may it continue.

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Bridget Jackson
Head of Corporate Sustainability
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