17 older people (aged between 59 and 81) and 17 Primary 7 pupils were involved. While some had previous experience of intergenerational working, they were all brought together for an introductory session with the drama teacher who then worked with the groups for three sessions to stimulate discussion and improvisation. He also worked separately with the young people for one session to help build confidence. Each session was filmed, and it became obvious that it was becoming an enjoyable and more equitable exchange of ideas as the sessions progressed. A DVD and a small booklet, ‘Conversations and Wise Words’ was produced. Three older adults will continue to be involved in the work of the school.
Angus Gold is a service working with older people within the Angus Council’s Community Learning and Development (CLD) Service. They were approached by the Head Teacher of Andover Primary School who was keen to encourage community involvement and was flexible about how this could be achieved. A wide-ranging discussion, involving the Head Teacher, the Angus Gold drama group, P7 pupils and the Carnoustie Gold Forum resulted in the project’s development. It complemented existing school targets, especially around the work involved in the Curriculum for Excellence, as well as targets the drama group had set. It also followed up well from a previous intergenerational dance project in 2009.
The older adults felt they were out of touch with how schools function now and were eager to gain more understanding, especially as some were involved in supporting grandchildren through their schooling.
The Head Teacher was keen to expand the children’s view of the world and to raise aspiration levels. The project also tied in well with the transition process to secondary school.
- The additional session with the young people was vital to build confidence. It was a high energy process and required a concentrated effort.
- On reflection it would have been better earlier in the school year when the benefits could have been built on over the course of the year.
- A smaller group would have been easier to manage. However, it has provided skills and experience for future intergenerational work and has endorsed the value of a mutual learning approach.
The older adults said that the experience had opened their eyes.
“Young people have problems and worries to cope with in just the same way that adults do. Their worries may be different, but they are just as real.”
The children reported that they felt valued by the group and were encouraged working one to one with an adult. They were eager to learn about the lives of the Gold members. It was insightful for them to learn that older people too had fears and sometimes felt shy. The young people were ready to listen and share ideas, particularly as the group progressed. They were keen to meet again as they had had fun and it had broadened their horizons.
The project was awarded a Good Practice Award by the Scottish Learning Partnership under the ‘Determined to Succeed’ scheme.