Barton Seagrave pupils get involved with launch of annual County Schools Challenge

Shaun Johnson from the arson task force with students from Latimer Arts College
Shaun Johnson from the arson task force with students from Latimer Arts College

Unhealthy relationships and child sexual exploitation (CSE) were the themes for students at Latimer Arts College in Barton Seagrave during their launch of this year’s County Schools Challenge.

The aim of the 2016 County Schools Challenge is to encourage pupils across Northamptonshire to come up with an enterprising idea about how to help other young people understand what a healthy relationship should be and where to turn when relationships become unhealthy or abusive.

Each participating school has its own launch, in which they introduce the idea of the challenge to their pupils before sending students off to work on business plans in groups.

Later this year a semi-final and final will be held, featuring teams from schools across the county, culminating in an appearance at the Lighthouse Theatre in Kettering before a Dragons Den style panel of experts who will pick the overall winning idea.

To coincide with this week’s launch, teachers at Latimer Arts College organised for students to see a play called Chelsea’s Choice, which focuses on CSE themes.

Chelsea’s Choice is a hard-hitting theatre project, run by AlterEgo Creative Solutions, which is designed to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation.

The play tells the story of three students who find the diary of a young girl called Chelsea.

Chelsea meets an older man called Gary and soon discovers he is not what he seemed to be.

AlterEgo Creative Solutions have been commissioned by Northamptonshire County Council and the Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children Board to tour Northamptonshire secondary schools with this production.

The play links in with one potential subject area that could be explored by students focusing on this year’s County Schools Challenge.

Assistant principal Jyoti Pankhania said: “When I saw this year’s theme, I thought it was perfect.

“Our young people are always up for a challenge and the head boys and girls have already come up with some ideas.

“I also thought it would be great for them to meet young people at other schools and take part in something countywide.

“I felt that the theme was right and fits in with everything we are teaching young people about safeguarding and looking after themselves.”

To help with the in-school launch of County Schools Challenge, Shaun Johnson from the joint Arson Taskforce (Northamptonshire Police and Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service) gave a talk to more than 100 pupils at the school about this year’s theme and the background of the challenge.

He said: “I know the different schools taking part in the challenge are approaching the theme of healthy relationships in different ways.

“One school is focusing on friendships and the impact on school life when friendships break down.

“Latimer Arts College are approaching the subject focusing on CSE – which, of course, involves unhealthy relationships which are extremely damaging situations to be in.

“This year’s theme has relevance in so many aspects of young people’s lives and I look forward to seeing the ideas that each school comes up with later this year.”

For updates on the County Schools Challenge, go to Facebook and like the County Schools Challenge page at Challenge or follow them on Twitter @ncsc_challenge.