SEAHAM SCHOOL OF TECHNOLOGY 17th June 2016
SEAHAM SCHOOL OF TECHNOLOGY
On Friday, 17th June 2016 the PMNW team arrived at Seaham School of Technology, County Durham for the fifth consecutive year to facilitate their Crime and Safety Awareness Day. On this occasion the event was part-sponsored by the Durham Police and Crime Commissioner Mr. Ron Hogg to which both the school and Prison! Me! No-way! (especially in the current economic climate) are exceptionally grateful.
At 8.45am the Year 9 students entered into the Hall with a mixture of excitement and nervous anticipation but quickly settled for the launch and were informed of the aims and objectives of the day. They then realised that they had become ‘would-be’ prisoners for the day, incarcerated at HMP Seaham.
The carousel of workshops began at 9.15am and 157 students split into 6 ‘wings’ commenced one of their most exciting and memorable days in school.
They all experienced a variety of workshops which consisted of:
1). Street Scene – Ollie Woods and Kath Longstaff led the discussions and role-play to help the students understand the meaning and consequences of anti-social behaviour. As always the setting up of Confrontation Street, a ‘mock’ structure, helped to bring the workshop to life and Ollie played the ‘drunk’ very convincingly. It must be all the practice he has had.
2). Prison Life – an explanation of what happens on a typical day in prison from reception to ‘lights out’ and tour of the mobile cell facilitated by serving prison officers Gary Bewick and Sean Byrne ably assisted by retired prison officer Larry Peacock.
3). Choices and Consequences – this workshop gave the students a unique opportunity to listen to three female inmates from Askham Grange prison near York giving an account of how their lives and that of their families have been turned upside down by the choices they made resulting in prison sentences. Hopefully their stories will have deterred any youngsters from making those wrong choices, sometimes in a split second, the consequences of which could last a lifetime. Prison Officer Graham Holgate must be praised for his continual support of this workshop through his perseverance and determination in not only arranging the inmates to attend but personally bringing them along and leading a very powerful workshop.
4). Police – facilitated by PCSO Sharon Bowman the students were given an eye-opening account of the dangers and consequences of carrying weapons, often possessed by young people under the misconception that they are ‘OK’ as a self-defence mechanism. I wonder how many realised that just by possessing them they were committing a criminal offence?
5). Magistrates – a mock trial was simulated with students encouraged to take an active part in order to fully understand the ‘workings’ of the court on a daily basis. Thanks to Harry Fletcher and Ged Canavan from the Durham Magistrates in the Community Team for facilitating proceedings enabling the students to see how the role of the court fits into the criminal justice system.
6). Northern Power Grid – Bob Knox gave his usual ‘gutsy’ performance with no-holds barred to get the message across about the dangers of electricity. From the initial source of energy generated at the Power Stations through various means to eventually reaching the home. Treated with respect it is not a problem, however, if misused or abused the consequences are frightening.
As the students entered the Hall for the finale they were greeted by the Heather Small song, ‘PROUD’ to which they soon joined in and by the time the last class were seated it had played three times over so they well and truly had it ringing in their ears. It certainly helped to make them think about what they had learned from the day ‘in prison’ and how making the right choices in life was something to which they too could be ‘PROUD’. Prizes were presented to a selected few who had shown a high degree of interest and participation throughout the day which must have been a difficult choice for the teachers as they had all engaged in an enthralling day. The many visitors, staff and students were all thanked as it was through their attitude and determination that the day was such a resounding success. It is through inter-agency working and full support of everyone at the school that makes days such as these so educational and delivers valuable advice on the importance on how taking responsibility for your own actions is crucial for a positive and successful future.
Many thanks to Mrs Evans and Mr Lumsdon for ensuring the event took place this year amid both crucial examinations taking place for the Year 11’s and the impending move to a new school as the current Year 9 cohort would otherwise have lost out on this most valuable and enjoyable learning experience. Many thanks also to the unsung heroes known as site managers, IT support, catering staff and other non-teaching personnel who, as always at Seaham, were fantastic.
We all look forward to returning again next year to the brand new ‘HMP Seaham’.
Phil Wilson – Crime Day Lead and Director of Community Liaison