College students showing off their finished design.

Concept and aims

North Staffordshire CRP wanted a fresh approach to their new line guide for 2019 – 20. When the local sixth form college approached the community rail officer to offer graphics BTEC work experience students it was clearly a good opportunity of mutual benefit. The additional offer of a film project allowed the partnership to work with film makers of a similar age to the target audience, to make a product more relevant and engaging than might otherwise be expected.

 

What happened

Getting creative!

An initial meeting with the college work experience coordinator was followed by a discussion with the college’s curriculum manager for creative and digital arts. The brief and timescales were then agreed and the students selected.

During the first meeting with the students the purposes of the line guide and the rail safety film were outlined and the project briefs were explained. Two local British Transport Police PCSOs attended and led an interactive session with the students. One student per group volunteered to be the principle contact with the partnership officer.

 

Line guide project

The graphics students were supplied with information about timetables, local attractions and other information sources which they incorporated into their own design for a 10 page roll fold leaflet. They travelled by train on two Saturdays in March to visit the attractions and to take photographs.  The first draft, which was mainly to approve the overall design, was presented to the community rail officer and to East Midlands Trains stakeholder & community rail manager. Subsequent drafts were submitted by email and comments returned by email.

 

Rail safety film project

The film students aimed to produce a two minute rail safety film aimed at 14 – 18 year olds (the most common trespass group), to be shared with local schools during Rail Safety Week 2019.  They decided to base their film around the popular computer game Bandersnatch, to better engage with the target audience.  Their film, called Track Attack, asks players to make the right choice in certain situations. They used student actors, who initially let them down, which caused delays. However, the project was completed on time. The students received input from East Midlands Trains safety business partner, Mark Giles, who attended a viewing of the film’s first draft.

The students wrote a story board and filmed at the College using their green screen facility, at a student’s home and at Locomotive Services, Crewe.

 

Results

The graphics students produced an exciting and original Line Guide design.  This will be printed and distributed widely as well as at the sixth form college, which many students travel to/from by train.  It will also be placed on the NSCRP website and shared on social media.

The graphics students have learnt about the North Staffordshire Line and about the visitor attractions it serves.  Both groups have experienced working with multiple partners – rail industry, British Transport Police and community rail, and have worked to a brief for a practical application.

Student, Maryam Zaheen said: “Doing the train line project has helped me to develop skills such as working with a team, using different graphic styles and techniques and exploring different requirements and themes of the project. It has also given me an insight of what it would be like to work for a client in a specific field and meet their needs and standards.”

Graphics teacher, Michelle Lunt said: “The line guide project was a fantastic opportunity for the graphics students to work on a live project and receive supportive feedback from their client. The project also helped the students to improve their communication skills ability to work as a team. It also provided them with the opportunity to visit locations along the train line to gather their photographs and visit new places. They were also able to build upon their software skills refining this to a professional standard.”