The Pilot

The Ideas Foundation ran ‘Graft & Glamour’, a two-year alternative education pilot program, in Wigan and in Hackney, between 2009 and 2011. Pupils excluded from school or outside mainstream education were nominated by schools and pupil referral units.  Using innovative teaching methods and delivery involving industry professionals, within new and interesting learning environments, was crucial in stimulating aspiration and engagement.

Channel 4, BBC Media City, BAFTA and Lime Pictures were amongst the organisations involved. The projects used the perceived glamour of the creative industries to inspire creativity, motivate and reengage young people in education.

Media Moves, a video made by the Graft & Glamour students for the BBC and the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan, was used by the BBC to promote opportunities in Media City for young people excluded from school. Media Moves launched on the Hollyoaks set in Liverpool and was distributed to all secondary schools in The Wigan and across other schools and colleges in Greater Manchester and the Northwest.

The Creative Fix video combines interviews with teachers, the BAFTA mentor and students that did the film “Breakdown” the video that was made as part of the pilot project in Hackney. The project explored the lives of young people outside school considering some of the challenges they face that affect their school attendance or their emotional behaviour in school. Breakdown was launched at BAFTA in London.

 Both projects helped all of the pupils to explore their attitude to education, relationships with teachers, parents and carers and their peers, and here is what we heard back from them and those around them:

“Britanny and Jade are so focussed this year and you wouldn’t believe the difference. Both girls are applying for Media City for when they leave and Brittany is delighted with the additional support you have given her via Hollyoaks, in fact she’ll be signing autographs before long!  Jade has grown in confidence and we are hoping that she will sing a solo at the leavers assembly this year, I know, amazing progress.  You did wonders.”

Karen Hindley, Student Support Manager
Lowton High School

“I just thought I’d be going on the dole anyway so it didn’t seem worth making any effort at school – I just thought “What’s the point in school because you can always go on the dole?” Now I would want a job where I get paid for something I enjoy doing.”


“I have never seen pupils travel such distance in their learning in such a short period of time.”

Pat Walters, Director
Wigan Education Business Partnership

“There have been changes in Judy since the project. She’s always been confident but now she seems more focussed on things – where she wants to go in life. We’ve got the email of an agent who deals with extras for Hollyoaks – she really wants to do that kind of work.”

Mother of Judy Loudon
Abraham Guest High School

“Just a quick follow up on the Ideas Foundation Graft & Glamour project. Last night, I attended an event at Channel 4’s studios in Victoria, London where, as well as the Wigan achievers, there were young people from Hackney who had been involved in a similar project.
The event was attended by various media types – educational charities, media/educational arms of C4, as well as practitioners and the young people involved in the project. Two young women from Wigan, Jess Holt (Y10 Lowton High School) and Hayley McGuire (Y10 Hindley High School). They spoke extremely eloquently and confidently about the benefits to them of being involved in the project. Both girls had a familiar history of being excluded from school, managed moves, habitual truants etc.. But their involvement in the project and the production of the film which was the end product of their participation, had completely turned them around, to the extent that they now attended school regularly and having recently completed their mock GCSEs were now in a situation of being predicted as achieving high grade GCSEs – in some instances A* in both maths and English. They were a credit to themselves, their schools and the Council (CYPS) which has actively supported this project.”

Jim Taylor, 14-19 Strategy and Commissioning Manager
Wigan MBC


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Alternative provision free school for 13-16