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Students gain valuable skills as this year’s Grads4Nottm scheme goes virtual

Nottingham Castle Trust, Nottingham Playhouse and Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature were amongst 23 local employers that set unique challenges for Nottingham Trent University (NTU) students as part of this year’s Grads4Nottm scheme.

Nottingham Castle Board Game
A board game designed for Nottingham Castle and Ludorati Cafe

NTU’s Grads4Nottm scheme, now in its sixth year, is a fantastic opportunity for Nottingham businesses to work with NTU students on live briefs. This year the Grads4Nottm programme went entirely digital due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  For some students this was the first time they had experienced remote working, so catch up sessions were planned by NTU’s employability team, as well as weekly quizzes to boost motivation.

87 students took part, completing an impressive 26 challenges assigned by Nottingham employers, which included six challenges from three of NTU’s cultural Strategic Partners; Nottingham Castle Trust, Nottingham Playhouse and Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature.

“I am grateful to have had such a wonderful experience within such a supportive work environment, with the last two weeks spurring on my passion and desire to work within the museum and heritage sector”

Louise Meiklejohn, student participant

Amongst the four briefs set by Nottingham Castle Trust, students were challenged to design some family resources for their learning programme including a 1640s Civil War board game. They also created tools and resources for a volunteer opportunity focussed on historical graffiti present across the city. Using ArtUK’s resources the graduates took to Twitter to create audience polls and to share their own virtually curated exhibitions inspired by the Castle’s collections.

Pippa Vidal Davies, Volunteer Manager at Nottingham Castle Trust enjoyed seeing the students’ confidence grow throughout the project. She said, “I am grateful for my time with them, for their insight and most of all for their infectious passion, resilience, and positivity.” Three of the students who took part were also offered short term contracts to work for Nottingham Castle over the summer.

For Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature’s brief, students were asked to research and design a virtual event called ‘Books on Trial’ – celebrating the 60th anniversary of the ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ Obscenity Trial in 1960. Four students liaised with the City of Literature team via Zoom, bringing fresh perspectives and new ideas to the project.

Nottingham Playhouse design
Designs for Nottingham Playhouse's Cafe Bar

Nottingham Playhouse set an interior design challenge, asking graduates to redesign their Café Bar area to make it more appealing for families. The student team created a stronger brand identity and designed a multifunctional adaptable space that could be used for daytime and evening events.

On the final day of the initiative, students took part in virtual presentations and a live webinar to present their completed challenges. The project was a huge success with 86% of the employers saying they would host a placement or challenge remotely again and 93% of students said they developed a very good or excellent range of skills.

Grads4Nottm is just one initiative that NTU’s cultural Strategic Partners engage with to provide students with industry work experience.  They also host internships, set project briefs, create volunteering opportunities, take part in research and support NTU’s Curated and Created programme.

“Grads4Nottm is a vital part of the calendar year for us, and we would love to take part again next year. We really value the fresh perspectives, enthusiasm and varied skills that the young people bring to the project, and we always learn just as much as they do during the Grads4Nottm fortnight (if not more!)”

- Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature

Published on 25 August 2020
  • Category: Culture