Bafta Winner Phil Mealey Inspires Students At Studio West

Issue 103

Studio West recently buzzed with a mix of excitement and creativity as BAFTA-winning writer and actor, Phil Mealey, paid a visit to the secondary school which is part of Newcastle-based multi-academy trust, Northern Leaders Trust (NLT). Mealey brought his comprehensive experience in the performing arts industry to the students when he hosted a scriptwriting workshop which left a lasting impression on their flourishing talents and aspirations.

Phil Mealey reached out to Studio West with a desire to share his knowledge and inspire any budding writers and performers. His proposal was warmly received, resulting in an organised visit which highlighted the positive impact that professional workshops and visits have on student development.

The visit was organised by the school’s staff, including Head of Drama, Nicole Mavin. It saw enthusiastic Year 9 students, who have chosen to study drama at GCSE level, and performers from the recent school production of ‘Bugsy Malone’ invited to a script-writing workshop. The selection process aimed to gather students who had previously shown a passion for the performing arts to ensure that Mealey’s visit had the utmost impact.

During the workshop, students were put into groups where they developed ideas and drafted scripts whilst receiving feedback and guidance from Mealey. His approach was hands-on and engaging, as he encouraged students to create realistic and comical characters and storylines. This direct approach enhanced their engagement, script-writing skills and confidence in their creative abilities.

Students’ reactions were extremely positive: “I really liked it. I think he was good at helping us figure out different sections of the story and making it all sound connected,” one student shared. Another added, “the workshop was fun! It was a good experience and taught me a lot about what happens between leaving school and becoming a writer.” These sentiments echoed throughout the group, with many expressing newfound inspiration and a desire for more similar opportunities.

Since the workshop, the impact of Mealey’s visit has been evident in the school’s atmosphere. The workshop participants are actively seeking additional script writing opportunities. This highlights the impact of Mealey’s visit, in which his message was that: ‘it doesn’t matter where you start; what truly matters is where you aspire to be.’

The recent visit seamlessly aligned with Northern Leaders Trust’s vision of placing students at the centre of everything they do and providing opportunities to nurture both academic and personal development. This initiative aims to support students’ academic potential while bestowing the confidence they need to become future leaders. Mealey’s interaction with the students epitomised this vision by offering them a glimpse into the real-world possibilities of pursuing a career in the performing arts.

The impact of Mealey’s visit continued throughout the school. Auditions for the next annual school production took place just a week after his visit, and the number of aspiring actors doubled compared to last year. The success of this year’s production is likely to have played a huge role in this increase, however, the effect that Mealey’s visit had on the students proves that professional mentorship is vital for student engagement. Nicole Mavin has noted that: “students are increasingly challenging themselves and nurturing their creative aspirations”, which is critical in an age where the student aspiration gap is at its lowest level in six years (Source: Unifrog).

Nicole Mavin highlights the importance of hosting these types of visits and experiences at Studio West: “We want to give our students as many opportunities as possible and for them to engage with professionals in a range of industries in which we hope can inspire them to pursue their own careers, should they wish. We want students to feel they can overcome obstacles in their way to achieve whatever they want!”

Phil Mealey himself reflected on the visit with enthusiasm, expressing his delight at the students’ engagement and creativity: “Inspiring young writers and performers at Studio West was a delight. Their enthusiasm and creativity stood out, showcasing the incredible potential of that generation.”

In conclusion, Phil Mealey’s visit to Studio West School exemplified the powerful impact that professional mentorship can have on students. It highlighted the school’s commitment to providing diverse and enriching opportunities, aligned with Northern Leaders Trust’s vision of student-centered education. The visit instilled a lasting confidence that will undoubtedly influence the students’ future endeavours.

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