A New Chapter for Unwavering Eskdale School Creatives

Eskdale Young Creatives Photography of hill landscape

End of an era

Partner school Eskdale is set to close permanently at the end of the year. Due to low numbers, The North Yorkshire council agreed last year that a merger with Caedmon College was in the best interest of Eskdale School creatives. Their closure comes during a widespread national fall in demand for school places. Last year alone, secondary pupils across the UK missed 10% or more of school, according to estimates by the Department of Education [1].

Eskdale School Creatives Create Connections

Towards the end of 2023, Eskdale students embraced their final visit from The Ideas Foundation. Designed to connect young, isolated creatives, and combat the lingering aftereffects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the pupils threw themselves into the learner designed “Creating Connections” programme. With facilitators Adisa Stephen-Ezeocha, Michael Cockerham, Tom Martin, and Ben Worth providing key skills for students to empower themselves. By consolidating important employability skills and nurturing their innate abilities, students were able to begin documenting the unprecedented changes to their community in a novel way.

Eskdale Student Creatives photography of wilting flowers in vase

Eskdale Young Creatives

Eskdale Young Creatives photography of blurred image at night with red light

Generously funded by UCB and The King Baudouin Foundation, with an armoury of equipment loaned by Canon UK, the young creatives were able to get invaluable hands-on experience. Guided by professional photographers Michael and Tom, and Adisa’s own professional skills adding a literary dynamic to the workshops, meant students could articulate their stories and emotions with clarity and depth. Ben’s expertise in drama and acting encouraged students to build their confidence, build on communication skills and explore different perspectives.

The support from The Ideas Foundation, and the collaboration from funders and Canon, meant Eskdale School creatives had a unique educational experience. Now armed with wellbeing skills, creative tools, industry contacts, and memories, the closure of Eskdale is more than an end of an era for the students. For these young people, they can begin a new chapter with the tools needed to navigate the complexities of the world.

I was blown away by their maturity talking about mental health and wellbeing. The workshops really brough the kids out of their shells. There’s a need to have time and space to be creative without a set of criteria and tick list of what they have to achieve and being on task all the time. Standing back and letting them do it, they came up with the goods. The workshops showed what education could be.

Ian Bloor, Eskdale School, Whitby  

The Exhibition

Student's creative efforts will be showcased at the Pannett gallery towards the end of this month. Aptly named “Belonging”, the 1-week exhibition will be a stark reminder to Whitby community (and wider) that all students have potential, they just need to be equipped with the correct tools. Charities, such as The Ideas Foundation, aim to bring these tools and work experiences to broaden the perspectives of young people, regardless of where they come from.

Creativity is an emotional outlet, and it is no accident that society’s most exciting creatives are often very young… the process can be fraught with its own difficulties as they struggle to turn their ideas into visual realities. The Ideas Foundation gives them a chance to do just that – using facilitators to help them bring their ideas into the world.

Michael Cockerham, facilitator, Creative Advisor and photographer 

Eskdale Young Creatives photography of sunset

Eskdale Young Creatives photography of two Apollo posters on wall


As more schools close, or merge, students will increasingly require the tools to manage these unprecedented times. The “Creating Connections” project will always remain a blueprint for those who choose to pay attention. What the youth require is constantly changing. To keep up and in the know, donate today:

By donating, you can help to motivate a young person to strive for success.

by Marisol Holme

[1] School Attendance in England 2024, House of Commons Research Briefing 

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