Staff and students from Bridge College and The Manchester College surprised onlookers with a unique flashmob to mark the much anticipated collaboration between the two organisations. With just five months until the unveiling of a new shared campus in Openshaw which will include a brand new purpose built college for Bridge students and a new horticulture and landbased studies centre for Manchester College students, both parties celebrated with a flash mob with a difference.
Staff and students from Bridge College visited the new Pottery Lane site in Openshaw to teach the Wates Construction team - which is building the pioneering facility - a thing or two about Makaton sign language. Makaton is a system derived from British Sign Language (BSL) that is used by many people with communication disorders and learning difficulties. Unlike BSL, Makaton is always used alongside speech with just key words being signed.
Bridge students demonstrated the Makaton signs for a range of building industry items - including bulldozer, scaffolding and digger - as well as some common and useful signs for such things as tea and coffee. After their lesson in Makaton, the construction workers in their hard hats and fluorescent jackets got into the spirit of the event by joining in as the students and staff sang and signed to an Bruno Mars classic.
After declaring success on the construction site, the Bridge College students and staff met their contemporaries at The Manchester College to stage a flash mob in the foyer. Weeks of hard work and practice by the Bridge team and students and staff from The Manchester College came together as the combined group broke into sign and song, much to the surprise and delight of onlookers.
"The idea of doing a flash mob event that brought together the two college communities worked very well indeed. It was wonderful to see the construction team and the colleges' students and staff really get behind the idea. Everyone enjoyed the event - and all of us learned something new!" said Maggie Thompson, Principal at Bridge College.
"They've all worked extremely hard to learn the routines, and it's brilliant for the Bridge College students to be able to share their Makaton skills with a wider audience. We even managed to capture the flash mobs on film, so everyone can see the students and Wates team in action."
Peter Tavernor, Chief Executive of The Manchester College welcomed the event, 'It was fantastic to see the two colleges celebrating this exciting collaboration in such a fresh and innovative way. Staff and students at The Manchester College really enjoyed taking part in the Makaton flashmob and have learnt some really valuable communication skills. We look forward to welcoming Bridge College staff and students to Openshaw in September.'
The collaborative project between Bridge College, which is operated by charity, the Together Trust and The Manchester College, is the first of its kind in the region. The innovative facility will be a unique centre of expertise in specialist education with highly specialised learning support including speech and language, physio, hydro and occupational therapies, tutors and support work teams. The new site, opening in September 2012, will feature a learning hub for the development of social skills and independence, and an area dedicated to promoting horticulture and land based studies in an urban setting.