Ipswich School’s Design and Technology Department joined forces with Northgate High School, Westbourne Academy and Ipswich Makerspace over the school Easter holidays to produce much needed protective visors for local essential workers.
In total the teams transformed over 2,200 projector slides and acetate into PPE visors for local care homes, community nurses, GPs, hospitals, dentists, pharmacies, community support groups and ambulance services. All 160 drivers for Ipswich Buses now have a face visor thanks to the partnership with local craft group, Ipswich Makerspace.
Having family members experience a lack of PPE, the DT team approached Ivry Street Medical Practice, which is opposite the school, to find out what could be done to help in the COVID-19 crisis. The medical practice said there was a need for PPE and agreed to test prototypes made by the school. The DT team found a CAD design online (designed by Kitronik) that would work with the school’s laser cutter. Staff scoured the whole school for unused acetates which could be remodelled into PPE visors, once inserted into polypropylene frames cut on the laser cutter.
Following social media posts, the school was inundated with requests for PPE particularly from care homes, pharmacies and community support groups. Thanks to the link with staff at two state schools in Ipswich – Northgate High School and Westbourne Academy – we were able to make visors and coordinate materials, requests and deliveries to help as many groups as possible with donated visors.
A team of volunteer drivers including Mr Ross, Ms Caston, Ms Carter, Mrs Catchpole and Mr Morgan worked hard to get the visors to their destinations and school families helped with construction, while the Old Ipswichian Club provided financial support for the production costs and to assist with the smooth running of the laser cutter. The OI and FOIS networks were also instrumental in connecting us to less obvious essential worker organisations that would benefit – pharmacies, Peabody Group and indeed individuals in specific need.
Headmaster Mr Weaver said: “I am proud that our DT department has demonstrated so many of the skills we all learn at school: skills of collaboration, proactivity, creative thinking, adaptability and experimentation.”
He added: “I am also very proud that as a community we worked together – sharing ideas and materials to make and deliver this vital equipment. Care is one of the core values of Ipswich School and this is something we have demonstrated so well through this project.”
Mrs Clark, one of the DT teachers involved, said: “Not only were we able to meet a demand for protective equipment, we were also able to demonstrate how important design and technology is to our lives. We proved that everything we say in the classroom can be borne out in a real situation – identify a need, think creatively, research a solution, test it out and then get making! It was an exciting project to work on, and who would have thought that spare OHP slides could be put to such good use!”
The school received many thank you emails from the beneficiaries, including from Ann Mason, from Ann Mason Care, who said: “A big big thank you to Ipswich School staff and pupils for helping us at this challenging time, we are extremely grateful” and from Ashwin Bhatt (OI), from Rainbow Pharmacy, who said: “Thank you for providing us with visors, they are fantastic and we are now protected thanks to the school.” Ipswich MP Tom Hunt also contacted the school, saying: “It is a great credit to the school and to the students involved that you have been able to supply this much needed PPE equipment for local medical workers.”