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Creative visualisation is a powerful tool that brings a school's ethos and sense of belonging to life. By engaging our learners, staff team, and our wider school community in a collaborative process of visualising the school's values and identity, we are actively creating a living, shared vision that fosters a strong sense of belonging. In other words, how to #BeMoreBob


Information on this page is provided by the innovator and has not been evaluated by HundrED.

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Target group
May 2024
We are seeing a huge increase in learner engagement across the school, with families (even grandparents) now involved in setting our curriculum as it evolves. Sharing ideas and opinions is strong in our learning community as the barrier of committing ideas to paper or through a poll have just gone. We talk, we are together and we respect everyone's ideas and opinions. And attainment is up too!

About the innovation

Why did you create this innovation?

Building a lived ethos that is ever-evolving and truly represents the learners, families, and staff at Dounby School requires ongoing commitment, collaboration, and adaptability. Ownership and belonging are core to everyone in our school and we needed a way that we could visualise where we were so as to move to what we can be and evolve to become.

What does your innovation look like in practice?

Creative visualisation scaffolds our educational environment where metacognitive skills are nurtured, active participation is encouraged, and learners are empowered to shape their educational journeys. This approach prepares everyone across our learning community for success in learning, life, and work, while fostering a strong sense of ownership and belonging within the school community. Our curriculum has no ceiling, our learning community exudes endless possibilities and our learners truly lead.
We use creative modelling to physically represent our ideas and opinions about an area for development, then envision and build a shared understanding of this can become. We focus on not only the tangible elements but also the emotions, leading to shared presentations of the symbolism and meaning behind their creations. This actively facilitate an open discussion where everyone can ask questions, provide feedback, and explore common themes to generate innovative improvement steps.

How has it been spreading?

We are now mentoring 2 schools in our local authority and 10 across Scotland, with partnerships within the Creative Learning Network and beyond. We link with everyone we can encourage to be part of our journey, from the National Galleries in Edinburgh, to our very own Bob journeying around on a Grand Tour of Scotland to promote creativity and creative thinking (
At the National Galleries, we have spoken to teachers from as far away as Canada to people visiting from Africa. We are supporting this through our school's website, Twitter and other social media accounts. Our exhibition of how Bob became Dounby and Dounby became Bob has had more visitors to date than the Grason Perry exhibition!

If I want to try it, what should I do?

Be brave, make time, have conversations, create and just give this a go! Come and visit Orkney and see just how by making a wee model of what our learners felt about their school has turned into something that is beyond out wildest beliefs!
Check out our website ( and our Twitter ( or just pick up the phone!


And it also brings folks into school - yup, pretty mich every event we have is packed. Here is our P4/5 class sharing the books that they have written and published with their families - learner led contect for learning brought to life with books (which you can buy if you would like to read some brilliant stories!). This is empowerment in action. Agency that is real. Togetherness that is strong.
It even changes the way we work with different partners - here is just one corner of a room of 103 people coming to see our P6/7 class launch their "Dounby Rocks" exhibition in partnership with Stromness Museum and the National Museums of Scotland. They used creative visualisation to bring to life an exhibit all about rocks and minerals collected by a local geoscientist.
And our staff use creative visualisation to think about their school improvement goals - literally everyone can give this a go. All you need is time and junk materials - and a little bit of imagination!
And even our local minister gets involved - here they are visiting Bob in his temporary home at the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh - our learners created what they wanted the world to be come using the world Protect for their creative visualisation - check out our website for more on this story or watch
Everyone gets excited about hearing about #BeMoreBob. Here are our learners leading the national Creative Learning Network meeting and telling the adults what they should be doing to make sure pupils all over Scotland get the same ownership and responsibility in their school as they do at Dounby. Our youngest pupil on the right is only 6 years old - this builds amazing confidence!
Creative visualisation should be messy, it should be as extreme as you can go, because the results are high levels of engagement that live on. These are opportinities that our pupils will remember for life.
A new generation of class Bobs begins our journey towards Big Bob! Our learners spoke with pride about how all of our pupils had contributed to their designs and what belonging to Dounby School really means to them. Their focus - friendship, learning, leading and having folks look out for you.
Even new fledged teaching students are learning how to #BeMoreBob - here is our Dounby Way being shown to students at Aberdeen University. Staff here were so proud that our model of learners owning choice and change has been given such a profile in Initial Teacher Education.
Here is #BeMoreBob with Big Bob! He has been created from over 100 different creative visuialisations of what our learners, families, community and staff want our school to become - each bit of both sculptures has a purpose, from caring hearts, to wiggly learning brains, to learners leading, to breaking through challenges. So powerful, so owned, so brilliant!
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Implementation steps

Select an area for improvement that you want to discuss with your learners, families and staff. It is as simple as a conversation over playtime, or an idea from Parent Council, in fact, anything you want to see get better. This is all about the conversation that leads to change and fostering the belief that belonging to our school community will see change happen, and change that is decided by those who are directly affected by it.
#BuildMoreBob You can see examples on our Twitter feed.
Put out items, anything you like, that can be used to create a real life model of what your improvement area looks and feels like currently for those involved. This can also be used for creating a model of what you want to see happen once you put improvement steps in. Then get creating. Any thing goes, as long as participants describe why each component they picked has been placed where they put it and why. It is this conversation about the why that will lead you to finding what you can change.
#DiscussMoreBob Look at our website for photos of this in real life!
Take time to discuss each element of the creative visualisation that is made. What is each part there for, what does it mean, where will that little bit of new knowledge take us? Then brainstorm, create action research cycles, bring in others to review what has been made, decide on next steps processes of what you now should know is the outcome for your improvement step. The important thing is look at your creations from every angle possible - things look different from different view points.
Use what you create to bring that 3D visualisation into reality. Action the steps you discuss, make the hard decisions, let the right person for the task lead (an that for us is always our learners), find new audiences to share what you have found out, celebrate and build on what you have. You will never get better buy in to school improvement - ever! The impact is on relationships, they become real and shared. They build positive ethos and allow everyone to own what their school can become.
All of these steps bring around such owned change, inclusive improvements and a real and exciting way to make sure the way in which your school works really is to the learning benefit of all. Your lived school ethos and just how if feels to be in your school will change beyond anything you can imagine. Learner engagement rockets, family participation excels and staff get the joy of seeing genuine improvement. Your whole school will feel - hard to describe, but you will feel and belong, together.
That little, crazy model that you build holds the potential to drive curriculum, to change how everyone within your wider learning community engages with school, and for everyone to own what your school becomes. We were asked, what is the impact here - and that is genuinely it. It is real owndership, not token gesture. It is real community, not showy performance. It is knowing everyone has a voice in what we become. And no prescribed resource in the world can foster that!

Spread of the innovation

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