Empowering critical thinking: Routes Puppets inspire students at Leeds College of Building

Promoting critical thinking skills among students is a vital objective for educational institutions. It was with this in mind that Leeds College of Building, in collaboration with Routes Puppets, organised a thought-provoking session called Mind Your Language. Funded by Go Higher West Yorkshire (GHWY), it aimed to enhance students’ critical thinking abilities, prepare them for Higher Education (HE) or employment, and foster self-reflection. 

Mind Your Language session 

The event, which took place between 9-15 May 2023, was interactive and visually engaging for students. It aimed to cater to a range of learning styles, encouraging pupils to develop the critical thinking skills required for their future endeavours. The target audience for this session was the first-year Construction Craft groups at North Street and Southbank, as it was felt they would benefit most from building transferable skills and preparing for their next steps. 

Promoting critical thinking and self-reflection

The primary focus of the session was to increase students’ awareness of raising standards in their beliefs and critical thinking. Discussions on fundamental British values, self-image, and reputation encouraged students to self-reflect and consider the impact of their actions on their future, both in HE and employment. The session emphasised respecting oneself and others, understanding learned behaviours, and empowering students to bring about positive change. 

Exploring relevant topics

The session covered a range of topics including Safeguarding, Radicalisation and Extremism. Students and staff were impressed by the expertise and presentation style of Routes Puppets. The presenter, Steve, shared his wealth of knowledge and experience, infusing the sessions with passion and enthusiasm. Interactive elements, humour, and personal anecdotes were used to keep the audience engaged and interested. 

Impact on students

Student feedback reflected the positive impact of the session. They expressed appreciation for the inclusive and respectful atmosphere created by Steve. They found the session stimulating, personal, and relatable, which helped them connect with the material.  

One student said they, “Really enjoyed it because the instructor made it really personal and real.” Another student said, “I thought I couldn’t speak to people about my interests and beliefs, but this helped me to feel more comfortable about doing it.”  

Overall, the session empowered students to embrace their individuality, express their beliefs, and develop confidence in their skills and abilities. 

Respecting diversity and encouraging dialogue

Routes Puppets and Steve demonstrated an in-depth understanding of different trades and ensured that the content was relevant to every student, regardless of their gender, background, or beliefs. Challenging moments and heated discussions were handled respectfully, allowing individuals to feel heard and valued. The session fostered an environment where students felt comfortable expressing their opinions and engaging in meaningful dialogue. 

The session was a valuable experience for students. By promoting critical thinking, self-reflection, and respect for oneself and others, it equipped students with essential skills for their future endeavours.  

Routes Puppets’ engaging presentation style, expertise, and incorporation of real-life experiences left a lasting impact on students, inspiring them to embrace their unique perspectives and pursue success with confidence. The event showcased the power of interactive and visually engaging sessions in fostering critical thinking skills among students. 


Leyan Elyas, GHWY Uni Connect Outreach Officer, Leeds Arts University