Participatory arts in schools

I led bilingual projects at three primary schools, Plascrug on their chosen subject of African stories, and Rhayader on the theme of myths and legends, and Penllwyn on forest school, foraging and animation.

The three projects included developing writing skills, storytelling methods, animation and illustration and performance. Both schools saw exceptional responses from children.

These were part of the Creative Schools pilot project, funded by the Arts Council of Wales and the Welsh Government. The aim of the project is to bring creative practitioners into schools to widen the children and teachers’ exposure to creative work, the benefits of different ways of thinking and working, and experience of the¬†creative industries.

The project was devised in response to research showing that many children in schools today will in the future be doing jobs that don’t yet exist, and that the skills needed are ones not currently being adequately met by the curriculum. These skills are summed up in the five creative habits of mind (see diagram), and include some really valuable skills like learning to fail, and learning to trust their own opinion of their work rather than just seek approval. The projects were all created alongside the children, who interviewed and chose practitioners, themes, creative disciplines and end results, and the content of sessions along the way. This experience of co-creation was markedly different from what usually happens in schools, and was very challenging for children, teachers and practitioners, but yielded great results.

I had the experience of collaborating with an animator, a dancer, a drummer, a forager, a forest school builder, woodland charity Tir Coed, Ysgol Penllwyn’s chickens, and many great children, teachers, and parents.

We worked through: creative writing, stop motion animation, shadow puppetry, photography, dance, film, soundscapes, collage, costume-making, storytelling, extended myth creation, group storytelling, mime games, fire building, foraging, den making, shelter erecting, making sorrel pesto, leaf ‘stained glass’, bread making, and plenty of other disciplines we made up along the way.

Overview

Creative Practitionerships for the Arts Council of Wales's pilot project, aiming to boost creative habits of mind in children and teachers

Client

Arts Council of Wales / Rhayader, Plascrug and Penllwyn schools

Services

Facilitation, project management, creative writing, evaluation and monitoring

Skills

Event planning
Participatory arts
Project management
Talks and workshops