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FEAT


together, exchange practice and celebrate creativity in schools. The programme has so far engaged with over 90 schools in east London and over 200 arts organisations, with overwhelmingly positive feedback, particularly from teachers valuing support from the sector in championing the importance of the arts in their schools. Teachers have expressed the challenge of being the sole champion of arts in their own school. As a collective we are able to have a louder voice and support each other.


“As an arts centre we are uniquely placed to play an important civic role in towns and cities, providing shared places that enable meaningful interaction between communities. This happens through a programme that is culturally and artistically diverse but also provides a broad range of access points and works with a wider ecology of local services, including schools, early years providers, colleges, social services, local charities and youth offending teams. Last year 40,000 children and young people accessed our


education and outreach programme, including a funded YouthMusic massed singing programme through 16 east London schools which supported teachers with professional development and identified talented young people providing them with progression routes to develop their vocal talent.


“We often invite local children to be part of the creative process when a new production is being made in our theatre.We want to raise aspirations through a sense that something important and exciting is happening in their own arts centre, situated in their neighbourhood. The process of feeding their ideas into an artistic process enfranchises these students, giving them a sense of ownership over the work they see when it’s finally on the stage.


“Tickets are free for Every Child a Theatre Goer but that doesn’t necessarily ensure an audience, so to support this we involve Headteachers in selecting the production to ensure school buy-in. It needs to feel worthwhile to the teachers and so we communicate with them to build confidence in the benefit of the experience and curriculum relevance.We add value by offering wrap-around activities like free CPD (Continuing Professional Development) for teachers in the term before the production. A learni curriculum links is al post-show discussio


ns with the cast and creative so provided, and we offer ng pack pulling out


team after every show, which enables children to have a genuine exchange with the artists and further helps to raise aspirations through building connections with potential role models. “Feedback from the teachers supports our belief that a live theatre experience can have enormous benefits to the children that further their learning. In our most recent teacher survey, feedback was resoundingly positive with 100% stating that theatre is a useful tool for learning. 96%reported an impact of the scheme on their pupils’ attainment and 92%reported an impact on social and personal skills. 80%said pupils only attend theatre when with the school and 100% said they thought the “Every Child a Theatre Goer” scheme should continue.


“One teacher wrote, “Sparking an interest in the theatre at this age set children up to enjoy reading and the arts for the rest of their lives. Most of my pupils would not be exposed to plays were it not for opportunities provided through school. Now that schools have such tight budgets we rely on schemes such as Every Child a Theatre Goer to give our children the varied and rich experiences that will shape the adults they grow into. If we were to ask parents to pay for theatre trips there would always be some pupils that would be forced to miss out on the experience.”


After every visit, we also run focus groups with the children. Some recent comments included: “I think theatre is important because some people like to think in their imagination differently -- if you go to theatre you can see things differently”; and “The mood was cliff hanging. As soon as the lights turned on, I couldn’t look away.”


FEATURE FOCUS: CULTURAL EDUCATION ATURE FOCUS: CULT AT


LTURAL EDUCATION


“The ways in which teachers have used the productions to enrich learning back in the classroom has varied hugely from using the themes to ignite discussions and debates around British values and philosophy, using the


experience as a stimulus for drama, writing and storytelling, creating art displays and invigorating other curriculum sub


bjjects including PSHE and


history.We always enjoy hearing from the teachers and children about the variety of ways the visit has affected them, from improving attainment and empathy, to broadening horizons, encouraging discussion and leaving children feeling inspired. One favourite response was when a boy expressed a personal revelation, that it’s OK for boys to dance, after watching Akram Khan’s piece.


“With the recent budget announcement forecasting stagnated growth, resources will continue to be squeezed. Promoting a partnership between the education and cultural sectors feels more critical than ever to ensure that all young ry can claim their right to a


creative childhood.” people in this count


December 2017 2017 www.education-today.co.uk.co.uk 13 www


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