The Schools Arts Network: Driving forward children’s rights to participate in and enjoy high quality Arts provision and activity

Another successful School Arts Network Day was held on the 18th October; this one with the added element of taking place in two of Kirklees’ most prominent cultural venues: Lawrence Batley Theatre and Huddersfield Art Gallery, hence the title: Cultural Creativity: Connecting the Arts and Culture. The day explored how the arts could be infused into teaching, stimulating children’s interest in a whole range of curriculum areas.

Participants were immersed into the world of drama and expressive movement in the morning. Fabulous workshops delivered by CHOL Theatre and Expressive Explorers explored how children and young people could be stimulated to develop imaginary worlds and communities and the ways in which drama and rhyme could bring stories to life for our younger pupils. Any initial reticence quickly dissolved and everyone took part with enthusiasm, especially as they saw the wealth of opportunities drama afforded to develop children’s knowledge, understanding and self-esteem. In fact, so enthused were people, that re-living the sessions’ activities continued at the end of the day.

Katherine Warman, LBT’s Participation Officer, gave a fascinating and informative tour of the theatre, allowing everyone to explore areas of the theatre which audiences are not usually privy too. These tours are available to school groups to enhance children’s understanding of how theatres run and the complexity of the skills and roles that together make a theatre performance. We also experienced a short workshop taster, which led to interesting discussion about how to introduce books and stories through drama and hot-seating.

After lunch we switched venue to the inspirational Huddersfield Art Gallery. The Museums and Libraries Service gave a great lead in to the afternoon session, giving participants insight into the range of practical resources that school can borrow for free to bring history to life for children. A range of practical activities then followed focused on visual arts and textiles. Julia who runs ‘Upcycle Fashion’ engaged attendees in learning how to use creative sewing to develop life-long clothing. Everyone left with their very own t-shirt bag and lengths of t-shirt yarn were created to weave and knit into new items. How better to teach children about sustainable, eco-friendly fashion? The afternoon was rounded off brilliantly by Chloe from The Children’s Art School inspiring participants to create wearable architecture. You have never seen such wonderful creations – and all made purely from large sheets of cardboard! Creativity, technical skill, team work and laughter were resounding features of the session.

So, how do we plan to follow such a resoundingly successful session?

Ideas for further Art Network meetings centre around supporting schools to write a coherent progression of skills document and preparing for an Ofsted Deep Dive in Art.

We are also drawing up plans for an Arts and Mental Health conference during 2020.

We are hoping to be successful in a bid to take part in an exciting action research opportunity with Hatch Projects to develop a textile curriculum for Kirklees schools.

We are currently working on an exciting action research opportunity with Hatch aiming to develop a textile curriculum for Kirklees primary Schools.

We will also be working with Woven and the Evoke Biennale organisers to consolidate and build on the successful roles that Kirklees schools played in their last events and to help shape future involvement in an upcoming programme of events for Kirklees pupils across all key stages.