FP/KS2: Tidy!

Arts Active at St David’s Hall, Cardiff with primary school learners from across South Wales

Overview

Tidy! was developed by Arts Active in response to requests from primary schools to use the arts to support the development of communication and thinking skills. It enabled teachers to deliver relevant sections of the national Literacy and Numeracy Framework (LNF) for Foundation Phase and Key Stage 2, specifically:

  • Oracy – Developing and presenting information and ideas – Speaking, Listening, Collaboration and discussion
  • Writing – Organising ideas and information – Meaning, purposes, readers, Structure and organisation
  • Writing – Writing accurately – Language.

The project also fulfilled some areas (Skills and Range) of the Foundation Phase Areas of Learning, namely: Language, Literacy and Communication Skills, Knowledge and Understanding of the World and Creative Development.

The majority of the schools involved were from Communities First areas in Cardiff, Torfaen, Merthyr and Pontypridd. As most learners (and their families) had never been to St David’s Hall, it was hoped that the project would widen their cultural experience and, perhaps, encourage a return visit.

Background

The project brought together the skill-sets of a poet (Francesca Kay), a composer (Helen Woods), visual artists (Terry Chinn, Becky Adams, Cindy Ward, Ruth McLees and Kathyrn Ashill) and teachers. The artists were able to provide a real context, within which learners could develop skills and techniques, and teachers could develop the confidence to be creative and run with learners’ ideas. Through working collaboratively (rather than requiring artists to cover PPA time), teachers reinforced the importance of the artists’ contribution.

Planning

After an initial meeting with the head teacher from each school, the Arts Active team delivered a one-day INSET for the class teachers (plus some Teaching Assistants) in St David’s Hall. Teachers were given a set of open discussion questions based on the theme ‘Our Environment’, and asked to facilitate a discussion with their pupils, focusing on one key question. After meeting the artists, learning warm-ups and discussing how the project would work, teachers and artists scheduled workshops and logistics.

How it worked

The project consisted of ten sessions per school over one term. The initial sessions were led by the poet who helped learners to explore descriptive language, then combined their ideas to create a poem with each class. The musician helped learners to set the words to music, combining their musical ideas to create a melody and instrumental backing. At the same time, visual artists supported learners in making things to express their ideas.  

how it worked

Young artists building part of their artwork with Cindy Ward

The musician produced a backing track and piano score at the end of Session 3, to enable learners to practise the song with their teacher from Week 4 onwards.

how it worked

The class rehearse its song

Celebration

By the end of the project, each school had its own song and art work, all of which were cleverly woven together by the Arts Active team using the episodic format of a road movie. The project culminated in a live performance at St David’s Hall with professional actors and musicians. The performance was well attended by parents and families.

Outcomes

Learners showed improvement in their oracy skills: expressing opinions, giving reasons, and listening to others with concentration. Teachers noted that, after getting to know the artists, quiet learners overcame their shyness and contributed to conversations. By exploring words specific to the topic, learners widened their vocabulary. By combining their ideas into, first, a poem, and then a song, learners improved their understanding of structure and organisation. Children still working at the annual expectation for Reception benefited from the number-based vocal warm up.

Reflections

This arts project successfully enabled young learners to access and make sense of a complex and challenging topic. They used their emerging skills in Creative Writing, Music, Art and Design to construct their understanding of the environment. The prospect of a live performance meant that the children were writing for real, whilst its staging at St David’s Hall enabled them to think and work on a large scale

In addition to their specific skill-sets, the artists were adept at building on and developing learners’ ideas. The artists learnt from the teachers’ thorough planning and questioning, and teachers became more confident in working creatively.

More Information

The Arts Active Trust is a registered charity that supports education, community and audience engagement projects from St David’s Hall and the New Theatre Cardiff.