David Smith, Project Coordinator for Creative Learning on his visit to a school in West Lancashire…
I made a mistake…
I like to arrive early for an appointment. Arriving at 8-45am in a primary school in West Lancashire I was met by a lovely lady in the School Office who told me that I wasn’t expected until 10-30am when the teacher would be available. “Don’t sit in the meeting room on your own“, she said, “come into the Hall, we have a special assembly for our Reception children; you are welcome to join us…”
The Hall was packed. Over 200 children were quietly making their way in, joined by over a 100 noisy parents and grandparents. The whole assembly of 45 minutes was delivered by 60 Reception children. The theme was ‘Animals of Africa’.
The children were organised in groups of about 12. Each group was a group of: zebras, lions, crocodiles or monkeys. The children had made their own masks, and were simply costumed. Each group performed to a simple formula to demonstrate their learning: a dance to music and a song. The more able in the group acted out a simple script as explorers encountering the animals. Even we were involved in actions and singing… I made an amazing monkey of myself! You could have sold tickets!
So what did all this show? Well, five groups of 5-6 year old children showed off what they had learned about Africa: its animals, its flora, its terrain, its climate. And they did it through the arts – through drama, through song, through dance, through art and through their own creative ideas.
I couldn’t have had a more wonderful start to my day. It was a reminder of the quality of what is being delivered in our schools, of the quality of our teachers and the quality of leadership which provides the vision that puts children and the arts at the centre of learning.