Creative arts experts from Leeds Beckett University are teaming up with eight inner-city primary schools in Bradford using drama and storytelling to build children’s skills and confidence in speaking, expressing and sharing their ideas.
The new scheme will be led by Story Makers Company - based within the Carnegie School of Education at Leeds Beckett University – and Bowling Park Primary School in Bradford.
The two-year project will use drama and storytelling to bring the primary school curriculum to life for children in Year 3 and Year 4 (ages seven to nine).
Lisa Stephenson, the Course Leader for the MA in Creative Learning at Leeds Beckett, and director of the Story Makers Company, said: “Drama and the creative arts have a unique way of engaging learners, drawing from their lived experiences in meaningful ways.
"This activates communication and oracy - our ability to articulate ideas, develop understanding and engage with others through spoken and non-verbal language.
"Within the current primary education curriculum policy, oracy and communication have far less of a focus than reading and writing – which is why this project is so important."
Building on the Story Makers Company’s existing work in schools artists, teachers, senior leaders and children will create a curriculum which will be shared across all of the schools through an online ‘story exchange’.
The eight participating schools are all part of the MYBD5 partnership - a network of schools, catering for roughly 3800 children from a diverse range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, in the economically deprived, inner city, BD5 area of Bradford.
Claire Taylor, Senior Lead at Bowling Park Primary School, stressed the importance of the wok work is important due to the impact of Covid-19.
She said: "Over the last year pupils have missed a significant amount of time in school during Key Stage 1 (KS1) in which language development and oracy is integral to the curriculum.
"Most families in the area do not speak English at home and have limited language development opportunities. Therefore, for this cohort, it will be vital for their progress to build this into their curriculum.
"It will also be crucial to develop their confidence, as time away from school reduces their interaction with each other, and opportunities to talk and share ideas – these things are essential for helping children to flourish.
“The BD5 network of schools are also keen to work more with families and communities across Bradford. The schools have very strong ties to the local community and will bring this benefit to the project - ensuring that it remains relevant to their children’s lives and experiences.”
Within each of the schools, the project will involve all Year 3 class teachers - a total of 18 classes and teachers, with Bowling Park Primary acting as the project hub school. It will then extend to Year 4 classes.
The project builds on the existing strong relationship between Story Makers Company and Bowling Park Primary School.
Previously the team collaborated on a project working with Roma children at the school, using drama and creative writing processes to create a fiction story.
The story entitled Chasing the Volcano has been published through Story Makers Press, along with a teachers’ guide to support the use of drama techniques to explore the text.
The team also co-delivered a professional development day to 15 schools on the use of drama, language development and Roma literacies.
Story Makers Company has also led a United Kingdom Literacy Association (UKLA) project, using drama to create meaningful contexts for writing in KS1 and KS2, with Burley and Woodhead Church of England Primary School, in Burley-in-Wharfedale. Following the project, the school became the lead Literacy Hub for Bradford schools.
The new project will run from September 2021 to September 2023, and has received £148,000 from the Teacher Development Fund, awarded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation.
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