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Oasis Hobmoor nurtures pupils' creative talents

Self-funded creative school programme at Oasis Academy Hobmoor celebrates first year

Posted by Stephanie Broad | July 19, 2016 | School life

Over the last academic year, pupils at Oasis Academy Hobmoor, Yardley in Birmingham have participated in an innovative in-school programme using resident arts professionals. Led by digital-dance company Mercurial Dance, the Every Child Is An Artist programme has developed the creative skills and the artistic ability of every child, and has also created a space for art and creativity to flourish at the primary school. The whole programme has been achieved within the school without external funding, innovatively utilising a teaching post usually used to cover the time teachers have traditionally used away from pupils for planning, preparation and assessment, to timetable and fund the creative programme.

Since September the Mercurial Dance team have delivered 532 creative sessions to 420 children at the school. Three hundred of these pupils, from years two to six, have all achieved an Arts Award, a qualification managed by Trinity College London and Arts Council England that is designed to build confidence and prepare for further education and employment. 

Led by a team of 11 local artists, the children have explored different creative disciplines each term: digital arts including augmented reality, film and coding; visual arts including ceramics, sculpture, screen printing and upcycled art and the performing arts, which encompassed dance, music and voice work. Through these creative activities, they explored the question ‘What is it like to be a young person growing up in Yardley today?’ Pupils learnt how to build a virtual 3D world online, creating an exhibition, films and avatars - their own online personalities - to populate it. Using Makey Makey technology, they turned everyday objects into musical instruments and used LittleBits to create drawing robots. They children also investigated the theme by exploring their local environment, discovering how materials, objects, textures and sounds could be found in their everyday surroundings and used to make art, and made ceramic totem poles, decorating the many layers with textures and brightly coloured slips and glazes.

Each term has ended with an exhibition or performance to showcase the work of the whole school to the wider community in Yardley and beyond. These showcases have emphasised the school’s place in local community and shown the creativity and ‘voice’ of the young people who attend.

Paul Tarry, Principal of Oasis Academy Hobmoor, says: “The Every Child is An Artist project has been really exciting and the children absolutely love it. Along with their parents and teachers, I’m thrilled to see the excellent work that the children have produced – during each project you can see their growing belief in the skills that they are developing. It is clear that many of our pupils are inspired by the creativity that they can express through art.

“By treating our teachers’ planning and preparation time not as a classroom interval that needs to be covered, but as a part of the week that we can use to create unforgettable experiences, the project really has been exciting. The art work the children have created has been exceptional.”

Every Child is An Artist will continue at the school next year. The project will explore topics and art forms in more depth, so that during their time at the primary school, the children will have experienced a broad range of arts and art forms led by professional artists. The project also aims to create a sculpture garden made by the children for the community on site, to provide space for reflection and contemplation.

This is the third year Mercurial Dance have worked with the school, having previously explored complex topics such as neuroscience through dance, and led a week of inspirational talks from professionals such as MPs, company executives and artists as well as workshops and trips, to raise pupils aspirations and explore how they can change their lives and the world around them.

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