We created a bid for our year 2 children to work on a project where they collaborated together and openly discussed their feelings. We had asked specifically for this type of project as post COVID we had noticed that the children found working together far more difficult due to their inability to work in learning partners due to school restrictions. We were paired through the IOA with a company called Cohere Arts; who discussed the needs of the children and then planned a sequence of sessions that were flexible enough to allow the children to lead the sessions through their own wants and needs. This was a great partnership which has been really successful, as an infant school we have found it increasingly difficult to get outside providers to come and do workshops with the age range of children in school. This has been due to the age of the children, their inability to follow any type of COVID restrictions and the inability to have external visitors into school, so this has been a difficult time for children in schools who have not been able to function normally and engage with creative enrichment activities provided externally to the school as they would have pre-pandemic.
Cohere Arts provided two staff for each session and they worked with the children over the afternoon in two groups of 15, the class teacher worked alongside them through the sessions. The classes were made up of a mix of 30 children, 18 girls and 12 boys, 20% of the class are children for whom English is an additional language and 27% who are entitled to free school meals. This type of activity has not featured throughout the children’s first years in education and the opportunity for them to work collegiately as a team has definitely boosted their confidence to work together and perform as a group. This has also allowed them to start thinking about their feelings and provided them with a way to express those emotions and begin to develop strategies to deal with some of those negative feelings. The timing of the workshop also coincided with the children beginning transitioning into Year 3, where they will be leaving our setting to go to Springfield Junior school. Sadly, due to restrictions when the workshops were completed we were unable have parents into school as an audience, but Cohere Arts organised a videographer who came and filmed the children and edited a film together. The film is on Cohere Arts website and on the school website, permissions have also been sought for it to be shown as part of the IOA Hullaballoo. Cohere Arts also provided additional training to other KS1 classes thereby enriching the cultural and creative curriculum in our setting.
We were lucky enough to secure further funding for our other year 2 children to also have the opportunity to work with Cohere Arts and they will be doing a year group performance at the end of the year. In total 90 children will have taken part along with 3 teachers, and CPD mini sessions will be done with 90 children and teaching staff from year 1.