Posted by Sophie Hunter
We’re delighted to have been offered work in 2 primary schools in the Locality C Learning Collaboration cluster in Sheffield. These are 14 schools that have come together to support children with exceptional needs through using creative practice in the classroom. We’ve been given 2 really different schools – Y3s in one form entry St Theresa’s Catholic Primary, and Y1s in 3 form entry Tinsley Nursery Infants. Rachel is working with St Theresa’s, and I’m in Tinsley .
In Tinsley, the year 1s have not done any drama before, and the vast majority of children are EAL. There are lots of SEN kids too. Many of the children have extremely limited English and haven’t been in school very much. But all the kids are delightful and thrilled to be trying something new on a Friday! The 3 teachers I’m working with are really friendly, enthusiastic and open to trying new things in the classroom too. I’m trying to use only exercises and games that they will be able to replicate themselves after the project is over.
Their theme this half term is ‘Pop Up’ and they’ve been looking at traditional fairy tales and pop up books. Our project is using the story of Little Red Riding Hood as a basis for introducing drama, characterisation and new language to the children. As the project is specifically focussed on raising attainment, we’ve devised a simple method (the joys of lists and post-its!) to track the children’s progress as the weeks roll on – it felt important to set that up at the very beginning.
Week one: we introduced basic drama language and exercises, as well as the story and characters of Little Red Riding Hood. The children responded really well and the teachers were thrilled that the drama already seemed to be reaching the children that often don’t engage in class. The teachers have the story built into their literacy plans for the next week, so they can keep reinforcing the language we were using too.
Week two: the staff asked me to come into school in role. I’d planned all of the characters from the story, and brought in costume pieces, and so the children picked who they wanted to meet. During their literacy sessions during the week, they had also planned questions to ask each of the characters. The response from each of the classes was very different, but all positive. By far my favourite response was one of the boys (who last week wouldn’t even say his name out loud) who decided he wanted to put on the Granny costume (frilly hat, glasses, full length nightie and shawl) and before our eyes morphed into role – we hot seated him in front of the class, and he stayed in role for the whole time, coming up with the most outlandish and magical answers to our spontaneous questions! Pretty impressive for a 6 year old! Equally pleasing was (1) listening to one of the classes play me their ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ themed woodland music (that I’m hoping to respond to with drama in our next session) and (2) in our planning meeting, listening to the teachers talking about the drama exercises that they would try to replicate in their own classes this week, building new characters with the children.
Roll on next week!