SEND Mentor Opportunity: In-SituNovember 18, 2022
Cornerstones of CultureDecember 8, 2022
...and everything in between
The 'from HEAD to TOE' project, funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation, aims to explore the role of the creative, moving body as a means to increase concentration, engagement and recall in English and Math, as well as produce memorable experiences.
Our AimsThe main priorities we were looking to explore through the this project are for pupils to improve their skills in retaining and recalling key vocabulary and subject knowledge, and to gain autonomy over their learning. For teachers, we were hoping to see a stronger understanding of arts-based learning, better ability to articulate and advocate for the practice, and for education settings to explore how dance and movement based strategies can be embedded across the curriculum, beyond PE.
The journey so farTo date we have explored a range of topics within the English and Maths curricula, including word class, descriptive, narrative and report writing, poetry, place value, spellings and times tables. Our research has resulted in a range of full lesson plans (ranging from one hour up to a full day), as well as short tasks and games to support recall and memory (for topics like spelling and times tables).
Movement interventions have been used to support pupils to maintain or regain focus throughout the learning day and before and after key transitions.
The practical delivery of this project has been planned as a partnership between the teachers and artists - uniting the expertise from both areas - and also through live collaboration in the moment. The content has been refined and is taken back to the classroom for further exploration. This approach is beginning to support strategies that can be embedded for both pupils and teachers, and sees us starting to shift towards a new way of learning.
These trends appear to be a persistent factor for lower Key Stage 2 pupils, despite returning to a more regular school life, and appear to have a direct relationship with concentration and engagement.
Physical creative strategies for learning
Interventions to support the nervous system and regulation of the body
Some pleasant surprises!The creative element and ethos of Blue Moose Dance’s work is centred on a participant-focused, youth-voice approach. This certainly had potential for a research project of this type and, indeed, was one of our key drivers. However, it has had a bigger impact than we first realised - both for pupils and teachers.
Pupils are independently recalling rhythms, patterns, movements and visualisations from our sessions to support their application of learning in written tasks. Teachers, on the other hand, are identifying methods of assessment that utilise physical, creative strategies - opening up a new avenue for evaluating retainment and recall of key subject knowledge, whilst allowing pupils to be more engaged and interested in these moments (and to meet their ranging physical needs in the process).
"Pupils are independently recalling rhythms, patterns, movements and visualisations to support their application of learning"
What's next?As we shift into the 2nd year of this two-year project, we aim to further refine our strategies and methodologies and to empower teachers to take on this practice as a regular part of their delivery.
We are in talks with schools to embed these approaches into future curriculum design and are planning to meet with Governors, Local Authority School Advisers and the wider arts and education sectors to share our findings and advocate for this practice further.
- Sarah Hall and Sarah Gough (Dance Artists, Blue Moose Dance Company)
- Laura Broome (Project Manager)
- Dr Fiona Bannon (Evaluator and Critical Friend)
- Justine Watkins Fife (Marketing Consultant)
- Paul Hamlyn Foundation
- Pat Cochrane (Evaluation support)
- Chaucer Primary School, Fleetwood
- Nateby Primary School
- Pilling St John’s Primary School
- Stalmine Primary School
- St Josephs Primary School
Blue Moose Dance Company