An Even Better Arbourthorne
An Even Better Arbourthorne (AEBA) is a community project, that runs out of Arbourthorne Community Primary School and is coordinated by Growtheatre CIC. It aims to develop and create fantastic, long-term opportunities to build a better future for our children, their families and the Arbourthorne Community. The project has been running since September 2018 and has gathered real momentum with lots of parents, children, staff and community partners working together to make a difference in Arbourthorne.
During the current COVID-19 situation, staff at Arbourthorne Community Primary School are busier than ever and doing amazing work supporting children and their families both in school and at home. As lockdown began, AEBA began asking the question ‘how can we continue to connect with, support and engage our families and community at this time?’
We have continued some of our frontline work collecting and redistributing surplus food with the help of a small band of amazing volunteers and we immediately moved some of our existing work online as parents were disappointed not to be able to continue to work together. Our Slow Cooker Library Course is an example of this; it is a course for parents who want to learn how to cook healthy and tasty family meals. On the last day that the school was still open to all, we all agreed to ‘meet on Whats’App’ and learn how to cook the recipe – via photos and texts. It was a lot of fun and the group immediately felt connected and supported and so we felt like we were onto something! We have continued to meet weekly and cook together and involve their children in some of the cooking too.
We have used a variety of methods to reach our families, including social media, google classroom, physical packs or kits, online conferencing and films. Some of the things we have got up and running are as follows:
A Story for Arbourthorne – we have committed to posting 2 films a days on a variety of platforms of someone reading or telling a story. One is aimed at children aged 6 and under and the other at older children. We have been overwhelmed by the response of teachers, artists, including Sheffield based storyteller Carmel Page pictured here, friends, family members and Growtheatre’s Youth Theatre Members who have all contributed films – we have had lots of wonderful stories to post and it has inspired some of our families at school to start making story films too!
The Great Easter Egg Competition – we ran a fantastic design an egg competition and had loads of amazing and imaginative designs submitted, it was so hard to choose the winners, who won craft and activity packs. We found running a competition was a great way to get the word out and many parents have reported that the children had so much fun participating and it was a great to spend an afternoon!
Beyond the Book – we have been encouraging children to participate in a regular competition that challenges them to make or do something creative inspired by a book – the response has been so varied and exceedingly creative! The mother of Skyla, pictured here, shared with us,
“It’s been fantastic getting involved in the challenges, both my children have really enjoyed themselves and Skyla has come up with some amazing ideas!”
We are also launching an online book group for parents too! We see this as an important part of AEBA’s work – giving parents, as well as children, a place to connect and support each other.
Red Robin Family Fun Club – not everything we are doing is online, the Red Robin Family Fun Club is one of our regular initiatives, where we run a family club to look after our community garden and grow fruit and vegetables to distribute across the community. Just before the Easter weekend, every member of the club was given a growing kit, which included seeds, compost, pots and windmill! The families are going to grow all the plants that we need for our community garden, as well as some for themselves. We are supporting them in a What’sApp chat and getting to see all their great growing work. We have also put a call out for more families to get involved and are putting together new growing kits.
Family Art Sessions – Jayne Cooper is the school’s artist in residence and she has worked with us to get art sessions online. She has been thinking really carefully about doing art activities with things that people will have around the house and we have had a very positive response from families who have been missing her sessions. We are putting together a basic craft kit for families who might not have the basics and will be getting them out to them, so that they can take part with ease. We are delighted that Jayne and so many other creative people want to get involved and support the project’s work.
New ideas are taking shape all the time, parents and staff approach us with ideas and we try and be as responsive as possible. We are also bringing together a group of children (virtually, of course) to come up with new ides, inform what our offer is to help us with our planning.