How engaging in performances and events can build community for Early Years and Foundation Stage

Amy Willoughby, Create Sheffield’s Creative Education Producer and Assistant Headteacher at Beck School welcomed speakers to discuss how engaging in performances and events can build community for Early Years and Foundation Stage (EYFS). Speakers included Becky Stroud from Beck Primary School, Polly Ives from Concerteenies, Jane Cooper Artist in Residence at Arbourthorne Community Primary School, Vanessa Langley Headteacher at Arbourthorne, Julie Brearley from the Family Adult and Community Education Service (FACES) and Kate Dudley from Sheffield City Council (SCC).  This event was part of the ‘Why Creativity Matters NOW’ strand of the Learn Sheffield Autumn Online Festival. 

During this event, Polly shared information about Chatterbox Music, alongside Becky Stroud, Arts Lead at Beck Primary and Chatterbox Co-creator and Project Manager.

Chatterbox Music is an exciting 18-month music project taking place in four Sheffield Primary Schools in the Cascade Multi Academy Trust (MAT).  It is bringing together around 350 children aged 2-5, their families, early years school staff and professional musicians to co-create a collection of accessible musical activities and songs to encourage language acquisition, social and verbal communication. Interestingly, this project has been part-funded by the Cascade MAT, with each school coming together to provide the match-funding for the Youth Music fund application.

During the event, Polly and Becky talk about how creativity has the potential to celebrate everyone's abilities and can be used across the curriculum areas. This particular project has been something all the schools in the MAT can get involved with; it is accessible to children of all backgrounds, cultures and abilities, and it has engaged the community of parents and carers.  You can read more on the Concerteenies website

Artist in Residence at Arbourthorne School

Arbourthorne Community Primary School, led by Headteacher Vanessa, is a very special school. The children have the privilege of working with Visual Artist Jane Cooper, who has been Artist in Residence at the school for 14 years. Arbourthorne sits in an area of high deprivation in Sheffield and large percentage of their children have special educational needs. Arbourthone have used their Pupil Premium funds to support Jane’s role, who works at the school two days a week. This role started as a 6-month experiment, which has been so successful that Jane continues to be in her role today. 

Historically, Vanessa had worked with Jane before at another school, and saw the power her work had in developing children's speech and language skills. The surprise outcome of this work was the strong connection it developed with the community, particularly with parents and carers which became a very powerful part of the work in Arbourthorne Primary.  

Eleanor Churchward and Julie Brearly from FACES and SCC shared some of the ways their 50 Things to Do Before You’re Five app & website has been used in community settings.

50 Things to Do Before You’re Five offers a menu of free exciting activities for families in Sheffield with young children, giving them great suggestions for how to have fun and learn at the same time, developed with educational experts and early years practitioners. These activities support families to develop positive health and wellbeing habits, they prepare children for future learning and are inclusive and diverse with either no, or very low cost. The team at FACES offer special workshops that bring these activities to life, for more information you can contact Julie or Eleanor at and

These case studies are well worth watching in full. If you missed this session and would like to find out more about what was presented, you can watch the recording here


About Create Sheffield 

Create Sheffield is Sheffield’s Cultural Education Partnership, it exists to take the young people of Sheffield on ‘a journey into the arts, culture and heritage sectors, benefiting the lives of all those in Sheffield aged 0-24. Create Sheffield is supported byIVE, the Arts Council Bridge Organisation for Yorkshire and the Humber and also has received support from other organisations in Sheffield.  


Create Sheffield ask everyone who has attended one of the sessions or watched the replay to fill in a ‘Getting to Know You’ form to help us gather your thoughts and needs, in order to inform Create Sheffield’s Cultural and Creative Education Strategy that will be implemented from january 2022.

In return for filling in the form, you will:

  • Have the opportunity to shape future CPD sessions to suit your needs and interests
  • Have access to CPD opportunities
  • Shape opportunities for further networking
  • Have the option to join and create networks and sessions that support your learning
  • Have the opportunity to share & shout about creative and cultural learning projects 
  • Have your voice heard!

Participant (education) Getting to Know You form

Participant (Arts & Cultural Partners) Getting to Know You form.