Storyframe Project at Beck Primary School

Amy Willoughby, Assistant Headteacher

We asked Assistant Headteacher Amy Willoughby about her experience of co-creating and delivering creative activities with Sheffield Theatres as part of their Artsmark Award at Beck Primary School. This is what she said.  

Background

Each term, in spring, Year 4 perform a play as part of their topic learning. At Beck we wanted to be able to allow pupils to write their own play but weren’t sure where to start. Many of our pupils hadn’t ever experienced visiting a theatre before and this was a gap in knowledge for them. Staff had some knowledge of theatre and producing a play but this was limited to using a ready written play with songs and music. We saw the opportunity to work with Sheffield Theatres through our Arts Lead, Becky Stroud.

The activity

The project’s main outcomes were to increase teacher subject knowledge, allow pupils the experience of the theatre and writing and performing their own play. The theme of the play was linked to pupils’ interests and they had seen a pantomime in school at Christmas.

Each class of 30 children (3 classes) took part in a weekly drama session in the hall with Malika from Sheffield Theatres. During these sessions, they dramatised and shared ideas for the pantomime project. In English lessons, pupils wrote the script for the play. Pupils rehearsed the play in the hall on the school stage to prepare them for the Crucible Stage.  This was funded through in school trip and outcome budgets for the year with some financial support from the theatre.

Impact

Pupils all participated in the project, collaborated and produced a play that they performed in the Crucible Theatre. Parents attended and this was a wonderful outcome. Pupils gained experience of how a working theatre works and how to produce and perform a play. Pupils achieved the objective and staff subject knowledge was definitely improved.

This year, staff ran their own project in the same style and pupils are currently writing and performing their own Greek myth play. This model is now being diffused to Y6. 

It was great to work with outside agencies and allow pupils to see creative jobs that exist. There were challenges in the differences between how a theatre works in comparison to a school, particularly as schools have to prepare their activities months in advance. There were times when communication wasn’t quite as timely as it could have been in order to organise trips out of school, so those planning to work together should bear this in mind.

It was great to see the children developing their skills and growing in confidence through working with creative professionals. Pupils worked well as a team and develope empathy for one another as they performed. Class teacher – Dionne Lawton

The staff involved have learned a model of how to produce a play that is pupil led. This is now being taught in school.