Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Children Learn at Their Leisure

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Children Learn at Their Leisure

Article excerpt

Byline: By Graeme Whitfield

A project to boost creativity in North-East schools has had an immediate impact on pupils' performance.

Barmston School, Washington, was one of a handful of North-East schools to benefit from the Arts Council's Creative Partnerships project.

The school won funding to build a mini leisure-park in its grounds, which it has used for literacy classes.

The project helped the school win the School Grounds Awards 2002/2003 and also saw it rated as the 39th best primary school in the country - and third best in the region - for value-added performance.

Headteacher Ann Henderson said: "Barmston has very little for the local community - few parks or play areas - so the school playground is an oasis in a cultural desert.

"When a child arrives in our school, communications are very poor and their writing skills are very stilted. Some parents can find it more difficult to create the right type of environment for their children to learn.

"However, we want our children to have these creative experiences and learn in new environments. It's about creating an environment where pupils can be stimulated and creating an atmosphere for the children that is more readily remembered.

"Research has shown that our most memorable moments are linked with music, colour, characters and the senses.

"For example we have a pirate ship - some children in Barmston have never had experiences of boats, but now they can have that experience and remember it.

"Children can walk the plank, use pirate language, pretend they are pirates and have fun - it can be a very enriching and sociable experience for the children. They will always remember the experience of being on a ship. Year Six painted the mural, which is really vibrant. Our theory is that if the children take part in building something, then they are not inclined to destroy it and vandalise it. …

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