The creative art of communication

6th June 2003 at 01:00
Can creative activities help to build creative relationships? This question was uppermost in our minds when we asked Tony Minnion and Sarah Pimenta from London arts organisation Cloth of Gold to structure screen-printing projects with one class from each of Years 2, 4, and 6. These include children who find collaborative working difficult, have a tendency to be aggressive and find it hard to respect each other's work.

Edmund Waller is one of eight schools in our Excellence in Cities Action Zone "Creating Success". We tried lots of strategies: profile drawing; scribble games; expressive mark-making to describe feelings; making flags that describe pupils' history and aspirations; statue games that explored body language and collaborative fabric-printing sessions.

Pupils worked with enthusiasm and aplomb, resulting in shifts in personal relationships. They spoke of releasing tensions and anger through expressive drawing and silently "talking" with each other through monoprinting with their fingertips. Pupils we expected to struggle with each other found common ground through working creatively together, and this continued in the playground. Pupils have developed more positive attitudes to their achievements and to each other and teachers valued the experience.

Ruth Spencer, class teacher and EAZ co-ordinator, Edmund Waller Primary School, New Cross, Lewisham

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