We feel very lucky to have had a new arts and theatre centre built for the school and community with Government funding. It means we can underpin all areas of the curriculum with the arts. This practical, child-centred approach is proving invaluable, especially with the large number of children at our school who have English as an additional language.
During the initial design stage of the arts centre, the architects asked for the children's ideas and incorporated them into the plans and the children became increasingly involved in the building, both through contact with the architects and designers and through classroom activities.
In after-school art classes, they built scale models of the arts centre and came up with ideas about room size, layout and colour. They attended meetings where they discussed their ideas with the architects, builders and artists. It has really helped them feel the centre is theirs.
One Year 6 class worked with an artist to design the outside paving area and this became the focus of their artwork for the autumn term. They used a variety of media to experiment with and explore the techniques and colours which would create an impressive entrance. The children's designs were transferred on to the paving slabs at the entrance. They look fantastic.
During an environmental study in geography, one Year 4 class suggested that the arts centre could be bordered with flower beds, which would enhance the overall appearance. This suggestion was developed and we now have a regular after-school gardening club helping maintain the garden.
The Ark arts centre has been running for several months and all the ideas that were contributed by the children can be seen. We are still taking full advantage of the opportunities to link not only the performance spaces, but the building itself with the children's learning.
Year 5 class teacher, Sparkenhoe Community Primary School, Leicester