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Thinking Differently Returns

16th March 2021

What is Thinking Differently?

‘Thinking Differently’ is an innovative project funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation which has seen Meadow Arts work in three Special Education Needs Schools to look at the connection between high quality contemporary visual art teaching and the development of children in terms of their expression, communication skills and self-confidence. We are working with groups of children in Year 7 and 8 over a period of 20 weekly sessions.

A boy plays with a model made from a cardboard box


‘To get such a long period of time to spend in each school is such a rare privilege and already you can see how strong the relationships are with artists, pupils and teachers,’ explains Steve Wilson, Education and Engagement Manager.

The project is being supported by one of the UK’s leading arts education organisations, House of Imagination and their director Penny Hay. Penny and her team are supporting our artists as well as offering insights into different ways of working for the partner schools. The results of the work will be evaluated by the University of Worcester and we are really interested in seeing the progression of the children’s learning achievements as well as their confidence and self-expression.

The project has, due to Covid, been stop/start. Thankfully, with schools returning the project is set to fully commence again and all the partners cannot wait to get fully back in gear.

We are working in three schools. These are Westfield School in Leominster; Chadsgrove School in Bromsgrove; and Regency High School in Worcester. Westfield has in fact been carrying on with its weekly sessions and these have been led by Sally Harper, one of our most experienced Creative Practitioners.

“After such a long break due to the Covid Pandemic, it’s great to be back in the classroom again. The group rises to a new challenge every week, as I deliver workshop-style activities that are experimental and open-ended. Its been a real breakthrough for some of the students too, as some felt that they didn't like art very much but are now saying its their favourite lesson as they are really good at it! We have painted, collaged, sculpted and drawn so far, with plenty more ideas to explore in future sessions.” - Sally Harper

A view from above of a boy making drawings on a round table in school

We’ll be starting up again at Bromsgrove in the summer term after a long enforced break, once again with Sally. Regency High’s project is due to begin, working with another of our experienced Creative Practitioners, Mark Riley.

The aim is to get all the sessions completed by the end of the summer term and then to begin to evaluate the completed work. It’s been a real challenge through the Pandemic but everyone has remained fully committed to the project.

‘From its initial aim to look at how different people learn and create, this project has become one of the most important pieces of education and engagement work Meadow Arts has been involved with.’ - Steve Wilson