This is the story of a man with a vision. That vision began with the rather forlorn Derry’s Building in Plymouth. At this point, Michael Gove had announced his Free School movement. At this point Professor Andrew Brewerton @ajbrewerton had a vision for a school to transform his community; The city centre of Plymouth. He decided to provide a radical alternative to the present system. His vision will become a reality and in September 2013 the Plymouth School of Creative Arts will open.
Ultimately this school will be an all through 4-16 school. Each Primary year group will care for 60 children and each secondary year group will care for 120 children. The school has a simple but incredible goal. To empower children to find their passion through art and develop outstanding academic skills as a consequence. The goal of the school is “learn, make, discover”. The School shares some of the ideology of the Reggio Emilia Movement and indeed some of the thinking of the Unschooling Movement.
This has been distilled to the essence of the entire project:
The community now has a school by the sea (40m from the waterfront)
It is a school in an area of urban regeneration, Millbay in Plymouth.
It is not in a leafy suburb, it is not a middle class area. Here is a recent article about night time activities in the area.
This school will transform the lives of residents and children alike. It is at the heart of its community.
And what now?
- The school has a site.
- The school has a Head teacher.
- The school has a lot of work to do.
You can watch Dave Strudwick the Head teacher, talk about the project here:
The School opens in September 2013 for KS1 – and the team have an incredible amount of work to do.
One huge piece of work is to build a curriculum from scratch. In 6 months. With a staff of 3. (no teachers have as yet been appointed, which is entirely normal for this stage of the process). I’m helping to design that.
The curriculum vision is simple. To enable children to learn through the act of making. The year will be divided into long term projects, each of which will culminate in the creation of something. The creation could be an artefact, a play, a film, a painting, or even a shed or a boat ( not model sheds or boats….real sheds & boats). The concept of a project will be to present children with an incredible, seductive, consuming ‘hook’ to ensnare the children and draw them into an incredible narrative, culminating in a celebration of making.
All learning will come from the project, including Maths and English. The making and creating will be the focus, learning in subjects will be an outcome, a serendipitous by product.
This leads to an immediate and pressing need: Ideas.
The School needs dozens of compelling projects with ‘hooks’ and ideas for products & creations. So, if you feel moved, and have a story or idea that could be used, then please share your idea.
Near Millbay, there was a luggage store, for the Great Western Railway.
In that store, was a baggage chute. Through this chute passed thousands of suitcases containing the lives of people leaving and arriving through the port of Millbay. What were the stories of the people who passed through there? Which of those passengers graced the world stage?
The chute has its own story, it became the centre piece of the Fine Arts Show at Plymouth University in 2012
Each of these children is taking a journey. through life. This chute, which is, or was, rusting quietly on the site of the new school , symbolises the start of the journey of the school. What could better fit a project for the children?
What are your stories?
What part of your legacy would you pass on to these children, learning in a school at a gateway to the world?
NB: the images contained in this blog are embedded, none are copied. Click on the picture to see the image on the website behind the frame.