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The Life of Birds: St Nicholas & St Ebbes Storytelling Project

08/04/2021

Between February and April of 2021, Fusion Arts partnered with St Ebbes Primary School and St Nicholas Primary School to deliver workshops for their Year 6 students. The sessions were led by teacher and community artist Phil Hanaway-Oakley and Fusion projects manager Cathrin Poppensieker and took place at the South Oxford Adventure Playground. The aim of the project was to support the young people through the challenging circumstances brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and as they prepared to transition into secondary school.

Over the course of nine weekly sessions, the children were engaged in a series of creative outdoor activities that explored storytelling through art, music and writing. Being in the park while doing so meant that they could also engage with their local natural features and learn about Oxford's birds and wildlife!

Take a look at what the children created:

“I'm absolutely blown away by the children's art! Their paintings are so beautiful - I knew there were clear benefits for them in terms of their attitudes towards school and transition and the relationships between them, but I hadn't thought too much about the artistic outcomes! I've just come back from an overnight residential with year 6 and your group were on such good form - really relaxed as part of the whole group and seemed to really enjoy the experience, even though it was well out of their comfort zone. Thank you for approaching us and really connecting with our kids - I am so grateful they have had this experience.”

Case Study

E is a highly vulnerable child. He can be a school refuser and during the last lockdown he stopped attending after the first couple of weeks. During the most recent lockdown he was happier to come in and did not miss a Thursday. At the first storytelling session, E was very suspicious and quickly opted out- putting his head down on the desk and refusing to go with the group. We were able to persuade him to give it a go and try to build relationships with Phil and Cathrin. This was a massive step for E – he finds it very hard to trust adults, even those who are well known to him. We can see the benefit for him of getting to know new adults and managing different expectations and boundaries. He tends to be very quiet and withdrawn in school and rarely shows enjoyment or interest. The small group and change of environment (especially outdoors), have enabled E to express himself more easily and begin to show pleasure in the activities. He has been able to begin to ask questions about secondary school and engage in conversation with the other children about their worries.

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Supporters of Fusion Arts

Oxford City Council Arts Council England National Lottery Funded Project Grant National Lottery Community Fund Oxfordshire Community Foundation Here for Culture Doris Field Charitable Trust BBC Children in Need