School name: Cefn Hengoed Community School
Headteacher: Mrs Sue Hollister
Number of pupils: 672
Cefn Hengoed Community School has embarked on the Lead Creative School Project - a collaborative scheme funded jointly by the Welsh Government and The Arts Council of Wales.
With the help of Creative Agent Sarah Hopkins, the school has devised a STEM based project called ‘Build’ which targeted a group of Year 8 pupils who are middle to low ability learners who in the main are disengaged, lacking in confidence and aspiration.
Deputy Headteacher Mrs Heather Cooper said: “Our aim for this project was to re-engage them in school, increase their confidence and enjoyment in learning, and raise their standards in Science and Numeracy, all through creative, practical activity.
“We had a launch day at the end of January 2016 at the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea, where we had an architect from the firm who designed the building come along and give an inspirational talk to the pupils.”
‘Build’ days were held during February 2016, where two practitioners from the Turner Prize winning group Assemble came to the school and spent time with the pupils.
They were based in one area of the school and given a range of activities to do by the artists.
This involved looking at structures and materials, in particular, concrete and culminated in the pupils making concrete tiles and forms themselves.
“The teachers who were timetabled to teach them during the day accompanied them during their lessons which meant that they had direct involvement in the build activities and challenges and could best plan any follow up lessons that emerged from them,” added Mrs Cooper.
“It became apparent during this period that the scope for curricular links with their activities was wider than we anticipated and teachers whose subject hadn’t originally been included in the project were able to suggest learning opportunities and follow up lessons.”
The project is currently ongoing, with pupils being assessed throughout and conclusions will be drawn towards the end of the academic year to establish what outcomes have been achieved.
Initial findings from observing the pupils during the launch and build days have been promising.
“All the pupils engaged in the activities with enthusiasm, they were able to work together, sometimes resolving issues in order to get themselves back on task and several have raised or changed their long term career aspirations since taking part in this project,” said Mrs Cooper.