Keir Hardie is a primary school with a strong arts offering. When they began their Artsmark journey, they identified areas to further develop including cross-curricular work, CPD, and digital.
School staff were part of the East London Arts Award Network, delivered in partnership with Creative Schools and supported by A New Direction. In 2019, the network had run a CPD session on cross-curricular learning that featured the Algorithmic Art project. Keir Hardie staff found the CPD useful and, amongst their other partnerships, they signed up to run this programme with the whole of Year 5 in the summer term 2020 and embed Arts Award as part of this work.
Disciplines: Computing, Mathematics, Art & Design
Algorithmic Art is a tried and tested project and CPD that has been very popular due to its truly interdisciplinary nature and its ability to engage learners. It is a cross-curricular arts, mathematics, and digital (computing) project designed to expose children to digital art whilst increasing enjoyment of learning with technology, as well as enhancing the teaching and learning of mathematics.
COVID-19 meant the project could not take place in person as planned. The project had to be moved to the autumn term and adapted to be delivered digitally via video conferencing.
I just wanted to send a huge thank you for the tremendous project we have been able to pull off - in the current Covid climate something on this scale is not easy to put together but it worked seamlessly.
– Year 5 Teacher
Openness to new ways of working, adaptability, and a can-do attitude from both Keir Hardie’s and Artsmark Partners meant that the pandemic did not pause their Artsmark journey or the creative opportunities for staff and pupils. Instead, it enabled them to try new and exciting ways of working in partnership.
A Little Learning’s team, along with the school’s Artsmark lead and a member of their SLT, ran a planning session to ensure the project would respond to the school’s needs, fit with the Artsmark aims and objectives, and challenge the school to try new and innovative ways to embed creative learning throughout their Artsmark journey. Further sessions were planned with other members of staff to ensure the project could run remotely, to test equipment and video conferencing platforms, as well as address any safeguarding concerns.
A Little Learning facilitators then ran a two hour online briefing for the Artsmark lead and key staff from each participating class. The facilitators went through how the entire programme would run, talked through the Arts Award element, explored the digital requirements, including equipment needs, as well as online platforms that were used to share learning and other logistic elements, including children joining from home if isolating. The teachers tried out some of the practical tasks and examined the mathematical and computing element of the programme to ensure it was pitched at the right level of children’s prior learning.
A Little Learning also designed a bespoke Arts Award booklet that was used for the aims of this project and for future Arts Award programmes, promoting sustainability and internal capacity building.
A digital platform called Padlet was used to share resources, updates, extension activities, inspirational videos, and Arts Award info and resources. The use of this platform enabled the children to work independently and at their own pace, taking responsibility for their own learning journeys.
The whole of Keir Hardie’s Year 5 cohort was taught weekly for six weeks by A Little Learning facilitators between November and December 2020. Lessons took place simultaneously online using Google Classroom and in physical classrooms with teachers and support staff. With the project being delivered digitally, children isolating were included as they were able to join the session online from their homes. The project was fully delivered by A Little Learning’s facilitators whilst the teachers were there to support and extend the learning using the resources provided by A Little Learning. They also received CPD to replicate elements of the work beyond the project. The teachers also did some activities with the children between sessions.
The feedback from the teachers tells us that the project and the way it was run enhanced the students' and teachers’ practice (and A Little Learning’s for that matter). The school had not tried something like this before. They commented how exposing the children to inspirational and real content had sparked an interest in digital creative industries and wanted to find out more. That was an unexpected result for school staff but an integral part of the project’s design.
The interdisciplinary approach meant that the mathematical element was relevant to the learning and had a direct and visible application in how the coding worked, and consequently how the digital artwork was influenced.
Your lessons will be sorely missed! Thank you again for creating a great class culture which promoted curiosity and engagement at all times
– Year 5 Teacher
The teachers and students developed a range of skills, from coding, to design and composition, to artistic process and team working. They experienced first hand a very interdisciplinary way of working. Students and teachers developed their understanding of the broadness of the arts and expanded their knowledge on digital artforms and the use of code in a range of creative industries and beyond.
Through this process, A Little Learning developed their digital delivery programme and, as a result, was commissioned to run a series of CPD sessions on Digital Learning for East London primary schools via the Creative Schools Programme. A Little Learning is delivering a whole programme of exciting creative digital projects for schools involving literacy, numeracy, games design, animation, and music technology.