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Our working relationship - Emma and Steven

Submitted by Education on Thu, 03/03/2016 - 16:00

Artist Educator Emma Corinne has worked with Star Primary in Newham for nearly two years, delivering cross-curricular art sessions for children from Nursery to Year 6 that culminate in eye-catching displays. This term she is supporting Years 3 and 6 to develop their observational drawing skills through weekly PPA cover sessions. She is also helping Reception children to gain  confidence in their wood working skills, and working with Nursery to provide free flow creative activities and an after-school family learning programme.

Here Emma and Assistant Headteacher Steven Carbutt talk about their working relationship, celebrating children’s art skills and why communication is key.

Steven on Emma: 

Over the course of nearly two years as our artist in residence, Emma has become a familiar professional in school, impacting on the skills of the children and contributing to the school learning environment. Through reflection and discussion, Emma’s role had developed - she has always been passionate about cultivating her role as the ‘artist’ and we have also worked collaboratively to develop her role as a teacher of art skills at Star.

Planning sessions with art skills and the whole school theme as a starting point, Emma has always taken our initial ideas and creatively thought about how the children could achieve the outcome alongside developing their skills. It has been delightful to work with an artist who has ambitious expectations of the pupils, has a clear understanding of the Headteacher’s vision for the school and, over her period of time at Star, has built relationships with our pupils and school community.

Collaboration between Emma and me has been essential in order for the projects to be successful, have purpose, and have an impact on the pupils and school. There is a great level of trust in Emma, that she will produce, alongside our pupils, exceptional pieces for the school - we know that our pupils’ experience of art will be enriched by working with Emma.

The successful projects in school are clearly visible. A KS1 display mural depicting the landscape of London sits seamlessly with a sculpture depicting the varying cultures at Star. Her contribution to the school learning environment is clearly noticeable, with work by pupils displayed on every floor of the building.

Emma on Steven:

Steven and I work together to come up with creative approaches to supporting school topic learning through targeting specific skills such as drawing or printing within a year group. Typically, Steven approaches me with a topic and possible skills and I mock up a few ideas which we discuss at a planning meeting with Bow Arts. We often catch each other in the hall, between lessons and after school to build on ideas through conversation and look over the children’s work in progress. Steven is full of creative spark and is a great bouncer for ideas and positivity. If I am ever stuck about a certain outcome or needing some thoughts for final touches, Steven is brimming with ideas, is really easy to talk to and always enthusiastic about celebrating the children’s creativity.

I take the initial ideas away and apply my personal artistic experience and knowledge of materials to planning and delivering art workshops in class. The “final piece” is really celebrated at Star Primary, and the children’s work is up on display on every floor, which is a testimony to Steven and (Headteacher) Cathy’s appreciation and value for the arts in education.

I really think that the children’s drawing skills have improved greatly over the past two years. Their confidence in art making has grown and many children express the feeling that they are getting better at drawing and feel more able to tackle certain drawing tasks. My favourite piece of all has to be the Year 1 and 2 fire of London display in the bottom hall. This piece explores drawing and painting skills using many mediums and approaches to looking at buildings, structures, line, shadow and patterns. The two years groups worked with me to create the final piece which I think is a real colourful celebration of their free expression and connection to learning about London today and in the past.