State and private schools team up for unique art project
Published: Wednesday, February 9, 2022
An innovative partnership between Wandsworth’s state and independent schools has led to a major collaborative art project – with an exhibition due to open at Southside Shopping Centre next month.
A Place to Call Home is led by local artist Alexander Mourant working with Wandsworth Council’s children’s services and arts teams and more than 1500 students from 51 local schools.
Children have been encouraged to reconnect with their sense of being part of their local community in response to the distance and isolation felt during the pandemic. Pupils from years 5, 6 and 7 have been provided with materials, lesson plans and workshops to encourage them to express themselves creativity.
Each class has produced an artwork panel, which will form part of a group installation to be exhibited in a unit generously donated by Southside. The schools can each keep their own panel after the public exhibition.
The panel from John Burns Primary School
The free exhibition will open to the public between March 4 and March 25, and everyone is welcome to go along to take a look and contribute their thoughts about community. The students will also go to see the exhibition, with schools partnering up for the trip so that pupils get a chance to interact with other young people.
Feedback from schools has been overwhelmingly positive. Ellen Loughnan, headteacher of Brandlehow School, said: “Working in partnership with one another during this project has led to valuable longer-term relationships between independent and state schools and a network which will continue to grow once the exhibition has closed. Young people involved in the project continue to celebrate their achievements within it and to talk so positively about the work and its impact.
“The final exhibition with work from over 2000 pupils, displayed equally, will be a wonderful collaborative expression of how important these communities have been for our recovery from the height of the pandemic and is a project without barriers or borders.”
A Place to Call Home is a key part of the new collaborative partnership between the borough’s state and independent schools. The aim is to make the partnership mutually beneficial for pupils, teachers and school leaders, with local hubs created to encourage communication and connections between schools.
The partnership will make creative and academic resources and opportunities open to all the borough’s young people, and will enable teachers to share best practice, offer further opportunities for students to collaborate, and target high attaining pupils as well as those most in need of extra support.
Other projects that have already sprung out of the partnership include careers fairs at Putney High School and Emanuel School attended by students from St Cecilia’s, Ernest Bevin and Saint John Bosco College, and revision and GCSE booster sessions hosted by independent schools and attended by children from state schools.
Ernest Bevin and Emanuel are also teaming up on a film project over February half term, and Saint John Bosco is working with Putney High on a project to build, test and compete with robots.
The council’s arts team has played a key role in A Place to Call Home as part of their work to put art at the heart of local communities. The new Wandsworth Council Arts and Culture Strategy prioritises community-based projects, with extensive work planned through the Creative Wandsworth partnership to enable young people to discover their creativity.
The council’s cabinet member for education and children’s services Cllr Will Sweet said: “The partnership between state and independent schools has been going for a few months now, and we have created the structure to enable schools to talk to each other and work together, with many more projects in the pipeline. Our hope is that the partnership will help all our young people, whatever their background, reach their academic and creative potentials.
“It has already resulted in some fantastic collaborative projects, but A Place to Call Home is the biggest so far, with hundreds of children from many of our schools taking part, including the virtual school and the Frances Barber pupil referral unit.
“The pandemic affected us all, and I’m please we were able to help young people explore their thoughts and feelings, while at the same time realising that other children from all walks of life had similar experiences. I would encourage everyone to go down to Southside to see what they created.”