Chapter and Verse
Chapter & Verse is a creative peer mentoring programme, designed as an intensive learning residency for both teacher and artist, across six weeks. It was funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation‘s Teacher Development Fund. Over two academic years (2020-22), Grimm & Co and Astrea Academy Trust have delivered the project across 8 primary schools in South Yorkshire, worked with 12 teachers and reached 376 year four pupils, resulting in 2,030 creative experiences. We used the Literacy Tree format –the book-based teaching framework used by Astrea -alongside a toolkit designed by Grimm & Co to incorporate our signature pedagogy into the National Curriculum. The toolkit enhanced the teaching and learning experience for both teachers and pupils, enabling more creative exploration to take place in the Literacy lesson. Equally, the project was designed as a learning process for teachers and artists to share expertise and build creative courage.
One of the most significant outcomes from this piece of work has been the time given to teachers to play and experiment. Throughout our teacher/artist reflections, we identified dozens of different examples of teachers demonstrating an invitation to play or expressing how they felt they had been given permission to be more creative.
What we did:
We created two immersive theatre spaces to use on the project and named them The Bridge (connecting the world of the story to the human world) and gifted these to Astrea Academy Trust. The Bridge Between was used most successfully as a tool to engage and inspire. The props around the space provided writing prompts and stimuli to ignite children’s imaginations. The act of rummaging through cupboards and exploring intricate objects created a sense of adventure and placed the child in the role of the investigator, the role of the expert.
We were inspired by this notion of a place of learning where the learner interprets the learning, and this contributed to the creative courage approach we were hoping to observe in teachers. As the Bridge Between was filled with props and stimuli directly linked to the studied text, teachers were able to relinquish a certain level of control, trusting in the pupils to continue the learning narrative through interaction with the space.
Gemma Thornton, Creative Learning Manager for Schools stated, “Our signature pedagogy, the method that we use, has creativity at its core. We empower children to feel in control of their literacy journey and turn the banal into something curious and intriguing. By establishing this environment where imagination is what counts, teachers have witnessed moments that have surprised them regarding their pupils’ use of challenging vocabulary, immersing themselves in the play, and ridding themselves of boundaries.”
To date, the overwhelming success of the project lies in how the core group of Chapter & Verse ambassadors now view the teaching of writing. They talk with such passion about how the project changed their practice and this can be seen in the units they continue to teach daily. As part of the training, they sit with participants and look through their next English units, planning in some of the Grimm & Co activities alongside them. We have also seen a focus on audience and purpose, and the understanding of the need for immersion and imagination in writing, steadily growing in visibility and shared language across schools. writing from the half term to their parents/carers. This raised the profile and importance of writing and has been shared as strong practice across the trust.
We also partnered with Sheffield Hallam University and explored the jeopardy that pupils face when invited to play around with educational rules. This short film highlights our research and the children’s participation in the journey.