Creativity, Wellbeing and Personal Development
In this section
- Arts for Wellbeing
- Effective Communication to Support Personal Development
- Supporting Wellbeing Through New and Existing Resources
- Using Arts and Creativity to Support Transition
Arts for Wellbeing
Schools used creativity to support pupil wellbeing and reconnection to their learning throughout the pandemic. Since then, schools have continued to adapt to and support the changing mental health and wellbeing needs of children and young people, both sensitively and creatively.
“The Arts develop compassion, tolerance, empathy, interpersonal skills a respect and understanding of difference along with the development of new skills, resilience and a creative way of solving problems. These lifelong skills are not achieved through pure academic study or a narrow curriculum.”
– Julia Wisbey, Assistant Head, Admiral Lord Nelson School, Portsmouth
Effective Communication to Support Personal Development
Learning to communicate effectively is a fundamental skill all pupils need to develop. Arts, culture and creativity have a significant role to play in helping children and young people find their voice and use it.
One of our Creative Development Networks, Fluid Motion Theatre Company and Wildern School in Hampshire worked with schools to support groups of Year 8 pupils with their mental health, wellbeing and capacity to reconnect with their learning.
Through an immersive approach over eight weeks, pupils learned to use theatre techniques to explore, understand and communicate how they feel about school and the challenges they face currently in their lives. These pupils have gone on to become Creative Wellbeing Ambassadors in their schools and to share the benefits of their experience with other pupils.
The work is still ongoing and is making a huge difference to how these young people see themselves and how this has enabled them to reconnect with their learning. They report increased levels of confidence and an improved ability to express and understand their feelings. Fluid Motion Theatre Company have reported that the NHS has now commissioned this programme for use with young people through Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
Leigh Johnson, Artistic Director, Fluid Motion and Harriet Jones, Assistant Head, Wildern School shared the following impact of the programme:
“We use a clinically recognised wellbeing scale (The Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale) to measure the impact of the project on the mental health of the young people. The data from partner school Wildern is as follows:
- At the start of the project 64% of the group reported levels of low wellbeing. This reduced to just 36% by the end of the 8-week programme.
- By the end of the programme there was a meaningful positive change in the wellbeing of 80% of the group.
- 83% of the young people at Wildern said they feel more empowered and able to talk about their mental health and better equipped to improve their own wellbeing.
- 83% of the young people at Wildern said they now recognise how the arts can help improve their health and wellbeing.”
As part of our Creative Steps programme Holbrook and Bedenham Primary schools, worked with their Mentor, Emma Cairns, STEAM lead at Bridgemary School in Gosport, to deliver an ambitious week-long cross-curricular STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Maths) programme for Year 2 pupils. Based around the story ‘Iggy Peck Architect’ they focused on maths, literacy and design technology as well as covering other curriculum areas.
Alongside this, they developed a wellbeing survey for the children whereby each morning they registered, through a face icon, how they were feeling. This was followed up with a conversation with teachers and support staff to find out more and led to the pupils learning to talk about what they were feeling and why. Over the week, the impact on their ability to engage, participate and concentrate on their project improved hugely, as did the range of positive icons around feelings being used. This has been such a success with the children that it has now become part of the daily routine for all children, resulting in a positive impact right across the school.
Supporting Wellbeing Through New and Existing Resources
Schools have been endlessly inventive in the sensitive ways they have approached enabling their pupils to re-engage with their learning, post-pandemic. It has often required a complete re-think of provision to maximise new and existing resources, inside the classroom and surrounding school environment.
Gosport and Fareham Multi Academy Trust (GFMAT), comprising seven schools, two of which are secondary, Bay House and Brune Park, developed their innovative Atelier programme, which supports pupils who continue to find being in school difficult, through an art therapy intervention. The schools have designed bespoke Atelier studio spaces, based on a successful Italian programme. This enables pupils to access the curriculum through working with arts partners and a therapist to learn new skills, build confidence and reconnect with their learning and community. Pupils have a great deal of agency and can work creatively at their own pace. The programme often involves working outside and has had such a positive impact on the wellbeing and mindset of these pupils that it has been rolled out so that a cohort of pupils in each year group can benefit from it.
Go to Establish Effective Arts and Cultural Partnerships resource to download ppt.
Understanding the strengths of your school’s environment and geography can be key to building a successful creative and cultural offer that promotes positive wellbeing. Two key examples of this were presented at our Creative Approaches to Outdoor Learning CPD.
Gomer School in Gosport, also part of the GFMAT, presented the benefits of being a Beach School. This approach sparked curiosity for the environment and ensured that local children accessed their nearby beach, learned from and enjoyed it. The beach is very much embedded in the school curriculum. It boosts children’s confidence, self-esteem, social skills and wellbeing, as well as their academic performance. The sensory experience for pupils provides the opportunity for learning through hearing, smell, taste and touch which Gomer use effectively to stimulate creative writing. Visiting the beach with a local artist looking at seascapes they discover how to create their own outdoor art using collected sea glass, driftwood, chalk and shells. They make creative outdoor shelters on the beach exploring the materials and their suitability. These creative experiences have inspired children to use the beach creatively with their families as a place for positive wellbeing.
Gomer Beach School CPD
Pashley Down Infant School in Eastbourne shared the benefits of using their geographical setting. Their three-form infant school is surrounded by the South Downs with their own woodland, farm, pond and allotment, which they use across each year group to provide quality outdoor learning, adding value to the curriculum. They also use the woodland as a focus for inter-generational outdoor learning projects, bringing parents and children together.
Using Arts and Creativity to Support Transition
Transition at all levels is challenging for pupils, especially when they move from their familiar routines and communities. We recognise the important role arts and creativity can play in promoting a positive and supportive approach to transition.
The role that the arts can have in developing confidence in children was explored in the first of our CPD programmes presented by the River Project in North Oxon. It showcased three projects that used creative and therapeutic approaches to support children as they change schools. Carol Wild’s presentation about The River project she led explains how physical and creative experiences helped children articulate and represent their concerns and hopes for secondary schools.
‘Exploring the Familiar’ was an innovative 3D art and augmented reality project for Year 6 children from five schools in Brighton and Hove to help with their transition from primary to secondary school. Working with artists, Brighton Museum and the Centre for Secure Intelligence and Usable Systems at the University of Brighton, the project used psychogeography (the intersection between Psychology and Geography) to map the children’s everyday routes to school.
“For this [psychogeography] transition work our focus was really on developing children’s sense of identity, confidence in who they are and representing themselves in their new school, learning new ways to share their identity to build a sense of community from that.”
– Bec Britain, Wellbeing Programme Manager, Future Creators, Brighton & Hove
Creative Approaches to Transition | Exploring the Familiar
Our Creative Steps programmes provided schools with a supported opportunity to work peer to peer strategically to build an offer based on the needs and priorities of their schools. Each partnership worked on bespoke approaches and interventions. Steph O’Connor from Temple Ewell Church of England Primary school, worked closely with St Nicholas CE Primary Academy to create interventions for Year 3 and 4 using drama, including the work of a specialist drama practitioner and training for staff.
“On the whole we, as a team, feel that the experience greatly benefited our children and there was a noticeable difference in their outcomes but also their confidence to write. Choice of vocabulary used was so much better and, we are pleased to say, that this has continued into the start of this year. We have started to use these aspects of drama in other areas of our curriculum, and this is something we are going to do as a school moving forward.”
– Christopher Dale, Headteacher, St Nicholas CE Primary Academy, Kent
Read Our Other Reviews
Developing Representation through Arts and Creativity
SEND Settings Excelling in Creativity
Latest Training & Events
9th Jan 2024
Representation in the Primary Arts Curriculum