Summer School 2013
“Razzmatazz and All that Jazz”
Berkeley Primary School Summer School Project “Razzmatazz and All that Jazz” began its journey from a discussion with Executive Head teacher, Kevin Prunty in May 2013. His vision was to provide an exciting and engaging summer programme to help children with the transition from one learning year to the next. There has been much discussion nationally about lost learning time during the summer holidays and how summer school programmes can help stimulate learning through “other” activities outside of the traditional classroom context. With this in mind, I was set the challenge to create an original programme to capture the imagination of pupils in year 4 and 5 and to help them regain potential lost learning time through the summer break.
A key focus of the Summer School, jointly funded by Berkeley Primary School and Cranford Community College, was literacy and numeracy. Mr Prunty saw this as a great opportunity to continue developing these fundamental skills but through a non-traditional format.
Working collaboratively with some amazing arts practitioners from the world of dance, theatre, music, visual arts and education, we devised a multi-arts programme to run for 4 weeks from the start of the summer holidays through to the middle of August. Working as 4 groups, fire, air, earth and water, each group spent one week learning various arts specific skills in each arts specialism, whilst improving literacy and numeracy. Every Friday, all the groups came together and performed/shared through a workshop forum, what they had learnt. Each new week, the children took their prior learning and applied these new skills into the next arts specialism.
By the end of the first week, there was a wealth of original material produced by the children which we could use to create a final performance piece. By the end of the third week we had so much amazing work from the children it was difficult to decide what to leave out and what should be drawn together into a complete storyline for a performance to parents and Berkeley staff on the final Friday.
The learning process was a real journey of discovery, not just for the children but for the staff as well. The storyline was organic, making the learning even more exciting. By the end of week one, the children had begun to drive a storyline with an Island theme as the main hook for all the creative work which followed stimulating song writing, storytelling, dance routines, props and scenery for the characters to tell their story. From this hook came more adventurous journeys involving ship wrecks, an aeroplane crash, fire and water tribes, islands made of sweets and food. A Baboon in the moon, who steals the stars until the warring tribes learn to live in harmony and a wishing tree that can grant one wish to a deserving person. The story had a moral, a purpose and a message.
At the start of week 4 they worked in their final arts specialism and then we gave the children a choice as to which arts specialism they wished to work in to create the performance. It didn’t take them long to have the plot sorted and for the final few days the whole group came together to form a Summer School Theatre Company.
The performance was amazing. You could feel the excitement and pride from the children and the arts practitioners performing together this original piece of musical theatre written, devised and performed by them; the culmination of four weeks work. You could feel this sense of pride from the staff and parents who attended the performance, amazed by the quality and talent before them.
There is no doubt this summer school project achieved what it set out to achieve and more. It not only helped to improve literacy and numeracy but it developed the children’s social and life skills too; self-confidence, creativity, imagination, self-discipline, spatial awareness , team work, communication and so much more. They learnt technical terms, history and facts about famous artists and performers, technical theatre terms, dance and music genres, how to make dance videos, (every group made a dance video), cultural influences in the arts and the language of the arts and they got to learn all this from arts experts very talented in their chosen field. Watching the children grow in confidence, individually and collectively was inspiring. The whole experience seemed to transform them. Many parents commented on the change they had seen in their child during the process and hoped the same opportunity would be available for their younger children in the future.
I am looking forward to Summer School 2014.
(Summer School organiser)