Barbican Guildhall Creative Learning has won the SEND Achievement (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) at the National Creative Learning Awards for its work with The Garden School in Hackney, a school for learners with autism aged 4–16.

Run by The Creative Learning Guild, the new Awards celebrate the inspirational innovators, educators and practitioners who live and breathe creative learning.

Pat Quigley MBE, Head of The Garden School said: “The Garden School is incredibly proud to have been part of the process that has led to the award which also recognises the creative work taking place every day with our children. We are a school firmly committed to ensuring all of our pupils have access to a rich arts curriculum which benefits every aspect of their development from communication to independence and from which they can derive so much fun.”

Jenny Mollica, Director of Creative Learning (Interim) at the Barbican and Guildhall School of Music & Drama said: “We’re absolutely delighted that our work with The Garden School has been recognised at a national level. Our Associate Schools model involves a school-wide approach that aims to inspire teachers to harness the power and value of creativity within educational settings and to widen access to the arts for all. Our work with The Garden School is a hugely successful example of the impact of this model and approach - one which we’re proud is being recognised through this award.”

The Garden School is one of three schools participating in Barbican Guildhall Creative Learning’s Associate Schools programme this year. Participating schools take part in a range of tailored arts and learning projects which respond to needs identified by the school. The aim is to embed an ethos of creative and cultural education within the school that continues beyond the life of the programme itself.

The Award was judged based on Barbican Guildhall Creative Learning’s work with The Garden School during the 2017/18 academic year in which 56 students and 48 members of staff participated in nine different projects with over 1,400 total contact hours. A particularly impactful element of the project has been sessions delivered by the Barbican’s Associate company Drum Works, with teachers noting high levels of engagement, musicality and increased confidence and self-esteem. Similarly, the drama workshops were so successful that the school is developing an after-school club as a direct result. Parental feedback reveals similar themes with 78 per cent feeling more confident taking their children to arts venues compared to a year ago, with the majority attributing this to Barbican Guildhall Creative Learning.

In choosing Barbican Guildhall as the recipient of this award, one of the judges, Canon Ruth Gould MBE, DL, FRSA, said: “Disabled young people and children are often only engaged in music for therapy and passive learning, but this programme to tailor-make learning to the individual's potential and learning style is much needed for future change and levelling equality of opportunity for all. I applaud the approaches and commitment shown by the Barbican and Guildhall School and look forward to seeing the results for years to come.”

The Associate Schools programme is unique in a number of ways:

A three-year commitment to Associate Schools enables the provision offered to be highly bespoke. This personalised approach to SEND provision is extremely valued by the school.

A whole school approach is central to the ethos of the project. Central to the approach of the Associate School’s model at The Garden School is the engagement of the school’s senior leadership team from the outset. This is integral to fulfilling the ambition for the ethos of creativity and cultural education to be embedded throughout the school.

Mutual learning and development: The Garden School have delivered training in several areas of SEND work to Barbican and Guildhall School staff, allowing them to develop programmes and respond to the school’s needs in the most appropriate way. The school has also supported the development of new models of SEND work which is going to be offered to other schools. Barbican Guildhall Creative Learning is now seeking opportunities to share and disseminate this learning in order to influence practice across the sector.

The City of London provides the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and is the founder and principal funder of the Barbican Centre.

 

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