On Monday 8th June 2020, to coincide with year 6 children being allowed to return to school, we started delivering ‘A Sense of Lockdown’ with six REAch2 Primary Academy Schools in Wolverhampton, Cannock, Telford and Staffordshire.
Arts Insight and REAc2 had big plans for 2020, thanks to a generous donation from the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, which would enable us to deliver a series of week-long musical workshops across the UK, all the participating schools provided by the Academy Trust. The workshops would mean all lessons cancelled and instead the children and teachers becoming the performers and backstage crew, to include the set and props department, costume designers, marketing team, photographers, reporters/ bloggers, technical crew and front-of-house staff. With everyone playing a vitally important role over the course of the workshop the school is transformed into a professional working theatre.
Then COVID-19 happened and although we can’t control how long the virus will effect our ability to deliver our old projects. Nothing was stopping us from creating a brand new project that utilises the skills gained over the 12 weeks of lockdown, to include remote teaching and learning practices. As we embark on this new chapter of the charities existence, we are thrilled to have the support and backing from the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, who appreciate that we all must learn to adapt and succeed in the new normal.
On the 3rd June 2020, the Deputy Director of Cluster 1 of REAch2; Gerry Crofts and myself started brainstorming, we asked ourselves; could my child self, have coped with lockdown as well as my adult self has? Could I have rationalised my fears and answered my many questions: Why I do not go to school anymore. Why is my mum my teacher now? Why can’t we visit Grandad? Why can’t I see my friends? Why are so many people dying? I have a cough, is it the killer virus? Am I going to die? Are you going to die?
‘A Sense of Lockdown’ highlights the synergy between the recovery curriculum and the creative curriculum, celebrating the power of the arts and the positive outcomes for the children, which are multifaceted in their therapeutic and artistic benefits. It will act as a positive and consuming creative distraction, reassuring all involved that whatever changes over the coming weeks, this project will remain a constant in their lives, based on the fact that it has been designed to work in school and remotely.
Gerry remarked: “Of all the children effected by the pandemic, year 6’s are definitely one of the groups most significantly impacted. The final year of primary school is spent preparing children for the next stage of their educational journey. These children have missed out on vital life lessons to prepare them for such a transition and so much more due to the closures of our schools. This project gives the children a meaningful and purposeful way of recovering, whilst giving them a platform to talk so adults can listen and act if needed.”
On Friday 5th June 2020, all the heads and year 6 teachers from the participating schools and Laura met and made plans, albeit via zoom and the project started two days later. The sum of all the children’s work being a short film, which will replace all the ‘Leavers Productions’ that have been forced to cancel due to COVID-19 and leave the children with a positive memento to mark the end of their primary education, which will be shown on multiple media platforms throughout the day of the 16th July 2020.
Since we started we have already witnessed some incredibly powerful outcomes, which justifies how important it is to offer children maximum opportunities to talk, engage and share their stories, after all, mental health and support services were already over stretched even before the pandemic. If you read the latest research by Mind it states in three separate pieces of research that care services are unable to support thousands of people every year, at a time when they need help the most.
A Sense of Lockdown Trailer: