Five schools in Doncaster and darts are working together to improve children’s emotional literacy

In a time of significant difficulties for schools across the country, and particularly those in areas of social deprivation, five schools in Doncaster and darts are working together to improve children’s emotional literacy, through play, storytelling and using your imagination.
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Teachers in Doncaster primary schools have shared that their students are struggling to communicate effectively, build confidence in the classroom, and listen and retain information - all key skills which are necessary for effective learning.

This anecdotal evidence is supported by significant evidence of a national crisis in children’s mental health, (ADCS Report on Children’s Mental Health, Nov 2022, CYP Mental Health by Health and Social Care Committee, Dec 2021.)

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darts’ Creative Classrooms has proven to be a successful intervention in supporting children in developing these skills; 100 per cent of teachers engaged over three years of delivery have seen improved confidence and engagement in their students both during Creative Classrooms and in lessons, while 92 per cent agree that their students are better able to communicate their thoughts and feelings effectively.

A darts Creative Classrooms. PIcture by James MulkeenA darts Creative Classrooms. PIcture by James Mulkeen
A darts Creative Classrooms. PIcture by James Mulkeen

Year 4 Teacher Jane said: “I couldn't find a single fault with the project. Students are more confident across year groups, and teachers are using the skills they've learnt in their own lessons.”

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If you joined a Creative Classroom, you would see an experienced drama facilitator leading six sessions with a whole class of students, from Year 1 to Year 4, slowly and surely. Exploring one story for six weeks allows a class to immerse themselves in a new world where they can make mistakes, discover characters’ differing emotions, and imagine alternative endings.

Creative Classrooms was developed with four primary schools across Doncaster over three years and built in partnership with Elaine Burke, Art Therapist and Consultant.

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The pedagogy is rooted in darts’ 30+ years of experience working with children, in substantiated theories of child development and the importance of play; while being informed by the knowledge and expertise of the teachers, senior leaders, and teaching assistants darts has worked with all across the Doncaster borough.

darts supports schools in developing a whole-school approach to creativity, wellbeing and understanding ourselves. Artists share key techniques with teaching staff through CPD sessions so staff can continue to build a creative classroom in their own practice.

Deputy Head Katie shared that: “Creative Classrooms is the best CPD you could ask for. In Creative Classrooms the children are collaborative, cooperative, accepting of each other and creative.”

Students have told darts artists: “I love Creative Classrooms; we always go on really big adventures!”; “The best thing about Creative Classrooms is I get to show what I'm good at.”

“We try really hard and show all our feelings”. 

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For those interested in exploring this topic further, or who would like to discuss the project with a teacher who is working on Creative Classrooms, please contact Sarah Eastaff – Director (Arts & Education). [email protected] or 01302 493844.

*darts is Doncaster’s award-winning participatory arts charity. It creates art with people in Doncaster to improve life, learning and health.

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