Our project in 2019 with Stony Dean School was our first ever with a specialist school for students with interaction and communication difficulties such as autism and ADHD. We had no idea how it would turn out - although we've worked students with autism and ADHD before, this was previously only in a mainstream education setting. Working with a mix of students across classes and year groups, however, we were absolutely astounded at how they came together to produce two spectacular performances of which they - and we - are very proud indeed. In the video below, a few of the students and their teachers tell us more about the project and the difference it made.
Looking back to last month, here are the highlights of the spectacular performances of A Midsummer Night's Dream by students from Stony Dean School, a specialist secondary school for young people with communication and interaction difficulties such as autism. Somewhat unseasonal to perform this play in mid-December, but our hearts were warmed by the boys' enthusiasm and the stunning audience reactions - watch this space for more on that soon!
This week on our Year Six projects, the children have been learning how to scale up a small design onto a large canvas. They've learned teamwork, how to use tape measures, and lots of mental maths!
We were delighted to welcome Heart of Bucks to a performance at Stony Dean School last month - it was great to be able to show them how much of a difference their support made to the students involved! They've written a lovely impact report on their website, which you can find here.
We spent just under two weeks at Stony Dean rehearsing Rebekah King's adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream, culminating in two performances for pupils and parents on Wednesday 18th December. Stony Dean is a specialist communication and interaction secondary school for pupils with learning difficulties. This was the YPPT's first project at a specialist school of any sort, so it was hard to know what to expect. However, the performances ended up being wonderful!
Headteacher Neil Strain summed it up for us:
"The pride I had when the pupils were delivering the language of Shakespeare, the engagement from the audience, many of which have attention deficit and short term memory issues, all of whom listened politely and enjoyed the performance. The professionalism and the professional feel the production had, made me feel like I was sat in the theatre. It blew me away!
I was bowled over with the professionalism and pride in the pupils in their jobs. Each child had a role they carried them out and the performance went without an obvious hitch. The pride in themselves in overcoming their own personal barriers were evident. Seeing pupils and knowing the pupils' journeys and seeing them succeed was also incredible. It’s hard to put a numerical value on the kind of progress that I observed. Schools love a % increase, but actually the pupils gained skills and confidence that a score or grade does not and could not count. For that I am and will be eternally thankful.
We are very grateful to Didymus, The Hedley Foundation and Heart of Bucks for their support of this project - the pupils could not have done this without you!
It's Creative Careers Week this week! We aim to inspire every child we work with to investigate the creative industries (including backstage and behind the scenes) thanks to our partnership with the wonderful Brilliant Stages at Production Park. For them, it was a chance to upskill apprentices, and for the children, it gave them world-class stages that open their eyes to creative careers.
Over the past few weeks, our Year Six classes have been putting together their puppet bodies. They've worked with screw eyes, pins, tape and string and learned all sorts of new skills including reef knots just so that their puppets can move! We'll be moving on to costumes soon - watch this space for more photos!
We're delighted to be starting projects at four primary schools this month - Wolvercote Primary in Oxford, Central Primary and Highwood Primary in Watford, and Bewick Bridge Primary in Cambridge! First off - time to read the scripts and work out which character each child will make.
(Pictured - one of last year's scripts from the production of Macbeth at Bewick Bridge, with excellent annotations!)
Last week we ran this year's training camp for new project leaders. Lovely to have such enthusiastic recruits on board, and to welcome back Ronnie Le Drew for his masterclass. We were also joined by some of the volunteers from last year's intergenerational project based at St Albans Abbey.