Our programmes have been developed over a number of years & are based on decades of experience as teachers & headteachers. The experiences we’ve had have proved the pivotal role the arts can play in transforming schools & children’s lives. Challenging schools in the heart of Peckham estates were being transformed into oasis of calm and mutual respect.
Children were given the opportunity to aspire, achieve & excel and they did! Steel bands, wind bands, choirs & school shows all gave children the opportunity to perform and be recognised not only by their peers & teachers, but their parents & the wider community too. The effect this had on children’s self esteem and the ethos of the schools was immeasurable, but very clear to see by those who witnessed it over a period of time. A positive ‘gang’ to be part and proud of!
In 2001 Education Action Zone funding with an agenda to raise standards particularly in literacy, was made available to a group of schools in Peckham who met particular government criteria relating to indicators of social deprivation. What better way to raise standards in literacy & oracy than through the performing arts? An initial team was formed to oversee production and creative direction, and our first performances were a large scale gospel project for over 200 children and a performance called ‘The Underwater Circus’ that engaged artists to work on themed elements in the 10 schools taking part.
In 2005 we changed the way we produced the shows to make them even more integrated, with children working more collaboratively across schools. 2007 saw our first large scale work, ‘The Word Garden’. Inspired purely by the use of language, this was a collaboration between an author/poet and musicians who guided the children through the process of devising songs for performance by the massed group, not just their own class. This in turn brought the need for a musical director to oversee arranging & direct performances.
In 2010 the Southbank Education asked that we collaborate with the Royal Society to celebrate their 350th anniversary. This further deepened our relationship with them. ‘Through the Stars & Beyond’, was an amazing collaboration between scientists and over 600 Southwark pupils, the most amazing example of cross-curricular work that you could wish to see.
From here on the EiS has collaborated with SBC on themes and links into their artistic programmes. The 'Festival of Britain' celebrations in 2011 led to ‘All About the Music’ - a Festival of Southwark. The 'Festival of the world' welcoming the 2012 Olympics to ‘A bird’s Eye View’, and the 2013 theme of ‘Neighbourhoods’ has inspired “Out Foxed’.
Our vocal work has been further supported with performance opportunities for a further 300 children during the spring term, ‘Spring into Voice’ 2011, two collaborations with the Philharmonia Orchestra in 2012, and in 2013 a piece devised for choir, beatboxers & street dancers.
It has not only been the children who have had the opportunity to develop. Our own tutors, some with us from the very start, have had the opportunity to develop skills and lead projects in world-class venues. A big emphasis is placed on CPD and teachers and classroom assistants are expected to fully participate in all sessions in order to gain skills that they can transfer to other aspects of their teaching.