Glasgow City Council has Enhanced Nurture Bases in five of their primary schools. We partnered with two of these bases, at Sandaig and St Joseph’s Primary, to deliver the Transitions project. Enhanced Nurture Provision bases aim to ensure the social and emotional needs of children and young people are met.
Glasgow City Council explain that:
“Children who are finding it difficult to settle and learn with others benefit from extra support from an Enhanced Nurture environment. Children can need the support of Nurture Environments for many reasons. Sometimes they are withdrawn; sometimes they are angry and confused and find it hard to work well with other children or staff.”
The Transitions project gave us an opportunity to work with young people to gain their perspective of what it feels like to transition between a mainstream and ENP school environment.
We learnt that there are challenges, whether a young person is transitioning into an ENP to gain more support, or whether they are trying to transition into a mainstream environment. We created a project focused on the young people’s experience, capturing thoughts and ideas of how transitions between ENP and mainstream education could be more positive for young people in the future.
At Vox Liminis we care about creating safe spaces for people to share their lived experiences in a creative way. In this project we aimed to connect and work with these young people to create a teacher’s resource that can be used to explore transitions with future pupils coming to or from ENP units.
A guest blog by Jack Jully
Transitions began as a collaborative art project between Vox Liminis and Glasgow Education. The aim was to creatively explore the transition of young people moving from Greenview Primary to both Sandaig and St Joseph’s primary schools in Glasgow. By the time of delivery, the focus shifted slightly. Covid-disruption meant that Greenview’s closure happened earlier than planned. There was also a worry that if we looked backwards at the experiences of the young people when they were at Greenview, this might disrupt their transitional progress at their new schools. We decided instead to look forward and explore the transition of the young people from their Enhanced Nurture Provision bases at Sandaig and St Joseph’s to their mainstream schools.
I was keen in our initial conversations to try and understand how the pupils enjoyed learning and playing and how their ENP bases worked. The teachers at both Sandaig and St Joseph’s let me explore their classrooms and talked me through their different approaches to teaching and what was popular with the young people. We also discussed different resources they might find interesting and useful. This was a great starting point for beginning to plan the workshops and the project. I tried to be as responsive as possible when working with both the young people and the teachers – this allowed me to keep learning and adapting throughout the project.
This project came in two parts – first, the workshops, and then creating the resource. Following the initial conversations with the schools, I began to weave together ideas that explored character creation, space and place, role play and different drama games. When visiting both schools, I saw that board games and dice games were popular. This became a key feature of the warm-ups I would do with each group. I created 10 game cards and we used two dice to dictate which one we would play. During the first workshop, the young people pointed out the flaws in my game…Of course, using two dice meant we’d never see 1 come up, and what would we do if we landed on 11 or 12? This was picked up by pupils in both schools and I think it helped set the tone from the outset – the young people I worked with were not scared to let me know exactly what they thought about anything we were doing! Whether that was “this game is great” or “this game is soooooo boring”. Very helpful!
I was trying to find a balance between creative engagement and child consultation. The workshops were an opportunity to trial ideas for the final resource and talk through them with both the young people and the teachers. We also mapped and explored the journey from one school to another. I used several different games and exercises which enabled the participants to respond creatively in sharing their experiences, offering advice and suggestions in how others might also be supported during this transition. I wanted to offer a multitude of ways in which young people could be creative so they would all feel included and importantly, also have fun.
Angela Bryson, Sandaig Primary said: “the insightful answers were amazing, the staff really enjoyed taking part as well so we we sometimes had a group of sometimes up to 10 young people, four or five members of staff. And it was busy. It was noisy. It is fun and engaging and everybody took part in it and really really benefited from it.”
Play was crucial to the experience-sharing exercises; I wanted the young people to enjoy the activities and be creative. I also kept things open enough that each young person could share exactly what they wanted to about their experiences. I found the young people to be honest in sharing their stories and (crucially for me) what they thought of my ideas. They were brave in how they took part in everything I put forward and brilliantly creative with their ideas and suggestions.
Following on from the workshops I then had three days to evaluate, make sense of and create the resource. I firstly went through my numbered warm-up game cards, evaluating their popularity with the young people, their effectiveness in allowing for the exploration of the transition and how the games might work if I wasn’t there to deliver them. This was made all the easier due to the feedback I was consistently given throughout the workshops. Something that was both helpful and challenging, was that the workshops had different numbers of participants – the benefit was that the resource includes a combination of exercises that can be played with different group sizes.
Each activity is accompanied by the story of Daffodil. This character was a creation of both schools. Firstly, we decided on her name, where she was from and how old she was. I then posed the question of how she might be feeling before starting at her new mainstream school. This question was met with both positive and negative thoughts and feelings. The young people were articulating their own experiences through Daffodil. Their openness and honesty saw Daffodil’s character come to life.
“It was really really powerful… the student voice… throughout all of the whole process, even when they were designing Daffodil when they were talking about Daffodil and going through the emotions that Daffodil felt. These were really emotions that were coming from the children and their experience of being in the two places” (Maggie Cant)
I really want teachers and young people to feel confident to make the resource their own. It’s simple to use with lots of scope and freedom to apply it to specific area of focus.
“I think the biggest thing I’ve been able to take away from it is how transferable the game is off to other areas of the curriculum I’ve done a lot here… I also put that into practice when not long after Jack came, we had a new pupil come to our class and we and we were able to use the games for the focus of transition and how supportive it is for new young people in transitions” Johnny Murphy from Sandaig.
If you’re interested in learning more about the resource or getting a copy for your school, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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