Schools Programme

We worked with three schools as part of the Corner Shop Project.
Pupils (key stage 2) researched and discovered more about their shops and local area and worked with Foursight Theatre to create their own productions.

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The participating schools

Devonshire Junior School,
Sandwell - 2008

St Phillips RC Primary School,
Sandwell - 2008

West Park Primary School,
Wolverhampton - 2009

Shadow Puppet Video (3mins)

  • YouTube
  • St Phillips RC Primary School

Devonshire Primary School

West Park Primary School

St Phillips RC Primary School

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Children's Comments & Quotes

"I've learnt that you should always think about what you do, and put 100% into it and be confident in what you do."

"I don't normally work with anybody that much, but now I can work with anybody. And I find it interesting."

"Before I thought the whole class couldn't like succeed in anything, because we didn't work together, but now, because we're working together, we can do something."

"The project was a goldmine for ways of linking it in with the curriculum."
Drama Facilitator

"What I saw in the children was remarkable. The ones that are normally disruptive or shy were all working together. They developed a trust that didn't exist previously."

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Shadow Puppet Theatre Video
by Foursight Theatre © 2010

Devonshire Primary School Photography
2-8 of 47 by Anand Chhabra © 2008

9-10 of 47 by Black Country Touring © © 2008

West Park Primary School
11-25 of 47 by Foursight Theatre © 2010

St Phillips RC Primary School
26-39 of 47 - by Black Country Touring and Foursight Theatre © 2008

Main Body
40-41 and 45-47 of 47 by Anand Chhabra © 2008

42-44 of 47 by Black Country Touring and Foursight Theatre © 2008

Schools Programme

This project's aim was to enable pupils (at Key Stage 2) to learn about their local shops and discover more about the area through creativity and teamwork. Using their research they were facilitated to create their own theatre performance to tell the story of their local community.

Introducing the children to oral history was one of the starting points for the project. It gave the pupils an opportunity to learn new skills in interview techniques and learn how to use audio recording equipment. This allowed for an emphasis on speaking and more specifically listening.

The children:

  • Conducted their own research into their local shops and community
  • Discovered new things about their local area
  • Used the material as stimuli for their own creative response
  • Worked as a team in sharing ideas and developing the work together with support from the artist facilitators
  • Created a site-specific promenade theatre performance, taking their audience on a journey through the school

The project was led by Lisa Harrison, Foursight Theatre's Learning and Participation Co-ordinator; working with Set Designer, Andrew Purvin and Sound Artist, Heather Wastie. The project was supported by professionals working in heritage: Cheryl Williams from English Heritage and Sarah Chubb from the borough archives.

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Stage by Stage

(The project ran for 7-days over a month in June).

The project started with a letter from Lisa to the class. The class replied. And then Lisa went for her first visit.

The beginning: Lisa introduced the children to the project. This was followed by a visit from English Heritage to introduce them to oral history. They learnt how to find out about the past.

Finding out about the local area

The children visited their local archives and interviewed the borough archivist. They looked at photos of old shops in the area. This was followed by a trip to their local shops, which were already prepared for the visit. They asked questions, took photographs and bought and received items from the shopkeepers. Once back at school the children shared their experience with each other.

A Tea Party

The children invited local residents into the school and conducted interviews finding out more about how the area had changed and developed. They unearthed interesting stories from members of the community. The event culminated in a tea party organised and hosted by the class, with refreshments provided by their parents.

Creating the theatre performance

The children worked with the drama facilitator, set designer and sound artist to create a performance based on their recorded interviews and the additional research material they had collected. This included making shadow puppets and recording their own sounds to develop a soundtrack.

The performance

The parents and members of the local community including the shopkeepers and residents, who had been involved in the project, were invited to see the performance.

New archive material

The children took a second trip to the archives with the new oral history recordings of their interviews and other information about the local area to add to the existing archive collection.

All the activities gave children opportunities to develop both individually and as a class.

The key areas of development were:

  • Confidence building: both self confidence, and group confidence - trust and sensitivity to others
  • Co-operative skills and team work - and satisfaction from this
  • Thinking creatively - not searching for teachers' answer
  • Self worth - all contributions were valued, no wrong answers
  • Self expression - activities allowed children to breathe and be themselves (this leads to self confidence)
  • Awareness of community - valuing their local community and the diversity therein - raising self-esteem
  • Speaking and listening skills - fundamental to child's development of self and thoughts

These key areas all develop self esteem, self awareness and self confidence within individuals and groups, and these in turn form the foundation for the building of positive behaviour and therefore of learning and achievement. The keystone was self-esteem.

Considerations in setting up this type of project

  • Commitment from head-teacher
  • Commitment from key staff
  • Ideally work with one school
  • Pre-planning with relevant school staff in advance of project start
  • Suggested project start: after autumn (October) or spring (February) half term
  • Level of organisation involved in out-of-school trips even when local and on foot
  • Longer project timeframe
  • More than one performance for wider-school dissemination

The pilot project ran with two schools in Smethwick in June 2008 culminating in a single performance in each school. Informed by the learning from the pilot, the project was repeated in 2009 focusing on one school in Wolverhampton. This time the project started in October and ran over 5-months leading to two performances.

The 2009 school had an opportunity to see a live performance of The Corner Shop theatre production before doing anything else. This opened their eyes to different ways of creating a piece of theatre and further inspired them to develop a piece of their own.

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The Corner Shop schools programme has been highly successful in engaging with pupils at Key Stage 2 through creative learning leading to high quality experiences. It gave the pupils an opportunity to discover their local area, to see it with new eyes and develop a sense of pride in their community. It developed their confidence, sense of team and empowerment. The children learnt new skills and made decisions on how to develop the project.

The project provided an opportunity for the local community to engage with their local school. The school made contact with residents and shopkeepers: providing the wider community an opportunity to interact with and be of use to local young people. This led to both the children and the local community to feel proud of who they are and where they live.

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Gazebo Theatre's Corner Shop Case Study

As part of the continuing outreach and education work to accompany The Corner Shop Project touring exhibition, Gazebo Theatre in Education Company, supported by English Heritage, worked for a week with a group of pupils from Stowlawn Primary School to create a dramatic response to the exhibition. Their performance was then shown for Heritage Open Days at Bilston Town Hall. Alongside this an additional group spent three days working with a visual artist to produce Corner Shop art pieces to be displayed within the exhibition.

Click here to read more about this theatre and art project.

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