Drumbeat School in Brockley and Little Heath in Essex have been taking part in unique Explore projects this month, and are excited to present their work to their families and schoolmates in performing arts showcases next week! Explore projects follow on from a TheatreJourneys theatre visit for Special Educational Needs (SEN) schools, and give students the chance to try making some theatre of their own.

Expert practitioners are delivering fantastic bespoke workshops at Drumbeat and Little Heath, using acting, movement, music and sensory activities to get every student expressing themselves, no matter their learning level. SEN schools are sometimes short of the facilities and specialist staff needed for regular drama provision, so for a lot of students this is their first taste of drama activities. Some have told us in feedback that is the best thing they’ve ever done at school!

This year, we’ve increased our investment in Explore to bring more schools classroom-based projects of five weekly sessions. We’re responding directly to the wisdom SEN school teachers have shared with us in their project evaluations- that regular, structured creative workshops lead to stronger and longer-term outcomes for students than one-off trips and sessions. We’ll be equipping teachers for life with the learning resources and games used in these projects and more material besides, so opportunities for dance and drama don’t have to end when the Mousetrap practitioner leaves the building.

In south London, our Youth Engagement Manager, Jenny, has been at Limes College in Sutton organising a Powerplay project to run during the summer. Powerplay is an intensive five-day course for pupils attending a PRU- a Pupil Referral Unit.

Students attend a PRU when they are unable to attend a mainstream or special needs school, and are often among our most vulnerable and at-risk service users. Powerplay projects are all about confidence-boosting, teamwork and respect, and will give students the chance to tackle the Bronze Arts Award, a qualification that counts towards their UCAS points.

We’ve been looking at ways to expand our Arts Award provision, and are excited to be offering Silver as well as Bronze Award opportunities as part of our Summerstage performing arts summer school later this month. Watch this space for news of how our Powerplay and Summerstage students achieve their Awards!