About the project
One of our key student-led projects this year has been the after school arts and crafts group. They have been volunteering with Allesley Primary school throughout term 2. The group holds their sessions on Monday afternoons from 3.30-4.30pm
The group is led by four student volunteers, Nuala Mckillop, Chantel Milford, Jade Savill and Zoe Button. Nuala originally had the idea to start the project, and managed to recruit three students who, like her, were thinking of a future career working with children. This project was ideal for giving them an insight into what teaching is really like.
The numbers of children the girls have worked with has grown since the project’s first session. They are now supporting over 30 children after taking the decision to cap the numbers. Needless to say this has been a very popular few weeks for all involved.
What have students gained from the project?
‘’We have worked on a number of key skills such as team work, communication, lesson planning and managing the children’s behaviour. We all feel more comfortable leading large groups as a result of these sessions’’.
‘’It may have been luck on our part to have received such a well-behaved and enthusiastic group of children. Their interest in the sessions has quite clearly grown.’’
‘’We all wanted to lead on a session encompassing what we are particularly interested in, which included a variety of activities like collage, painting, sculpture and pop art’’.
‘’We all want to go into teaching, so this has been a brilliant way to experience what it’s like dealing with a class of 30 children. Some of us are also volunteering in other schools as part of our add+vantage modules and there has been no problems fitting it all in’’.
What impact has the project had on the children?
‘’We wanted to give the children a chance to experience different kinds of art that they wouldn’t normally get during lesson time. It has allowed them to be creative and experimental’’.
‘’In our first session there were quite a few students who were very shy and quiet. Everyone has grown in confidence as the weeks have gone on, and they are getting louder every week!’’.
Any piece of advice for those looking to start a student-led project in schools?
‘’It can be difficult to keep 30 children interested throughout the session, so it has been important for us to think of back up plans in case they are not engaging with the work. This would be an important piece of advice for anyone thinking of doing a similar activity in schools as part of their volunteering’’.
‘’We’d also advise them to think about timing. Make sure you have an activity that’s going to last for the full hour as children can get quite restless if they finish their work early’’.
‘’The support from the school has been great. We work with the school’s arts coordinator who is happy to let us lead on the sessions, but also offers to chip in where needed’’.
From the school…
‘’With arts being squeezed out of the curriculum, this project has given the children a chance to experience different aspects of art that are not included in lessons. A lot of this is completely new for the children, and they have been able to transfer what they have learnt to other parts of their study’’. – Sophie Bench, Arts Coordinator at Allesley Primary