A collaboration between Venturers’ Academy (VA) and the University of Bristol has brought benefits for both the school and the higher education institution.
Artist-researcher Steve Pool visited VA with student Yun Sun and Professor Jennifer Rowsell, deputy head of the university’s School of Education, to work with primary and secondary pupils, all of whom have autism and other conditions.
Their project, entitled We Are Our Stories, used puppets and other prompts to encourage the children to express their own stories through creating a large-scale piece of art with their peers.
It was important for the children to work together again, after so much time spent away from the regular school environment during the various lockdowns of the past couple of years.
VA art teacher Maisie Draper said: “The aim was for the children to tell a story by working pictorially. We encouraged them to be more interactive and, after a little bit of hesitation at the start, it went so well.”
Mandy Field, assistant principal at VA, said the pupils had welcomed the opportunity provided by the University of Bristol, co-sponsor of Venturers Trust, through its Temple Quarter funding. “At Venturers’ Academy we welcome visitors who can provide our children with extra sensory and social experiences that they might not otherwise have access to,” she said.
Professor Rowsell from the University of Bristol said it was valuable for university students and staff to spend time on location in schools, something that had not been possible during the pandemic. “The advantages are reciprocal,” she said. “It has been so nice to come in to Venturers’ Academy to work with the staff and students.”