Today our Learning Team has announced the artist and schools they’ve selected to participate in The Green Town Group, our pilot programme of artist-led activity designed to test new approaches to outdoor learning, supported by The Ernest Cook Trust.
Wiltshire-based visual artist James Aldridge will be heading up the project over the coming six months. His practice combines sensory interaction – such as walking, collecting and making – with research into ecology and history. Selected from an open call for artists, James has experience of heritage, arts and environmental organisations, and has worked with people ranging from pre-school children through to doctoral students.
James will be working with four MK primary schools: St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Primary School, Bletchley; Holne Chase Primary School, Bletchley; Brooklands Farm Primary School and Pepper Hill School in Bradville.
The project will involve around 130 Key Stage 1 pupils from across the four schools each taking part in three outdoor learning sessions in MK Parks Trust sites between January and July this year. Intended to enable schools to develop skills in outdoor learning in relation to contemporary arts practice, the sessions will also inspire and support teachers with cross-curricular links.
Each school’s participation in the project will culminate in a whole school celebration, involving hundreds more pupils. All children taking part in the programme will also have the chance to achieve their Arts Award Discover certificate, a scheme accredited by Trinity College London.
James says of his appointment: “I’m excited to be working with MK Gallery this year, using my practice to help bring the outdoors alive for local people. I’m looking forward to exploring the green spaces of Milton Keynes with school children and families, digging into its past together and examining its role as a home for wildlife as well as people.”
Ian Fraser, Assistant Head Teacher at Holne Chase Primary School said: “We are really looking forward to taking part in the project, especially for how it will help our children to appreciate seasonal changes in the natural environment around them, and for the skills that they will learn from an artist. This will be a springboard for more outdoor learning opportunities throughout Holne Chase, both this year and in the future.”
Bethany Mitchell, MK Gallery’s Childhood Learning Coordinator added: “We are delighted with our chosen artist and schools. As lead artist, James will devise creative activities that will touch on many areas of the national curriculum and allow resultant learning to be fed back into the classroom. And at the end of The Green Town Group project we’ll use what we’ve learnt with pupils and teachers to help shape MK Gallery’s future learning programme.”