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‘Choreographers of learning’ put their best foot forward

Two Ebor schools chosen to pilot an innovative way of boosting literacy outcomes through dance have completed their projects in style.

Year 4 children, at Alderman Cogan’s Church of England Primary Academy and at Tadcaster Primary Academy, worked alongside their class teacher, PE specialist and dance professionals to express ideas through movement and then use the experience in their descriptive writing.

In Hull, the project was spread over five weeks. In Tadcaster, it was covered intensively over five afternoon sessions. Both schools finished their programmes this week.

Called Developing Choreographers of Learning: Improving Literacy Through Dance, the project was funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation as part of their Teacher Development Programme. The foundation encourages closer working between education and the arts.

Last year Ebor bid for full funding but we were not successful because our links with dance organisations had not been tested – but they liked the idea. The foundation gave us a small discretionary grant to pilot the scheme, which will put us in a better position when we apply next time.

Dance is an art form relegated to two sentences in the Primary National Curriculum but we sought to use dance to explode stereotypes and engage pupil and teacher in a co-learning adventure.

Our project supported teachers to find approaches to learning using kinetic and corporeal cognition – body and mind together – so more senses were at work. Non-separation of thinking and doing to channel literacy provided stimulus to tackle problem-solving, recall, analysis, interpretation and creativity.

A thorough evaluation is now taking place so we can feed back to the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

Thanks to Jane Hesp and Deborah Wilson at Alderman Cogan’s, Warren Parkinson at Tadcaster, dance specialists Flex Dance and York Dance Space and Ebor’s PE specialist Gareth Jones for making the magic happen. Special thanks to the children for taking so enthusiastically to new ways of tackling SPAG!