November 12, 2021

Reaching out for Climate Change

Embracing one of our core Quaker values, sustainability, the Drama and Art Departments have reached out to five local schools during the second week of the UN climate change conference, COP26, to help raise awareness of the climate emergency. Visiting schools in Henley, Caversham, Arborfield and Twyford the groups delivered interactive workshops to engage Year 5 pupils through creative activity.

The Drama workshops at St Mary’s Henley, Farley Hill Primary and The Hill Primary were concentrated into a single day with our Drama team of Sixth Formers, Tilly and Eddie, accompanied by our Resident Theatre Graduate, Jack Robinson, and Drama teacher, Natasha Coccia, who is also Assistant Head: Partnerships and Outreach. Dashing from one school to the next on Wednesday 10th November the group delivered a series of fun challenges including splat, the name game and the alphabet game before moving on to teach the COP26 dance as a warm-up. With role plays involving discussion about the impact of flying on the environment and the topics of littering, recycling, food waste and using resources sparingly, the classes moved from watching a dramatic scene through to developing their own forum drama.

“The children really enjoyed the Drama workshop. Thank you so much for coming we really appreciate it.” commented Emma Clarke, Head of Farley Hill Primary. “The children came away from the session very enthusiastic about making a change.” added Farley Hill’s Year 5 teacher, Ms Squire.  Katie Gumbrell, Year 5 teacher at The Hill Primary, enthused “It’s a great opportunity for the children to be taught by a specialist. The drama allowed them to explore some of the issues without feeling so anxious about them. Thank you – it was really excellent!” Katie’s students agreed: “It was the best it could be.” Said Ralph, “I wished it would go on longer.” ‘It was just perfect.” echoed classmate, Ed.

The Art outreach team shared their first workshop with The Hill Primary, travelling with the LP Drama group so that each member of Year 5 experienced a creative take on COP26 through either Art or Drama. “I think it was a real success! Hopefully the next two will prove to be as fruitful!” enthused Tom Scotcher, Resident Artist and Art Technician, on his return. Thursday saw a visit to Dolphin School in Twyford and Friday was a trip to Hemdean House in Caversham where more Year 5s enjoyed the opportunity to ‘Imagine a World Without’.

The theme adopted by the art group, which included Head of Art, Mark Wood and Sixth Form Art students, Rosie, Alice, Kabir, Alba and Han, was intended to remind KS2 pupils how much of the planet’s natural beauty we take for granted. The sessions focussed on imagining a world without flora and fauna, without trees, and without plastic waste as well as covering the concept of tectonic plates. Between them the three schools contributed designs which will form the pieces of a collaborative 3D sculpture which combined with some artwork from Leighton Park students will emphasise the importance of working together to fight climate change.

Miss Wright, Year 5 teacher at The Hill, noted, “As an eco-school this workshop worked well for our pupils. The children had a chance to be creative whilst learning about the importance of climate change. All the children now have a better understanding of COP26 and they also learnt about different artists who were creative with plastic.” Alice Baker, Year 5 teacher at Dolphin School, was attracted to the workshop because it linked Art with the real world around her pupils in a creative way and felt they benefitted by “learning new artistic techniques and an introduction to sculpture work.” Alice’s pupil Isham commented, “It was very good and we did sophisticated drawings.” For classmate, Eloise, the best part of the workshop was “showing my creative passion and meeting the teachers.” “I loved it so much!” concluded Darcy. Emma Roberts, Year 5 teacher at Hemdean House did too reflecting “Thank you – Brilliant! 10/10”

Alice and Kabir, who supported one of the workshops shared their thoughts on the experience: “The children responded with great enthusiasm which was really refreshing and inspiring to see. When we grouped all the drawings together, we were amazed that they were all so different. It was fun looking around and recognising each individual’s drawings because they were so good at integrating their own personalities into their art, which you get to know through having conversations with them. I think they really embraced the theme of Cop 26. Branching out and sharing our experience, creativity, and time with the other schools in the Reading community really embodies Leighton Park’s ethos as well as helping spread the message of sustainability, stewardship and peace, which are all core values of Leighton Park.”

Check out more photos from our COP26 activities!

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