We Work with Schools
Schools are at the heart of our community and at the heart of the Carnival procession. Every year we work with schools in projects which support the curriculum and engage the creativity and inspire all pupils including the less motivated and those with special needs.
To help schools make the most of their involvement, we run a series of workshops to help plan, create and participate in the procession. Pupils create costumes and structures, learn music and dance and then experience the unique joy of taking part in the parade which is the focal point of Carnival Day and watched by tens of thousands of people.
In 2020 we had just started our schools projects when Coronavirus changed the focus our activities to online projects. The pupils of Oxford Spires Academy had already completed their amazing octopus in preparation for Carnival Day, in a project supported by the Oxford Business Park, The structure has already been exhibited at an event held at the Oxford Business Park in March 2020 and we can’t wait to see it in the procession in 2021.
For the rest of 2020, we continued with learning projects for school children, supported by the University of Oxford and the Oxford Business Park, with online resources.
In 2018 we began to seriously address inclusivity in Oxfordshire arts and the Carnival. We delivered an extensive programme of opportunities in arts training, participation and performance for disabled young people in Oxford using the Cowley Road Carnival as the key catalyst and platform.This work began our partnership with the ROARsomes at ARK-T which has gone from strength to strength.During the year, we collaborated with an impressive group of local, national and international arts partners including: New Carnival Company (supported by Unlimited), Embaixadores de Alegria (the world’s biggest carnival project with disabled people), mental health charity MIND, the University of Oxford’s Pembroke College, Cyc Du Soleil (Steve Larkin), Sol Samba, Pegasus Theatre, Mizeke Afropean Singers, DADAfest, Gloucester Carnival.We also partnered with MIND to work with a group of people living with mental health disorders – often labelled invisible disabilities – and Pembroke College Gallery (University of Oxford) to deliver a series of interactive workshops and an exhibition of work There were additional performances and displays of work at Common People festival, Carnival Day and the ROAR Festival.
In 2017 we teamed up with the Harwell Campus as part of our Arts Council funded work to offer 59 school children plus staff from three local primary schools an exciting peek inside the world leading science and technology campus located at Chilton, south of Oxford.
Years 4-6 pupils from Church Cowley St James, Marsh Baldon C of E and St Francis Schools were invited to Harwell Campus, a site which houses the UK’s leading national science facilities, including 200 organisations engaged in science and technology and 75 that work in the space sector. The visit was an extension of the Cowley Road Carnival which takes place on 3rd July this year, with a STEAM (Science Technology Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) theme running through it. Organisers were keen to provide an opportunity for the children to see first-hand how research and discovery is helping to find innovative solutions across the sectors of space, medicine, healthcare, advanced materials and data.
Visitors and teaching staff were treated to a viewing of the ‘We are Aliens’ planetarium show which has a voiceover by actor Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley from Harry Potter); hosted by Sophy Palmer from the Science and Technology Facilities Council. Students then listened to a talk about space exploration, astronauts and the planets, including how space is used every day on earth, by Alan Brunstrom, Liaison Officer, the European Space Agency at the European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications (ECSAT). Afterwards, local artists worked with the children to help generate creative ideas for their procession groups in the carnival procession.
Natalie Rushton, teacher at Marsh Baldon Primary School said: “The children said it was really fun and they loved finding out more about space – they were particularly enthusiastic about discussing ‘The Black Hole’. The staff have told me it was a great opportunity to see ‘Science in action’ and lots of our budding scientists are now feeling even more inspired. I think the discussions were valuable and have certainly influenced our artwork and structures, as the children have been busy making beautiful shooting stars and even a black hole of their own! I can’t wait to see what the other schools have created.”
Alan Brunstrom said ‘We hope that by giving these students a small taste of what’s at Harwell they may consider taking up subjects that could lead them into a career in the spheres of science, technology and space. Sometimes it only takes a small spark to ignite a passion for these subjects.’