At the core of the Pushkin Trust’s work is the Schools’ Programme which is a cross-curricular, cross-community and cross-border project involving primary, secondary, Irish medium and special needs schools.
The initiative retains creative writing as the central core of activity and is supplemented by other creative art forms , using the environment as an important source of inspiration.
The programme is usually launched in October with a residential weekend for participating teachers. Artists lead practical workshops based on the annual theme which is then adopted into the programme and integrated into teaching. Previous annual themes include ‘Roots’, ‘The Fire Within’, ‘The Tree of Life’ and ‘Go with the Flow’. The theme for 2013-2014 is ‘Landscape’.
‘Pushkin Days’ are held in the spring term at Baronscourt Estate. These involve classes from two or more schools coming together for a day of discovering environmental and creative expression through workshops with professional facilitators. Pupils work in mixed groups alongside teachers, taking part in activities facilitated by artists, dancers, writers, actors, musicians and environmentalists. Two of these facilitators will also visit the participating schools to work on-site with the children to develop the annual theme further.
All Pushkin schools hold their own Celebration Day in May/June with an exhibition of the project work created by pupils and teachers during the six-month programme. Participating schools receive Pushkin plaques and award certificates.
How your school can get involved: schools normally phone the Pushkin Trust office directly, they can be recommended by the Trust’s Regional Leaders, or more often they hear about Pushkin by word of mouth.
The Pushkin Trust’s annual ‘Summer Camp of the Imagination’ is held at Baronscourt Estate in early August each year. Approximately 35 children from a number of schools, along with their teachers and parents, attend this five day residential. The group stays at the Ulster American Folk Park near Omagh.
Children and adults draw inspiration from the natural world, using their five senses to craft their own poems, stories and works of art during creative and environmental workshops. In addition to this, there are a number of social activities and a short celebration of the children’s creativity on the final day of the Summer Camp.
The Pushkin Trust runs a tertiary level programme, ‘Partners in Education’, for student teachers and lecturers from Colleges of Education throughout Ireland.
This programme, usually taking place in November, involves a short weekend residential conference at Baronscourt Estate with on-campus arts and environmental facilitation. Facilitators skilled in various art forms lead workshops based on the annual inspirational theme.
We recently introduced the first ever ‘Rewarding Creativity Mark’, an award that recognises how teachers and school staff have embraced the concept of creativity in the classroom, planning and delivery of their creative curriculum and staff development.
To date over 50,000 pupils, teachers and student teachers have participated in Pushkin’s Schools’ Programme, Summer Camp of the Imagination and Partners in Education.