what has Nest meant to us?arrow

I'd been at Briscoe a matter of days when Creative Partnerships contacted me about placing a bid for a school project. At that time the pupils and staff were very vulnerable, behaviour was a huge issue and my days were spent 'fire fighting'. I didn't have the time to place a bid but was interested so I agreed to meet with Serena Abbott the Creative Programmer and she accepted my bid on a post-it note! It read something along the lines of 'I want the children at Briscoe to be motivated to learn'- that basic! Three years on, our work with Creative Partnerships has achieved this and so much more.

Giant NestWithin a fortnight of being involved with CP we had all the children standing in the Hall, singing a new school song, surrounding David who accompanied them on his guitar. I remember the worried look on the faces of the staff sat around the edge (and the uneasy feeling inside me - would a fight break out?) when David suggested they all stand up. At the time that was a risk that we wouldn't have taken, but David went for it! A magic moment; the first time I'd seen happy, smiling faces cooperating and working together.

Our 'Lie of the Land' Project evolved from many conversations with myself, teachers, support staff, pupils and parents with Sarah Cole our Project Manager and Lead Artist. We refer to it as an 'organic' process as it's grown and taken shape, changed direction and evolved as we learnt from our experiences and reflected upon our expectations. The journey has been risky (building an enormous nest in our New Hall; exploring emotional 'bombshells' with Year 6; writing on the corridor and classroom walls in a staff meeting; Jules wheeling the piano out into the playground at lunchtime and playing for the children...), inspirational and hysterical (staff training and two staff residentials that have resulted in a much closer team and the emergence of hidden talents), full of awe and wonder (digging on the school field and discovering 'treasure' with metal detectors, cataloguing finds and setting up our own Museum; using clay dug from the field to make pots and masks; designing and building our own 'Bunny Park'; leading and being led around a farm blindfolded...) and motivational for children, staff and parents.

Feather dustersThis bespoke project has left us with many happy memories and the opportunity to take part and experience a whole range of creative activities - Nest being the most amazing of these! It has also had an impact long term. We now have a team of confident and talented support staff capable of delivering creative and enjoyable PPA time projects. These are appreciated by the children and teachers and are no longer the stressful hours of the week where senior staff spent time dealing with behaviour issues! We have our own 'Bunny Park' where children care for the rabbits (and guinea pig) on a daily basis. We have our own Museum that is beginning to be used to help stimulate creative writing, support history projects and encourage research methodologies. Our use of our extensive grounds is developing with new vegetable plots and flowerbeds. Staff are now more inclined to take risks and approach learning in a different way, less concerned with product and more playful with process, including senior leaders who now have meetings that are vibrant and full of creative thinking, reflection and ideas! This work has even extended beyond the school boundaries, with performances happening outside near the local shops, exhibitions in Basildon town centre and the involvement of members of our parents group in Nest. This core group of parents explored their own feelings about home life, creativity and learning and made a major contribution to our promenade Nest performance.

The journey hasn't always been easy: staff, children, parents and governors have needed to take risks - most have paid off; focusing on processes rather than products has required a change in approach both for the adults and the children; many staff have given up their own time without knowing quite what they were letting themselves in for; staff, children and parents have participated in activities where they have found themselves outside of their comfort zone; timelines, some events and activities have lacked clarity beforehand, but we've gone for it!

For me, as a new Headteacher in a challenging school, Creative Partnerships provided the vehicle to explore creative ways of tackling under-achievement and a lack of motivation. Our school is different now to how it was three years ago and our work with Creative Partnerships has played a big part in this improvement.... back to comments page »

Diane Pilgrim

Headteacher, Briscoe Primary School and Nursery

book detailsarrow

A full colour, illustrated book documenting some of the images and ideas generated by this event, authored by Sarah Cole, illustrated by Talya Baldwin and published by Creative Partnerships is now available.

If you would like to find out more about the book, please feel free to get in touch.


Documentation Photographs: Andrew Whittuck, KevinDutton and Sarah Cole. Lighting Design: Adam Povey and Jake Bennett. Creative Partnerships Thames Gateway, Director: Sue Lawther. Creative Partnerships Thames Gateway, Programmer: Serena Abbott. Performers: Thomas, Lucas, Phoebe, Josh, Bobbie, Kayleigh, Zack, Bradley, John, Brooke, Hayley, Jade, Emily, Sian, Lewis, Tommy, Sarah, Clare, Josh, Alex, Casey, Pat, Jan, Karen, Christian, Aaron, Hope, Sophie, Summer, Jason, Jordan, Rachel, Paige, Connor, Lizzy, Charlie, Vissey, KerryAnn, Dean, Courteney, Karan, Caitlin, Ethan, Taylor, Jake, Abbey-lee, Jac, Katrina, Jordan, Georgia, Ben, Jordan, Iain, Charlie, Jordan, Alicia, Kelly, Ian, Debbie, Charlotte, Tammy, Nina, Fern, Diane and Vicky. Artists: Sarah Cole, Mark Storor, Jules Maxwell, Helen Lowe, Julian Walker and Rachel Anderson.