50 Days of Lockdown


By Carys Owen (Cuckoo), Partnerships Manager

Today marks fifty days of lockdown in the UK or seven weeks of school closures, a week longer than the usual school summer holidays. In that time, as a creative learning charity, we’ve had to change our modus operandi quite drastically.


Our Artis Specialists, who are freelance performing artists and arts educators, work in schools on a weekly basis for the full academic year, but with school closures and social distancing they have now set up virtual creative classrooms in their own homes.


Using music, dance and drama activities, Specialists are pre-recording sessions for their class groups which are bespoke to the topics they’re covering in the curriculum.  Children at home are able to join in with songs, movement sequences, and drama games to learn about classroom topics, with opportunities to participate at home.


Since the end of the Easter half-term break, our incredible Artis Specialists have recorded 240 videos for over 15,000 children across the country. Children see the Artis Specialists they know and love in a weekly video, strengthening their connection to school, and offering children fun ways to learn at home or at school.


Black and White Film Take Board


As an organisation, like many we’ve had to learn on the job. Refreshing our safeguarding policies to reflect remote delivery, updating our training material for best practice online, using online conference calls for mentoring meetings, and switching to virtual session observations to ensure quality. As a central team, we’ve been seeking guidance and mutual learning from our peers in creative education, speaking with Senior Leadership Teams at each of our partner schools and asking for feedback wherever possible, and we’ve been reflecting daily on our protocols in line with government guidance.


We have also had to learn about ourselves as an organisation and how we can best support our employee’s wellbeing in a time of such national stress. As our Artis Specialists are freelance performing artists, we are very pleased that we have been able to continue to offer them paid work at a time when much of their work has been reduced.


In the period to come, we will continue to reflect on our learning and think forward to what children, teachers, parents, Artis Specialists and schools need from us as things begin to reopen and eventually return to normality. Echoing Jacqui O’Hanlon’s piece on the Cultural Learning Alliance website, we will be questioning :


  • What will children and teachers need when they return to school in the short and medium term? What part can arts and culture play? 
  • What will our most disadvantaged children need when they return to school and what role can arts and cultural learning play in supporting them?
  • What is Covid-19 teaching us to do differently in arts and cultural education? 
  • What are some of the changes we might see in schools and in the arts and cultural sector after the Covid-19 crisis is past?


We were extremely pleased to receive funding from the Arts Council Emergency Fund and will be utilising these funds to create more remote provision for schools across the country, support the training of our Artis Specialists in new modes of delivery, and design future content that will aid children’s re-integration into school settings and support their wellbeing.


In the meantime, please keep an eye on our website for updated resources, creative content and activities that can be used throughout the current crisis and going forward into the new normal.

12 May 2020

Registered Charity Number 1174635
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