Creativity is Essential to a Recovery Curriculum


By Carys Owen (Cuckoo), Partnerships and Impact Manager

In 1951, the Festival of Britain took place on the Southbank in London. The Festival marked a celebration of Britain’s achievements in arts, science, and industry following the turmoil of the Second World War with the aim of promoting the feeling of recovery. The summer-long festival included arts exhibitions, concert performances, film festivals, and the opening of new buildings, parks, and arts spaces. During the war, singing and dancing in particular, had been a source of happiness and togetherness at a time of great sadness. The arts had brought people together and the Festival of Britain honoured the arts for its contribution to the country’s spirit .

Over the past few months the world has changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The resulting school closures have meant that many children have been isolated from their teachers and their peers for almost half of the academic year. Children have missed curriculum time, but more importantly than that they have missed social time to interact with their friends, to share and discuss, to play and explore. Whilst there have been incredible opportunities for learning online during this time which will likely revolutionise teaching and learning, this does not make up for the life skills children develop within the school setting.

Lockdown for many would have been difficult without some form of the arts – whether that was watching a film or television series, listening to music, learning to crochet, choreographing dances in your kitchen, reading a book, doodling a picture of your dog, or learning to make sourdough bread – we are certain that the arts was an essential part of your lockdown.

Now, as teachers prepare for the wider reopening of schools, we believe that the arts are essential as we come back together, to underpin a recovery curriculum and support children’s wellbeing and reintegration into school.

Children will need to get used to being back in the school environment, re-learning the rules of how to interact with the space, their teachers and one another.

Here are some ideas of how creative sessions can support children going back to school:


  • Music is an incredible tool to create a feeling of unity and supporting social bonds. Singing assemblies would be a great opportunity to bring a sense of togetherness, and if you aren’t all able to be in the hall space – you could sing outside, or choose a time and ask each of the groups to sing across the school at the same time.


  • Dancing is another fantastic way to create a feeling of togetherness even when we can’t all be near one another. Perhaps you could put some music on in the playground at break times so that children can remain in their bubbles and choreograph movement pieces in response to the music.


  • Spatial awareness is going to be a key skill that children, particularly early years and lower KS1, will need to develop in this time of social distancing. Understanding how to move through a space and how to keep a distance can be taught and understood by the language we use in dance and movement. You can select a topic theme, miniature beasts for example, and ask children to think about how ants move in an organised fashion around a space keeping equal distance and never bumping into one another. Can they recreate this in a space set to music?


  • It will be an exciting and potentially quite overwhelming time for children to be back in school so effective behaviour management will be key. Using creative learning strategies for behaviour management could be really useful to refocus children while keeping the mood positive and upbeat. Using call and response clapping rhythms is a good way of bringing the class back together, listening and focussing for a new instruction or activity. We’ve got a blog all about how you can use creative strategies for behaviour management.


  • Mental Health and Wellbeing – The effects of lockdown on everyone’s emotional health is something that we are yet to fully understand, but it will be important to ensure school is a safe and positive space The arts are a brilliant tool for supporting children’s wellbeing. Artis sessions are designed to support children’s emotional resilience by giving children opportunities to express themselves, share learning with their peers, interact with each other, and experience emotions through drama, dance and music. Click here for our top tips for supporting mental health and wellbeing in the classroom.


  • Over lockdown, many children will have had opportunities for self-directed and active learning with a more flexible timetable than at school. They may have started each day with PE with Joe Wicks, or had remote Geography lessons with David Attenborough. This explorative or active style of learning is something you may want to facilitate further as children come back to school. Children without outside space or in small homes will be getting used to having the opportunity to stretch their legs in the playground so taking sessions outside. Could you start each day with a Joe Wicks style work out in the mornings outside to blow off the cob-webs?


When we are back in school, our Artis Specialists are able to tailor their school sessions to support children’s wellbeing, develop spatial awareness, and create a feeling of togetherness through music, drama and dance. In these creative sessions, children are active learning and exploring topics as they are brought to life in front of them by a professional performing arts educator. We want children to feel safe in their school environment and feel confident to participate, share, and communicate with their peers again.


To find out more about Artis and our ongoing learning programme, click to download our brochure or click to contact us.

22 Jun 2020

Registered Charity Number 1174635
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