Tuesday 26 February 2013

A day with Smaugs at Weoley Castle Library

As part of Arts March and Paganel Archives project, Paganel Primary Year 4 have been at Weoley Castle Library. For more info please see Laura's excellent Northfield Arts Forum blog entry, 2 min audio clip or photo gallery below.  Loads going on for Northfield Arts March and well worth taking some time to check it out.  Weoley Castle activities mainly taking place over this weekend (2nd 3rd March)
Image of Smaug is superfluous, but takes me back to the front cover of 'The Hobbit' I read as a child!

Useful links:

Sunday 24 February 2013

Sale, one listed walled garden

The Horticultural, conservation & Training unit at Leasowes Park has been closed since summer 2012, and not too surprised to see the 'For sale' sign going up.

If I had a spare few thousand, definitely something I'd be interested in - a maintained historic walled garden, in need of some renovation.

Plans to sell it faltered in 2007 when the college changed it's mind, and it's future has very much been under a cloud since.  It has been hoped the council might 'buy back' the garden from the college, but does the appearance of a 'for sale' sign signal the end of this possibility?

I'm particularly saddened given the historical significance of the park and the efforts of the active and able Friends of the Leasowes (contact @Leasowes_Park on Twitter)

The community around Leasowes and the suitability of the site itself is crying out for some kind of community venture.  Is there someone out there willing to take it on?

Below is video from a project I was involved in in 2009 with the Friends showing the garden, presented by a Stourbridge College group using the garden at the time:

Useful links:






Tuesday 5 February 2013

Make do and Mend

Paganel Archives room, nearly ready!
Today we held a coffee morning for parents and contributors to 'Make do and mend' - the latest project  at Paganel Primary School - part of Paganel Archives (HLF funded). Since September the 'Paganel Archive Team' has grown to include an archives after-school club, their interviewing, cataloguing, and general archive skills getting more and more impressive as the year goes by.  Added to which we have developed both a fantastic archive room and the archives themselves being constantly added to, catalogued efficiently and, most importantly, used by the children to reflect and learn.

We started September with Birmingham Archives and Heritage training our team to keep archives and to interview in depth.  This was followed by a team from the Rep theatre workshop supporting designing the archive room - they are now putting finishing touches to our archive room.

A window into one of the archive room models made by yr5 

The after-school club followed from the Archive training and has led to a whole series of interviews and cataloguing beyond what we had hoped possible, including parents, teaching staff and other visitors and people connected to the school.  The after school club meets weekly to support the project with cataloguing, oral history recording and other activities.

'Make do and mend' has been a terrific example of how a school archive can be used to value the contribution of parents, the community and children, developing ownership of the school and more engaging relevant learning, encouraging reflection on previous work.

The first workshop we looked at archive material about 'Make do and mend' (a WW2 initiative to make the most of limited resources, involving Recycling, Reusing and Reducing and reviewed some of the 'making do and mending' residents of Sellywood House might be familiar with.  We then visited Sellywood House, a nursing and residential home for older people, where residents talked to children about their experiences of 'Making do and mending'

By the next workshop we had transcripts from interviews prepared and the children worked to relate comments by residents to issues relating to their topic - recycle, reuse, reduce.  The yr5 group categorised the quotes themselves, which led them to settle on a single topic within recycling to create their own collages in small groups (from recycled materials, of course).  They worked in small groups to develop both their ideas and artwork.  Today parents came in to see their presentations of their artwork, and of course, to be interviewed about their experiences of recycling.

The project uses archive material, and will add to the growing Paganel archive - a (now) substantial resource of material including some great (partially transcribed, fully catalogued) interviews of parents, children and local residents, relating to a range of topics within the curriculum, documenting and valuing the lives and stories of our school community.
Categorising comments
Exhibition space at Paganel
Interviewing Olive at Sellywood House
Reviewing recycled materials for artwork
Archive recipe for shampoo and cough medicine
Interviewing Beryl
Explaining rag rugs, hot rocks and corking to teachers
Interviewing parents about recycling today

Children, staff and parents commented:

'It's great to come in and see what the children are doing, and this work has been relevant and got them thinking...When I was growing up I used to make go-karts, like Mr Shufflebottom...now I'm a car mechanic!'

'I've really enjoyed seeing all the work they've done.  The after-school club has been so popular - It's the one thing she doesn't want to miss.'

'We really want to encourage parents to come into our school - this project and the Paganel Archives has been great at encouraging parents in to see what we do here.'

'It was scary doing the presenting [artwork], but I'm glad I did it.  I'm really proud of what I've done.'