Tuesday, 14 June 2011

"Flying the Flag for Haydon - 2011 ...the adventure has begun!"

Although everything seems to have been a little quiet on the community front over the last couple of months ('quiet' if you based your assumptions of activity on how often I update this blog at any rate..) the reality is that it's really been a little like a swan gliding across a lake. Serene on top but with frantic paddling going on underneath.

A stack of flags and Orinoco Womble at Hillcrossl
The frantic paddling has, for the most part, consisted of both devising a range of community activities for the coming year and - having finally come up with a set of activities which seem to be both worthwhile and achievable - then put in applications to a number of grant-providers to actually help fund them.  I suspect money will be tight enough as it is this year so making the most of available  funding opportunities will be crucial over the next year or two.

There have been some successes with the applications and some disappointments and there are still a few decisions outstanding, but that couldn't stand in the way of the first of those projects, the exciting return of AFC Wimbledon's exercise in art on the vast scale, "Flying the Flag for Haydon!"

This actually kicked off in March of this year with an invitation being sent out to all the primary schools in Merton reminding them of last years project and inviting them to participate in this years. We had about six positive responses but as is the case with these sort of activities, a couple of initial responders dropped out due to time pressure or other demands on the staff. Not that this should be seen as too much of a disappointment - both the schools that dropped out are still interested in taking part next year and it could be that the way we have organised the project could be improved to make it easier to accommodate within the school year (live and learn!). Anyway, the four schools that still wanted to take part were Hillcross, Hatfeild, Abbotsbury and Dundonald and between them they are looking at producing six flags - the same as we were able to show last year. The schools are all Merton primary schools, but this is down more to my previous job with Merton Council than anything else. If you have any contacts within Kingston or Wandsworth schools then please let me know and I'll drop them an invite!

Flag Shows
So, the real starting point of the project is the visit to the school for a flag show, and an invitation to the children to take up the challenge of producing a flag to represent their school. I hope that the project provides a valuable contribution to the Keystage 2 Art & Design curriculum and if you consider what is entailed in the production of a school flag - the designing, collaboration, scaling up, use of powerpoint and projection for lettering, the considerations of visibility and clarity..... all of these seem to tie in well with the sumary of the national curriculum summary as detailed below

5. During the key stage, pupils should be taught the Knowledge, skills and understanding through:

  1. exploring a range of starting points for practical work [for example, themselves, their experiences, images, stories, drama, music, natural and made objects and environments]
  2. working on their own, and collaborating with others, on projects in two and three dimensions and on different scales
  3. using a range of materials and processes, including ICT [for example, painting, collage, print making, digital media, textiles, sculpture]
  4. investigating art, craft and design in the locality and in a variety of genres, styles and traditions [for example, in original and reproduction form, during visits to museums, galleries and sites, on the internet].

Well if displaying your flag at a football ground isn't an interesting variation on point 4 I don't know what would be!

Hatfeild Primary School
The first visit was to Hatfeild Primary on Lower Morden Lane. A very friendly school with some really on the ball pupils as can be seen from the following exchange. Me: "Does anyone have any questions?" Bright spark in the front row: "Yes. Did you make it up to Manchester the other week for the final? Because I did....." Me (thinks) "This is going to be an enjoyable morning..."

Because I pretty much went straight in to the assembly there was no chance to hang the flags up but because it was just the two classes in the hall  we had plenty of space to lay a lot of flags on the floor for the children to walk around, which worked pretty well I thought. Another development was the use of a small powerpoint slide show to help explain what wombles are and what the project was about. Very useful and I was able to use it in three out of the four schools

The key though is to show the children the flags produced by the children the previous year. That really caught their interest and fired their imagination, especially if they knew some of the schools that participated! 

So that was the first flag display and very enjoyable it was too. Then as I was packing up I had a chat with one of the members of staff who confided that her father used to be a steward at Plough Lane and that he had also been to a couple of AFC Wimbledon games as well,  which was a really nice touch but not, as it turned out, all that unusual. As you'll see it seems that every school has a Wimbledon connection!

Hillcross Primary School
  That was the Tuesday.  Wednesday saw me at Hillcross Primary school, strolling up the drive as classes were already filing into the hall! Not much time for elaborate preparation then and after being spotted by Mrs Jertzee and having a few quick words, I was straight into the assembly. Some IT savy pupils took full control of my memory-stick, set up the powerpoint and did a very competent job with the presentation as well. As it happened the teacher leading the assembly went through an art project involving album covers of the 80's and as an introduction to the project was able to neatly segue into great events of 1988 and the Wimbledon FA Cup triumph before letting me loose on the pupils. Nicely done sir! When asked if they had any idea what I might be, some very kind youngsters suggested I might in fact be a football player or possibly a coach. I don't think a flag-painter was quite up there in the hierarchy of impressive roles, but certainly they seemed enthusiastic enough, as did the members of staff afterwards. Second coincidence - one of the teachers had once been a  steward at Plough Lane and she was well acquainted with the Sportsman's bar herself and through her time at the club she was also a friend of Chris Perry .. coincidental link number two!

As a result of this assembly I was also invited back to Hillcross to help out with a flag painting workshop the following week. I'm really looking forward to this as one thing that I enjoyed about the High Path project was the involvement with the participants and I'm wondering what sort of ideas the Hillcross youngsters are going to come up with for their design.

So that was the first week and there were still assemblies at Dundonald and Abbotsbury to come!

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