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2000 North East School Pupils to Activate Cultural Change in Schools by Being Curious

6 December 2019

Children from primary schools across the North East, part of the Ironstone Academy Trust, have visited Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA) across the year as part of a yearlong pilot where pupils were invited ‘to be curious’ at MIMA.

The Ironstone Academy Trust which includes six schools and serves over 2000 pupils in Tees Valley, took part in the initiative with MIMA, as part of a call to action to bring about change in schools, motivated by school children and influenced by MIMA and its core principles of connecting art, people and ideas.

MIMA’s Learning Curator, Claire Pounder comments: “We have a strong commitment to schools and fully support cultural capital within educational organisations.  The Invitation to be Curious model is now active across nine schools and is an important way for children’s voices to be heard.

“We work with the philosophical inquiry model (P4C) and with exciting hands on activities which are then used back in the classroom, supported by teachers.”

 This week saw pupils from Ormesby Primary School revisit MIMA and reflect on the year and to make plans to move forward with their actions in school.  Early 2020, the school children will then deliver their findings through a series of workshops at MIMA and in schools, to other pupils and teaching staff within the Ironestone Academy Trust.

Teacher Monique Tokarski, Ormesby Primary School, Ironestone Academy Trust added: “In 2017, Ormesby Primary School approached MIMA with ideas for an educational visit.  It blossomed into an amazing working partnership that has empowered our pupils.  They are creative leaders at our school and they are working hard to influence their teachers and inspire their peers.   We are all excited to see where our partnership with MIMA leads us in the future and how it is supporting our Artsmark journey.”

Invitation to be Curious offers a new model for relationships between artists, arts organisations and schools and aims to embed the arts as a driver of powerful learning experiences, as well as enabling pupils to access and participate in arts-based learning activities.

“The model which places young people at the forefront of creativity, also supports teachers with professional development opportunities and supports schools to work towards achieving ‘Artsmark’, Art Council England’s flagship programme which enables schools as well as other organisations evaluate, strengthen and celebrate their arts and cultural provision,” adds Pounder.

Pupil Rhys Carsley, age 10 from Ormesby Primary School said: “This project was all very new when we started.  We had never made art with other people before, only our friends in our class.  We’ve worked with other children from other schools and MIMA staff who were amazing and we get to learn the meaning of art from them each time we visit.”

Isla Faloon, age 10 added: “I was nervous about it being hard and if I could do art.  When I came to MIMA, I got into art and it started to get exciting.  I love to see the abstract art and art with lots of detail.  Now I feel very excited about our project and MIMA teachers are so kind.  They set up painting, printing, drawing and designing activities for us and all of our Art Ambassadors in the other schools.  Thank you MIMA.”


Note to Editors:
Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art is part of Teesside University. It plays a key role in the cultural ecology of North East England, particularly Teesside, and is internationally recognised for its mission. Its programme includes Middlesbrough Collection displays, exhibitions, learning activities, commissions, community-focused projects and events. It is funded by Arts Council England and Middlesbrough Council.

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