Colourful felt squares laid out on a table

OAT Liberty Chain – Arts and British Citizenship

In response to the ongoing national depletion of arts based learning and engagement experiences within schools, Ormiston Academies Trust (a Multi Academy Trust supporting 36 schools across England), in collaboration with Midlands based youth arts organisations; Sampad, Work in Progress and We are Frilly with funding from Arts Council and Arts Connect, launched Liberty Chain: a 6 month multi-arts production and engagement project, led by 70 OAT students from across 4 of our Academies.

Using the key themes of British Values and Citizenship, the programme includes a series of experimental professionally led arts workshops, CPD, cultural site visits, collaborative sharing, Arts Award and Arts Award assessor training.

Liberty chain will culminate in a 4-day student led arts festival and celebration and an online teaching resource, developed in collaboration with all participants.

The 4 OAT primary and secondary academies come from across the West Midlands and include; Tenbury High Ormiston Academy, Packmoor Ormiston Academy, Ormiston Forge Academy and Ormiston Shelfield Academy.

Working with Artists

Artists have begun to work with the students to develop their artwork and act as a critical friend, pushing our pupils and teachers to explore their creative thinking and delivery.

Students chose their artforms prior to the artists starting, and used these choices to recruit the artists, the artform then informed the venue for the students cultural trip later on in the year.

Shelfield is working with Tasawar Bashir, focusing on tolerance, explored through architecture and sound installations. Forge are working with Sanyogita Kumari focusing on respect and tolerance delivered through performance and musical theatre. Packmoor is working with Alice Thatcher and is focusing on heritage and a range of British Values, explored through pottery and Tenbury are working with Sally Harper using screen printing to explore diversity, acceptance and respect.

Opening Doors

OAT believe in the importance of broadening the horizons and life experiences of all our pupils. It was essential that this was reflected within this project. So, as well as the immersive skills development and art sessions, participants will visit and explore local cultural venues. This is a key element of the project for us and our students. Through planning and discussion is was clear that many of our young people had no knowledge of local arts and cultural venues, some said that they didn’t feel it was for them, they didn’t feel welcome. We want to physically and figuratively open the door to these venues and encourage students to feel welcome. We know that this has the potential to have a transformative impact on how our young people engage with their community and local cultural venues.

Arts Award

Underpinning this learning, and with the generous support of Arts Connect, we will be delivering Explore and Bronze Arts awards to our students and already have plans to train more teachers as advisors and offer the opportunity to work towards accreditation for more of our students.

Going Forward

This is such an exciting opportunity for us as a MAT and we are thrilled by the potential that this project and partnership can offer our students and wider community, we will be keeping you up to date with the progress of the project, but for now, rather than me going on about how great it is, I think it would be better expressed by one of our students.

“We want an art piece that will give a message, working on this project and through Arts Award it has helped us think about the what and why of what we are doing, rather than just slapping some paint on a picture.”
Millie, Shelfield Student

This is a series of blogs on Liberty Chain, by Ormiston Academies Trust.

For more information about the project or OAT Enrichment please contact OAT Enrichment Manager: Jemima Waltho