Stories

Schools Stories

Our stories hub is a place for teachers and support staff to find inspiration, examples of good practice and updates on the successes as part of schools' creative work.

A developing selection of case studies, feedback and reports that will showcase the amazing work happening in schools as we look to provide the launchpad for future cultural activity.

If you would like to share a story about the work your school is doing to celebrate Coventry UK City of Culture 2021, then complete the form below.

Fill in the form here.

City of Friendship

#CityOfFriendship is a project taking place in September 2021 as part of the BBC Contains Strong Language Festival of Poetry and Spoken Word in September in Coventry.

As the new term begins , we are inviting schools to take part, with children and young people (and teachers, too) across Coventry invited to respond to the question:

What does friendship mean to you?

We'd love to hear why friendship matters, the difference it makes to your lives, and why your friends are special to you.

Simply write, draw or maybe even add a short poem to the back of our special postcards (with designs by 10 Coventry artists on the front) and return them by post to BBC Coventry and Warwickshire's Open Centre.

Please note: your postcards may potentially be shared online by festival organisers, and on BBC Radio, and will eventually be included as part of a public artwork that will be on display at the Belgrade Theatre during the BBC Contains Strong Language Festival, 23-26th September 2021. Return of postcards indicates your acceptance of these terms and uses by the organisers.

If your school would like to take part, please fill in the form below, and we will send postcards, plus information about the project and details on how to return postcards from your students.

Fill in the form here.

Things are really flowing in our Special Schools!

Uncover/Discover is an ambitious programme of creative work for young people in our special schools, revealing the creativity rippling through Coventry.  Inspired by the rivers and waterways of Coventry, Uncover/Discover has three streams of artistic work for young people with learning disabilities and autism and celebrates their unique creativity.

After a slightly bumpy start due to Covid, the project got properly underway in the summer term 21, with Open Theatre practitioners in school on a weekly basis using our non-verbal physical theatre practice around the theme of water, in our first stream of work Water Water Everywhere.

In May, we were able to bring a newly recruited team of 9 professional artists across a range of art forms into the schools for our Frogs & Suchlike art weeks.  Young people were able to be creative through dance, paint, clay, animation, music, chalk, and storytelling with some amazing results.

Our final stream is River City Detectives, starting in September, with a small group of young people experiencing rivers, canals, and heritage buildings outside of school, delving into their history and creating their own detective stories to be professionally filmed and screened.

All the streams continue into the next academic year too, and we look forward to sharing the amazing creativity of the young people in a celebratory event in the City in April 2022.

Find out more about the project and contact Open Theatre here. 

Hereward College student band, Pulse, performs original song about Coventry

The Hereward College student band – Pulse – made up of BTEC Level 2 Music students performed four original songs for staff and students of Hereward. The band also performed a specially written song about Coventry as the city celebrates being the city of culture.

The students received standing ovations from the audience after their set.

Pulse, a band made up of BTEC Level 2 music students at Hereward College, have written and performed a song about Coventry as it celebrates being UK City of Culture 2021.  

Pulse performed the four original songs, including the one about being UK City of Culture, to their fellow students and the college staff. The song is about Coventry, the regeneration of the city and the history that Coventry holds. Their performance was met with standing ovations at the end of their set from students and teachers. 

Shani, a music student at the college, led the project. Shani worked with other departments, such as marketing, technical and curriculum teams to put on the event to celebrate the end of the year. 

We hope the students at Hereward College keep up the good work and enjoy Coventry as its year as City of Culture 2021. Well done to all of those involved.  

Listen to the song 

 

Read on - Short story anthology coming to Coventry Secondary Schools!

Image: Reads After Summer & Other Stories - boat floating out to sea beneath an orange moon

Image: Reads After Summer & Other Stories - boat floating out to sea beneath an orange moon

The Coventry City of Culture Trust recently partnered with Writing West Midlands to help 4 local schools participate in Read On, a project that will see an anthology of short stories for young people, commissioned by young people, circulated to schools.

During the 2021 lockdown, in deepest, darkest winter, we sent writers Matt Black, Rob Ganley, Andrea Mbarushimana and Rosalind Harvey to run online creative writing workshops in four of Coventry’s secondary schools: Barr's Hill School, Corley Centre, President Kennedy School and Cardinal Newman School.

The aim of each workshop was for the pupils to inspire their writer with ideas for a short story that they would then go away and write – with each story featuring the characters, storylines and settings suggested by the young people.

While it is not unusual for writers to have to write to a commission, or on a particular theme, it is not often that the people telling them what to write are teenagers!

Unsurprisingly, the stories that have emerged examine lockdown in different ways. Some are about escaping from reality, some look at anxiety and stress faced by young people living in a pandemic. Other focuses include present-day Coventry, as well as an alternative reality Coventry, creating interesting staging for some of the stories. 

In all the stories, the main characters are young people dealing with all sorts of obstacles, adapting to new and changing circumstances, and finding within themselves the strength and capacity to cope.

“Many thanks for allowing us to be part of such a wonderful project!” MFL Teacher, PKS

It was a great experience for the students – thank you so much for involving us!” Head of MFL, Barrs Hill

“Thank you for a fantastic session - our students absolutely loved the opportunity and are buzzing with ideas.” Cardinal Newman School

The Anthology will be widely distributed in Coventry secondary schools before the end of the school year. We will also have some available to order and, if you are interested, please sign up to the Writing West Midlands Schools & Young Writers mailing list to receive ordering details once it is published.

Writing West Midlands Schools & Young Writers Mailing List

If you are a teacher or work with young people and want inspiration to get young people writing creatively and reading more, you can read our practical guide, available online.

Reading and Writing Guidebook 

Writing West Midlands is the Regional Literature Development agency. It runs workshops and creative writing events for writers of all ages, including monthly Spark creative writing groups for young people aged 8 - 18. You can find out more by visiting www.sparkwriters.org or www.writingwestmidlands.org

This project was part of the READ ON project, co-funded by Creative Europe. More information about READ ON, and its mission to get young people reading and writing creatively, can be found at www.readon.eu

Thousands of pupils participate in Coventry moves

The pandemic has not stopped thousands of Coventry pupils from years 4-9 participating in Coventry Moves, the signature event for the year of culture. More than 70 schools signed up for the project which has seen young people designing flags and banners celebrating the city, its past and its future.

Pupils have been asked to explore six set themes (Social Justice, People Power, Resilience, Sustainability, Youthfulness and Innovation) and to create a flag design around one of them- choosing one word to highlight their aspirations and hopes for the City to be a major part of their design. More than 2000 of these designs will be turned into banners to be displayed as part of Coventry Moves; all of the other submissions will be digitally scanned for upload onto a new platform via Coventry Digital, creating a massive resource for youth voice- one word at a time!

We are so delighted with the response to the Coventry Moves Banner project- schools have joined in enthusiastically despite all the challenges of lockdown, homeschooling, re-opening, working in bubbles and more. 

"For so many schools to complete the project in these circumstances is amazing.” Andy Reeves, Arts Education Manager, Coventry City of Culture Trust.

“All students from Coventry CEL have participated in the ideas, development and construction. It has enabled them to truly think about what Social Justice means to them and given them a connection to the city of culture. This is probably the first time that our students have been trusted to do something important and I would like to say a heartfelt thank you.” Coventry Extended Learning Centre

“The resources  are so detailed and informative for staff and pupils.” Sacred Heart Primary

“We loved completing the project, it fell at a great time for us to focus the students, have a great project that went from remote home learning to the classroom. We are going to complete a similar project in September with our new yr. 7 students, we were so pleased with the project and the results.” Finham Park Secondary

Image: Provided by Whittle Academy/Family Learning Team. Examples of flag designs with hand-cut images against the words Freedom, Strength, Care, Heroes, Hope, Solidarity, Art, Canal and Future

Image: Provided by Whittle Academy/Family Learning Team. Examples of flag designs with hand-cut images against the words Freedom, Strength, Care, Heroes, Hope, Solidarity, Art, Canal and Future

Coventry Moves Banners - on display in broadgate and online

Image Credit: Whitley Academy

Image Credit: Whitley Academy

As part of the Coventry Moves celebrations, pupils were asked to design flags and banners in the cutout style of Henri Matisse, responding to the six major themes of Coventry Moves.

The themes were Sustainability, Social Justice, Innovation, People Power, Youthfulness and Resilience.

Incredibly, over 6000 flags were designed by pupils across the city. Hundreds were selected from the submissions to be woven together as flags above Broadgate, Coventry City Centre as part of the event's design.

You can view all of the submissions below, school by school.

Coventry Moves Flags Directory

Feeling inspired? If you are a parent, guardian, or school who would like to try your hand at making a flag with your child/class you can find resources here:

Coventry Moves Banner Resources

You can then create an account on Coventry Digital and submit your flag too, contact [email protected] to get set up.

Longford Park Display

Longford Park Welcomes!

Schools continue to use Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 as a focal point for amazing creative work of all kinds.

Check out the work of Longford Park Primary, who have been part of a project with Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre for Coventry Welcomes.

The school used a variety of books about migration to inspire both writing and artwork, then created a live gallery on the school fence…

School Creative Project

Schools across the City have begun to mark the opening of the year of City of Culture activities with their own creative projects. Check out these pictures from Sidney Stringer Primary. Pupils from every year group decorated bottle tops to form a part of a floral display on the school gates. School Cultural Champion Lise Reeve wrote to tell us:

 “Every child in school painted at least one lid in a colour of their choice to create our collaborative art project! This is our 'Welcome to Hillfields' for all who walk past!”

Send us your photos of any City of Culture inspired activity in your school!

Image: Sidney Stringer's Creative Project

Image: Sidney Stringer's Creative Project

Writing West Midlands

Writing West Midlands are pleased to announce that Coventry schools will soon be flooded with books commissioned by Coventry school children and written by Coventry writers!

A new anthology of short stories The Long and the Short of It and Other Stories, featuring writing by Matt Black, Rob Ganley, Rosalind Harvey and Andrea Mbarushimana, commissioned by key stage 3 children from Corley Centre, President Kennedy School, Barr’s Hill School and Cardinal Newman School will be distributed for all key stage 3 pupils next week.

The writers were given their orders during a writing workshop they each ran with children from the four schools. The theme was real fiction – stories which reflect the experiences of teens today. Unsurprisingly, there are nods to COVID-19 in each story, though some are more veiled than others. All the heroes in the stories are teens, mostly living in real or fictionalised Coventry. The writers also tackled bilingualism, racism and prejudice of all kinds.

The book will be distributed as a lasting momento of Coventry’s City of Culture status. The book is published by Birmingham publisher “The Emma Press”.

Funded by Creative Europe with the aim of encouraging young people to read and engage with creative writing, this book has been made as part of the READ ON project. Writing West Midlands are the UK partner and have worked with others in Norway, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, and Italy.

If you are interested in finding out what the project has learned about engaging young people with reading and writing, you can read our guide which contains lots of practical examples of how the READ ON project has done this successfully all over Europe. This downloadable guide can be seen here: https://www.sparkwriters.org/read-on-eu-project/ To see other examples of work done by the project visit www.readon.eu