Thousands of Coventry students celebrate being UK City of Culture 2021


Thousands of students have been making their mark on City of Culture celebrations after more than 100 Coventry schools engaged with and took part in creative projects with Coventry City of Culture Trust.

Over one hundred of the city’s 115 schools, primary, secondary, special schools and pupil referral units across every ward in the city have taken inspiration from Coventry’s UK City of Culture 2021 status to reflect on a range of key societal issues and themes, their connection to the city and West Midlands region and their own wellbeing.

Over 7,000 young people from 70 schools took part in the Coventry Moves banner-making project, with students designing flags and banners in the cut-out style of Henri Matisse, responding to the programme’s six major themes which included sustainability, social justice, innovation, people power, youthfulness and resilience.

Hundreds of designs were eventually selected to be woven together to create flags which were displayed above Broadgate in the city centre as part of the signature event.

Nina Sharma, Art Teacher at the Coventry Extended Learning Centre, said: “The programme has enabled the students to truly think about what social justice means to them and given them a connection to City of Culture.”

An additional 4,000 primary school students engaged in the Passports of Kindness campaign, which gave children the chance to reflect on personal acts of kindness with sticker books based on Coventry and its history.

The books encouraged children to do random acts of kindness and think how they made them and those around them feel, with the aim of promoting positive mental health and wellbeing.

Andy Reeves, Education and Young People Programme Manager at Coventry City of Culture, said: “We are so delighted with the response from schools and pupils across the city, who’ve all joined in enthusiastically despite all the challenges of lockdown, home-schooling, and re-opening.

“It is wonderful to have engaged with so many schools only four months into our year long programme. After the success so far, we cannot wait to share our next projects including Footprints of Welcome, where schools are creating artwork to welcome Little Amal, a 3.5-metre-tall living artwork of a young Syrian refugee child, to the city as part of its 8,000km journey to bring attention to the needs of young refugees.

“Creating specific opportunities for schools to get involved with our City of Culture events has always been a priority for the Trust. We want the schools and their pupils to really embrace Coventry being UK City of Culture and use this special time in the city’s history to support their classroom activities and explore creative ways of learning.

“Our education activities for the year will culminate in creative careers activities helping encourage and inform future participation by young people in creative projects, leaving a legacy of culturally and artistically aware young people in the city, who are also proud of their home city and the impact they can have on it.”

Cllr Dr Kindy Sandhu, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: “It was always really important that our thousands of young people should be able to play a full part in celebrating Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture.

“It’s been wonderful to see the contributions they have already made including making the fantastic banners that featured so prominently in Coventry Moves, which allowed pupils to discuss and represent their views on the society they live in. I’m excited to see schools continue to be involved in UK City of Culture throughout the year with some innovative projects taking place.

 “I’m also really pleased to see a focus on creating a practical lasting legacy for our young people with plans to help those interested in creative and artistic careers.”

For more information about our work with schools, which is supported by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, click here.