From a child’s eye view to a teacher’s eye view

Published: 23 June 2021 

Ten EYFS teachers and SLTs in primary schools from the Southerly Point Co-Operative Multi-Academy Trust in Cornwall are working with artists from Music and Dance Education and the Minack Theatre. Provocations in music, dance and drama are designed to support language, communication and PSED. Their evaluation is being managed by the project team and this blog highlights some of their evaluation techniques and reflects on their impact.

The challenge for senior leaders, teachers and artist practitioners within A Child’s Eye View’ has been the mindset shift from child to teacher development. Some evaluation tools introduced throughout the project have been effective whereas others have limited learning outcomes.

Teachers and artists in the classroom

Between September 2019 and March 2020, the evaluators conducted baseline assessments, audio-taped conversations and collected photographic evidence alongside teacher statements and artist diaries reflecting on the process. Three children were also chosen as a focus for case studies and their engagement with the project was tracked across this period.

The range of evidence highlighted the positive impact of artistic interventions with children. However, photographic evidence was unsuccessful as it required contextualisation from teachers and artists, and time was not available. The artists valued sharing reflective evidence given isolation as freelancers and this had a positive impact on future delivery plans. The quantity of evidence requested was challenging for teachers given their ongoing responsibilities – resulting in inconsistent responses. Two issues arose: there was limited evidence of the project’s impact on teacher development and of effectively engaging SLT’s in the process.

Video provocations during the pandemic

Teachers, artists and SLTs took part in reflective Zoom meetings between March 2020 and April 2021 to discuss their progress. Teachers were invited to share feedback on children’s responses to video provocations, video children’s work and upload these to a project YouTube Channel.

Despite this challenging period, teachers attended reflective Zoom meetings with enthusiasm and uploaded children’s responses. Others wrote case study observations of children’s engagement with the provocations. From September 2020 these videos were used as a way to introduce new pupils to the artists before face to face delivery began later in the year. These provocations were of huge benefit to teachers in supporting the delivery of learning through the arts during this period. Teachers often used them as a resource for sessions that they themselves were leading.

Collaborative mini projects in the classroom

In the Summer Term, the evaluators conducted baseline assessments on the progress of three children in each school, and facilitated weekly structured conversations between teachers and artists. Teachers and artists submitted short reflective summaries about the personal impact of the project to present to SLTs and MADE Directors, as appropriate, prior to the final evaluation meeting, and SLTs, teachers and artists completed reflective questions to share at that meeting.

Significantly, during April/​May 2021 the project lead organisations found it invaluable to discuss evaluation and learning with a PHF advisor. Delivering the first two terms of planned CPD and CPDL activities and then needing to change delivery methods created new concerns and disrupted the reflection/​learning process. External support enabled a refocus from children’s development to teacher development and an increase in SLT engagement. This shift informed the mini projects process and decisions around data needed for the final evaluation meeting. This should then impact the legacy of the project, which will be addressed in the Autumn Term extension where SLTs and teachers will begin to look at curriculum development planning and embedding learning through the arts across their schools.