The arts inspire Essex students and primary school children

  • Date

    Fri 26 May 17

Youngsters at Unity Primary School are being inspired by the arts thanks to a special partnership with students from the University of Essex.

They have been celebrating their achievements with family and friends at a special awards event at the Colchester Campus attended by the Deputy Mayor and Mayoress, Cllrs Gerard and Beverley Oxford.

The project is designed to develop future leaders within the arts sector while offering more opportunities for children to access the arts and is funded by Royal Opera House Bridge – part of the Arts Council supported national network for connecting children and young people to great art and culture.

As part of their degree studies the university students have been getting hands on experience of designing and delivering arts based workshops to the children inspired by their studies at Essex and their own interests.

This has helped Year 5 children from Unity who took part in the project gain Arts Award Explore certificates, an accredited national qualification, for their achievements and progress.

The Unity children donned caps and gowns to collect their special certificates in front of an audience of more than 150 people at a ceremony brilliantly hosted by students Rio Toply and Chloe Molyneaux.

“It’s been a brilliant two-way learning experience – our undergraduate students have gained an incredible amount from working with the children,” said Kate Beckwith, Arts Education Project Manager at the University of Essex. “Unity Primary Academy has been an absolute pleasure to work with – their dedication to their learners and support of our students has made the project a real pleasure. I’d like to thank them for all their support!”

Located in Greenstead, Unity is the closest school to the University, geographically. Unity head teacher Charlotte Booth-Rylett said: “Unity’s children can almost see the University from their homes… and yet it seemed a million miles away. All of the adults at Unity are committed to raising children’s aspirations. We wanted to de-mystify the university and let them know that this incredible resource is on their doorstep.”

Kate added: “We were thrilled with the turn out… hundreds of families came to see the children collect their Arts Award Explore Awards - it shows just how proud of the children all the families are – and quite right too.”

The project is part of a new module led by academics and supported by the Arts Education Team. It aims to nurture talent, improve confidence and provide an authentic insight into the cultural education sector. Students studying History, Literature, Philosophy, Film Studies and Theatre Studies plus those studying in our Interdisciplinary Studies Centre, can all choose this as an option in their first year.

Mrs Booth-Rylett praised the work of the University’s students: “I could never have hoped for my expectations to be surpassed in the way they were. This project has given children new confidence, new hopes and incredible memories. The legacy is infinite.”

The students who worked with Unity Primary Academy can opt to build on their experience during the second and third years of their degree by completing a placement at a local cultural organisation and delivering further enhanced arts education projects.

Professor Fabian Freyenhagen, from the School of Philosophy and Art History which will be leading the module next year, said: “This project offers so many opportunities to our students to develop their skills and confidence while also discovering the power of the arts and the career options open to them within the cultural sector.

“We’re incredibly grateful to Unity Primary School for working with us to offer this unique learning experience to our students and thankful for the support we’ve received from Royal Opera House Bridge. I’m also proud our students have seized the chance to make a difference in the community.”

The Arts Education Team also offers a range of activities for families, schools, and CPD for teachers, and provides further opportunities for undergraduate students to engage in cultural outreach.

To find out more about opportunities to work with the Arts Education team contact Kate Beckwith, Arts Education Project Manager, at or 01206 873889.