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Creativity is the key to school's track record.

FOR Brays Special School, an outstanding primary school for children with physical, learning and complex medical conditions, the emphasis coming from all directions is "creativity."

Brays, an award-winning school in Sheldon, is one of only five special schools in England to have received the accolade of becoming a National School of Creativity. It's not just a label. It is an accurate description of everything that happens at Brays.

Brays is leading the way in developing exciting programmes of work which are inspired by every one of the pupils that attends the school - how they learn, how they communicate their ideas, and how they engage with activities presented to them.

It is not only about what is taught. It is how that is so crucial. Through modifying existing technologies and teaching strategies pupils have created and expressed their own music and artistic products independently, demonstrating progress in all areas of their learning.

Collaborative partnerships with various arts practitioners, including visual artists, drama specialists, musicians and story tellers, has delivered "mini-projects," fostering research opportunities and a tremendous amount of enjoyment and fun for the pupils.

This spirit of pupil-focussed research has resulted in a whole range of innovations leading to the development of a dedicated space for sensory drama and music workshops!

Theatrical lighting sound systems have transformed a formerly uninspiring functional area into a place of real magic and wonder!

Benefactors, such as Fujitsu Telecommunications, Ricsue and Virgin Rail, have seen their donations making a real difference every day to the experiences children receive. In this new area pupils can ponder numerous eclectic questions - What is it like to walk on the moon? What do you hear floating down the Amazon in a canoe? How does it feel to be around a crackling fire by an igloo you have just built? What does it look like at the top of a tree, looking down on the world? All of these sensations, and scores more, have had pupils wide-eyed and captivated and their responses have been eye-openers for staff, too!

As Ann Whitehouse, Deputy Head of the school proudly recalls of one group's experience in Ice Worlds: "Staff stopped me in the corridor to recount tales of pupil achievement, such as a child who picked up the stones hidden in the sensory room and declared that they were the Snow Queen's tears."

Such spontaneous imagination shines the strongest possible light on what young children can actually create for themselves when they are inspired.

Following on from in-house developments, Brays has been involved in trialling work through key collaborators on national research areas. One notable partnership, co-run by The Institute of Education at London University and Roehampton University, called "Sounds of Intent" reflects on the place of music in developing communication.

A further research focus centres on a Post Graduate Doctorate study into drama in special education. The Welsh National Opera have just embarked on a thrilling project to investigate how music can be used to develop communication.

From this they hope to create a new piece of work for performance nationally.

Published articles on subjects such as how projects with artists and how creativity and sensory drama can be built into a school's thinking have been nationally distributed.

Head teacher, Jane Edgerton, comments that "Brays is proud of its achievements and the central role its pupils and staff have played in ground-breaking work and particularly on this amazing creative expedition for all the senses. We all look forward to continuing to discover more, and to sharing our experiences with other schools."

For further information about Brays Special School telephone


Sensory experience: Children at Brays School get to explore their creativity in a variety of exciting settings.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Feb 22, 2011
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