Pupils from Oasis Academy Lister Park and Bradford Grammar School (BGS) met to challenge social and personal perceptions through beautiful artwork. The school linking event, hosted at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery was supported by Bradford Museums & Galleries Museums Learning team and Arts Council Bradford.
The event gave the 60 pupils a chance to study of works of art in the gallery while meeting new people and making new friends, laying the foundations for further collaborations during the school year. BGS pupil Grace Dawson from Bingley said: “I really loved the experience and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever taken part in.”
Many pupils felt it was a great chance to discover different cultures, identities and perspectives with young people in their beloved city. Pippa Threlfall, a BGS pupil from Ilkley commented, “It was really exciting getting to know people who come from different backgrounds and finding similarities you have with them not just as people but also through studying the art work. You get to share your interests in a fun way.”
Hassan Bashir from Ilkley really valued the experience: “I absolutely loved the link up. I met a lot of new people and made lots of new friends. It was really interesting getting to know different people from different schools and looking at the artwork together – I would definitely go again!”
Oasis Academy Lister Park pupils’ said: “Even if you don’t know each other you can still have fun”, “I can actually make friends with other people,” and “I’m a lot more confident about myself.”
As part of the ‘link up’ the pupils met with staff leaders including Rafia Shaheen, Head of RE, Oasis Academy, Meg Henry, Advisor, Linking Network and Mike de Villiers, Manningham Youth Talks Leader. Rafia Shaheen, Head of RE, Oasis Academy said “It is important for Oasis Academy students to meet BGS students to build a better sense of community and friendship and to learn from each other.
Art in this informal environment engages them in conversations they wouldn’t usually participate in. It’s been great to get together and foster a sense of belonging in Manningham. I hope that we can involve other schools in future so we can all benefit from more diversity, extra opinions and different school cultures.”
Meg Henry, Advisor, Linking Network spoke about how art brings different school communities together, “Using the art curriculum in this way to practice and enhance life skills like networking and finding common ground has worked very well.”
Mike de Villiers, Manningham Youth Talks Leader agrees, “It has been a chance to encounter each other in a neutral, safe place. Using art to stimulate conversations, meeting new people and creating images is the first of three days that we will get together.”
Emma Milford, BGS teacher of Geography and Manningham Youth Talks Leader was extremely pleased with the outcome:
“This event shows that collaboration and cooperation as well as an appreciation for art are alive and kicking in Manningham. We were overwhelmed with students who wanted to get involved.
In this day and age when people often judge in advance of meeting people, this simple concept helps to challenge preconceptions and break down barriers. Both Oasis and BGS students commented that it wasn’t what they expected and ‘they’re just the same as us.’”
“I really loved the experience and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever taken part in.”
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