School Focus: Chesterfield pupils develop their artistic eye to produce end-of-year photo gallery

They say every day offers the opportunity to be creative – and that definitely seems to be the case at Spire Junior School.

By Alana Roberts
Monday, 26th July 2021, 3:09 pm
The art gallery at Spire Junior was attended by special guests including representatives from education technology company Promethean and Chesterfield-based Leading Imagery Photography
The art gallery at Spire Junior was attended by special guests including representatives from education technology company Promethean and Chesterfield-based Leading Imagery Photography

During the last week of term, Year 6 pupils at the school on Jaw Bones Hill were allowed to show off their creative sides in a photographic exhibition that was enough to make even the most novice of photographers want to pick up a camera and have a go.

All the photos were taken on iPads and categorised into six themes, ranging from ‘close up’ and ‘perspective’ images to those that showcased ‘light and shadow’ or the colour ‘green’.

The Year 6 exhibition was the culmination of a term’s worth of learning and work to allow pupils to hone their skills – known at Spire Junior School as an ‘authentic outcome’.

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Children at Spire Junior School casting their votes for the Year 6 photo gallery

Headteacher Dave Shaw said: “Our curriculum is based on authentic outcomes because our children need to have something to aim for in terms of their learning so that helps focus them.

"This summer term is always our art and design authentic outcome. So, the Year 6 children have been learning about photography as part of the curriculum and we also include inspirational speakers as part of our curriculum.

"We’ve had a photographer who has come in to share with them how to take photographs and the different ways you can take photographs. Looking at things such as the rule of thirds – the basic compositional structure of a photograph. It was all very creative but also followed the rules of photography.

"They’ve had all that input and then the teachers designed the curriculum around that in terms of art and design, then the authentic outcome is our art gallery.”

Dave Shaw, headteacher of Spire Junior School

In terms of the art curriculum, Spire Junior School prides itself on allowing pupils to fully explore their creativity without limit.

They are able to develop their skills as they progress, starting with the basics in Year 3 and moving to more complex techniques in Year 6.

The summer term also saw other year groups have their own ‘authentic outcomes’, with the Year 4 pupils taking on a sewing task which was later displayed and the Year 5’s creating clay sculptures after drawing inspiration from those on show around Chesterfield

“Every term is different, for example autumn term there is a history topic,” Mr Shaw added.

Pupils at Spire Junior School have been exploring their creative side over the last term

"Two years ago – the last time we did it before lockdown – the Year 4’s hired a shop window and made it into a World War Two museum.

"They made the artifacts, they made medals out of clay, they wrote letters as if they were World War Two soldiers. The public went in and gave their feedback which was really well received.

"Our spring term is geography based. So, our Year 3 children designed and wrote a non-fiction book about natural disasters. We had that professionally published and had a launch party where parents came and bought copies of the book so that gave them something to aim for.”

Children at Spire Junior School are not limited when it comes to their creativity

"Doing this builds confidence, it gives them different skills such as public speaking. They’re thinking about their work and having an audience for their work which has a positive impact on what they produce because they know people are going to see it.”

"Getting the inspirational speakers as part of the curriculum is also something we pride ourselves on as it gives the children the options for later life in terms of widening their horizons and allowing them to look at what jobs are available because they need that.”

"The children also enjoy being able to take their parents to places to see their work. Virgin Money in Chesterfield wanted to showcase some of our work and I know children have been down there.

"The more we can work together to showcase our childrens’ work, it brings them on leaps and bounds.”

Although each term brings a different topic, English lessons at Spire Junior School are always in keeping with the theme, with the Year 5’s recently enjoying ‘Iron Man’ as it linked with their topic of art and sculptures.

Mr Shaw said that, like with any schools, some activities and experiences have been curtailed over the last academic year due to Covid-19 – but remains hopeful that the majority of things can return to normal come September.

He said: “We’ve had to work round the rules and have had minimal parents in school but we have had Zoom calls with professionals in terms of inspirational speakers. We had a competition with Parkside Community School where their science teacher was judging our childrens’ work on Zoom.

"We’ve set up a YouTube channel so we can put our assemblies on there and showcase work. It’s made us adapt and some of the things we will keep, such as the YouTube channel which will help us celebrate the school moving forward.”

He added: “The lockdown has brought the parental community together in terms of the way we’ve supported the community; remaining open, delivering food parcels, supporting the community.

"Together I know we’re going to be stronger moving forward. It’s a real strength of the school, that the school and the community work really well together to support our children.

Unfortunately, the Year 6 pupils were forced to isolate and sadly could not see their gallery first hand before the end of the academic year.

Instead, members of the school community as well as special guests – including the Derbyshire Times and education technology company Promethean – were invited to vote for their favourite photo.

Staff at the school have also shared photos and videos of the gallery and are encouraging the public to vote for their favourite through Facebook or Twitter.

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