Drawing upon the diversity of populations evident in Newham Primary schools, London, this project looked at the real and imagined journeys and stories made by four migrating groups of people who for different reasons lived in 91 Princelet Street. This was a long term project in which teachers worked with a local museum, and began with teacher training in November and concluded with a pupil performance in June.
Teachers initially undertook two days of training where they explored histories of Huguenot and Irish re-settler migration within their local community. They used the census to create 'real' journeys, stories and incidents made by identifying births, deaths and marriages in streets or houses. During two further training days, teachers investigated the Jewish and East Pakistan (Bangladeshi) stories of migration by researching timelines and journeys on the website http://www.movinghere.org.uk. They also made a visit to London's Brick Lane area, and specifically to 91 Princelet Street. This allowed each teacher to create 'imagined' migration stories made through their own observations.
The teachers and their pupils used this information to inform their own interpretations of events through visual art, dance, drama and/or music. The artworks produced included a collaboratively constructed cage made from willow sticks and life-size doves which carried words associated with dislocation, loss and alienation. Some of the doves were positioned trapped and some were free. Another project involved children working together to make huge metre wide papier-mâché blue plaques. The plaques celebrate unknown trades-people who brought skills and experience to their locality and beyond.
Later, groups of teachers each focussed on the different migrant groups, and used their developing knowledge and understanding to support pupils in researching and creating an artwork and performance to celebrate that group. In the fourth half-term, a range of stories were brought together in collaborative final performances. These involved 350 pupils in a total of twelve performances spread over three nights. A historical drama unfolded as every class retold a 'story', real or imagined. Each night, the four stories performed, became a collective expression of a house and its inhabitants over four specific points in time. Refer to the 'InIt together' pdf for images of pupils' work and performances.
This project can easily be carried out and adapted by other schools across the country, whereby teachers work with local museums and local community groups, and utilise the Moving Here website to explore why people have come to England over the last 200 years. To enable schools to recreate this cross-Key Stage / cross-school project, teachers can access for free, records, migration histories, stories, local and regional museum partnerships and projects and a comprehensive teachers section inclusive of classroom modules, activities and a guide to approaching sensitive issues http://www.movinghere.org.uk/schools/teachers.htm.
Through engaging with the issues of faith, migration and identity, pupils can reflect on their own experiences or those of people around them. Through multidisciplinary art forms, pupils are enabled to develop empathy with all the groups, historical and present, and identify links with their own communities.
Jewish Museum London for an outreach service, publications, an e-learning facility, images and information touring exhibitions http://www.jewishmuseum.org.uk
Museum of London explores the migrations of Huguenot, Irish, Jewish and Bangladeshi communities http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk
East End Talking: Website for Schools and East End Community http://www.eastendtalking.org.uk/
Office for National Statistics (census) http://www.ons.gov.uk/census/index.html
National Archives http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/
Book: Exploring Creative Learning, edited by Catherine McGill, Teri N'Guessan, Marion Rosen, 2007, published by Trentham Books http://www.nsead.org/publications/book.aspx?id=56