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Innovative new art project helping children get ready for school

03 December 2021

Young children playing.

An arts project supported and funded by Rochdale Borough Council, Ragdoll Foundation and The National Lottery Community Fund has created a new resource to get 2-4 year-olds ready for school.

The Little Artists project worked with 16 children from 15 refugee, asylum seeking and Gypsy, Roma and traveller families, as well as cared for children and their carers to develop a new activity programme.

The project is part of Rochdale Borough Council's commitment to help get more children prepared for school by increasing their confidence and wellbeing and tackling inequalities. It gets children comfortable in an informal learning environment through engaging activities.

Cartwheel Arts used a variety of art practices and worked with experienced art practitioners who provided visual arts, music, forestry and theatre. The activities cover signing, counting, group play, making, adventure, story-telling, painting and engaging with nature.

Councillor Rachel Massey.

'We're passionate and committed about getting young children school ready to help boost their outcomes and this project is testament to the hard work and creativity we're putting into this'

Councillor Rachel Massey, cabinet member for children's services and education at Rochdale Borough Council, said: "Little Artists has provided families with a supportive environment to socialise and learn while having fun. All of the families have been overwhelmed by this dedicated project to support them; they have been part of a team and they are very proud of the legacy which they have helped create. We're passionate and committed about getting young children school ready to help boost their outcomes and this project is testament to the hard work and creativity we're putting into this."

Parents said theirs and their children's wellbeing increased throughout the project. They also reported that confidence had increased, wellbeing had improved and new skills had been learnt, for them and their children.

A total of 150 packs containing paints, paper, glue, tape, chalks and other materials are being given out to families so that they can take part in activities at home and Cartwheel Arts are running more monthly sessions for 2–4 year-olds and their parents or carers.

A smiling young girl.

'We had many unexpected outcomes too due to the dedicated support from council staff'

Becky Smyllie, project coordinator for Cartwheel Arts, said: "This project has been magical. The feedback from parents has been so positive. We had many unexpected outcomes too due to the dedicated support from council staff who sorted issues arising outside of the sessions. Working with these families has been an absolute pleasure and I can't wait to meet more Little Artists in sessions to come."

Parents and carers across the borough can now download the pack for free use at home on the Arts for a Reason website.

The team will also be at Gaia at Number One Riverside, Smith Street, Rochdale OL16 1XU, on 9 December 2021 from 10am–11.30am for parent/carers of 2–4 year-olds. Find Number One Riverside on Google Maps