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Residential centres provide culture and arts to children

Staff based at Sandwell Council’s residential education centres have developed fun, creative and adventurous activities for families to enjoy whilst schools are closed to most children due to the coronavirus.

Education staff at Ingestre Hall near Stafford, Edgmond Hall in Shropshire, Plas Gwynant in Wales and the Frank Chapman Centre in Worcestershire have worked to help youngsters through the crisis.

Councillor Joyce Underhill, cabinet member for best start in life, said:

“We are immensely proud of our residential centres and the dedicated teams who provide fantastic outdoor adventures and creative arts experiences for our young people and families.

“The many thousands of children who have visited the centres down the decades not only get expert tuition away from their school desks but they enjoy getting away and enjoying the countryside.

“I was very pleased to hear of the excellent work by the dedicated staff in providing interesting, thought-provoking and educational projects, with some fun and entertainment in the mixture.

“They will have inspired youngsters during this dreadful crisis and I’m sure families and schools in the borough will be looking forward to returning to the centres as soon as possible.

The staff from historic Ingestre Hall Residential Arts Centre near Stafford, have used their creative abilities to the full, including the wonderfully entertaining “Man Who Knows Everything” posing challenges to children to find out key facts about specific topics.

Youngsters can listen and read along live to classic children’s stories such as “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” and “Five children and “it read by senior tutor and drama professional Richard Poynton.

Arts and Crafts has the fantastic weekly ‘Get Creative, Stay Creative’ packs developed by artist Heather Higgins which are bursting ,with ideas and simple steps to help children and families be creative at home. From crazy portraits and collages, to toilet roll owls and painting with coffee, they all use simple household items - no specialist equipment required!

“Ingestre’s partner Newave Arts has ideas for budding musicians with tutorials for children to learn how to play their favourite songs on guitar. Ukulele lessons for beginners and have given tips on using music production software.

The outdoor centres have also been creative during the crisis, developing “Outdoors Indoors” activities to keep children connected with nature and adventure.

From Plas Gwynant Outdoor Education Centre in Wales comes cooking with fire, 25 home challenges, wilderness at home, spring-inspired weaving and building a time capsule. The team also set challengers to complete at home, building bug houses and even weaving with natural materials.

Inspired by their Wyre Forest setting, Matt and Jo from the Frank Chapman Centre team post new ideas every Wednesday to the centre's Facebook page and show children how to make all kinds of things from Pom Pom animals to bird feeders and how to play bird bingo at home.

And Edgmond Hall in Shropshire gives advice on gardening, making origami butterflies, and creative ways to exercise. The staff there are inspiring people to 'Get Growing' in the garden, to try origami and set weekly challenges including “Climb the Wrekin”- in stairs.

Where possible these activities have been printed off along with other Sandwell Council Education Directorate resources and sent to children and families unable to access them online.

The centres have also developed a provisional range of activities to support schools in their recovery, subject to health and social distancing considerations.

Service Manager Richard Oakes said:

“It is heartening that so many headteachers are planning visits for later this year and next.

“There is a rebound determination and it is clear that children will need outdoor, creative and residential learning experiences more than ever. It is unclear at present how residential visits will restart when schools fully reopen so we are planning for outreach work, day visits and smaller group sizes.

“We are also speaking with schools about children or families that would especially benefit from additional support around wellbeing, re-engagement, social interaction and transition which may be significant challenges for some.

“We’ll follow all health advice and be as flexible as possible following this unprecedented event.”

All the content is at There are daily and weekly ideas on Facebook pages - @frankchapmancentre and @ingestrearts.

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