‘Within One Mile’ was an innovative literacy project collaboration in 2014 between Medway Teaching School Alliance, New Horizons Teaching School Alliance and Royal Opera House Bridge. Five Medway-based artists were each paired with a school, and worked with groups of year 5, 6 and 7 pupils to explore the impact of creative activities on young people’s reading and writing skills.
We began by exploring local streets and open spaces up to one mile from each of the participating Medway schools. Pupils were encouraged to come up with creative responses and through the project, channel them into improved writing levels. My project involved imagining the secret life of the ordinary things and places we investigated. Notebooks were filled with ideas and sketches by the pupils and the seeds of stories were shared in a session back at the school.
The group’s teacher then gave the group time and encouragement to develop the stories, and I returned for a second and third day to lead creative activities. I took drawings from their notebooks and we made vinyl stickers from them. The pupils created large collaborative curtains of illustrations with the vinyls, and we used stickers to make stencils for screen printing.
The pupils screen printed their designs onto paper and we used these to cover the notebooks used in the project for research and the stories. The school was pleased with the outcome of the project, with all the participants extending their literacy skills as a result of taking part in it. There was an exhibition of the work in the Historic Dockyard, attended by all the schools, pupils and artists on the project.