Our multi-cultural arts day was aimed at Year 7 students and was one of a programme of stop days around global citizenship in our school.

The day involved an experience of the art and music of a different culture. It links with the citizenship scheme of work in which we look at and celebrate diversity. This activity helped to address both the development of citizenship in the whole school development plan and to further embed the awareness of global citizenship within our school community.

Congleton is a small rural Cheshire town that has very little cultural diversity and therefore we felt that it was a particularly enriching experience for our students.

Running the day

The day was run by a group of mainly Asian artists/musicians. They travelled from Birmingham and ran four sessions each during the day. The students were split into groups and they moved from activity to activity. The experiences included workshops on Indian drumming and dance, Mehndi, Indian puppetry and story telling, playing the didgeridoo, pottery, and batik design.

The artists provided all the equipment. They requested specialist rooms where possible, and a member of staff to supervise each group. The students were in groups of approximately 23. Students were told to come in old clothes not school uniform as some of the activities were messy. A letter had been sent to parents prior to the day asking for permission for their child to take part in the mehndi workshop as this involved painting their skin.

The artists were provided with refreshments and lunch. Although for school staff this was a very simple day to organise, the cost was quite expensive – prohibitive for some schools. The Developing Citizenship project provided money towards the cost of hiring the artists.

We carried this out as a stop day with the whole of Year 7 off timetable, which freed staff to supervise the activities. Students became thoroughly engaged with the activities and much discussion and questioning took place about the activities and cultures from which they came.

Curriculum and costs

The day was good example of an enjoyable citizenship activity, however because of the cost it could only be sustainable if staff were able to take some of the ideas and develop them through their subject areas ,e.g. Music have hired musical instruments from the DEC in the past and used them with year 8 and 9 students. Art and Textiles have incorporated a global aspect to their schemes of work. Some of the batik designs made by the students have been made into a display – ‘hands around the world’ that is displayed in the corridor.

The day however provided many curriculum areas with ideas and when we do this again it will be done in house. This will require some staff training and the provision of resources something that we intend to use the rest of the global citizenship project funding to do.

Such days not only enrich the curriculum but also aid student and staff motivation. I believe that the students had an opportunity to work together and experience aspects of a different culture, so increasing their global experience and challenging some of their stereotypes.

Ongoing development

The whole aspect of globalisation is developing within our school with many new links having been established since we opened in September 2000. We have a number of exchange visits, a twinning project being organised with an Indonesian village following the donation of funds after the Tsunami tragedy, a variety of stop days based around global citizenship. Distinct citizenship lessons in which this is clearly addressed, and through a thorough audit of subjects citizenship provision has been mapped.

There have been many thousands of pounds raised by students and staff for global charities e.g. Unicef, Comic Relief and Oxfam etc. We have also attempted to increase awareness by display through out the school. The global citizenship project has helped to fund this.