Permission to be Creative

How can more schools establish Artscaping opportunities to support positive wellbeing for children and young people in Cambridgeshire? 

This was the question our Public Health colleagues in the County Council challenged us with earlier this year when they were able to redirect some funds to the programme. Thanks to this support we’ve been able to create free to access resources and also develop an in school INSET training session for staff teams. 

Since September, over 60 teachers have received Artscaper training, either as a twilight session on their school grounds, or in a bespoke day in the woods training. Led by artists Filipa Pereira Stubbs and Susanne Jasilek, the training has invited teachers to discover Artscaping through hands-on experiences in the outdoors. Teachers have responded with excitement to key elements of the practice: slowliness, the outdoors as a studio for creativity; the open-ended nature of the invitations; and the generosity of time and space. Here’s a few of their reflections.

  • I found being outdoors and made to feel free to create really valuable.

  • Being with creative people; feeling free yet a bit scaffolded; listening to the mantra and words and peacefulness

  • The importance of giving children (and adults) time and space; to drop pre-concieved outcomes; to keep outside as a key part of the day.

  • It’s exciting to consider how to creatively use our outside areas and give children the ability to express themselves.

These INSET sessions continue for schools in our network.

There is also a free to access half-an-hour introductory webinar, where the practice of Artscaping is introduced through the voices of children, artists, teachers, headteachers, researchers and colleagues. 

And there are two free to access publications that can be read in conjunction: 

Permission to be Creative

These publications provide both practical advice on getting Artscaping started in a school environment, why this work is important, as well as evidence of the benefits of this practice for staff, children and young people, and the wider community. Both publications draw on research gathered by research colleagues from University College London and ARU, sharing findings from the Eco-capabilities and Branching Out programmes, funded by the UKRI.