Two Villages (2005)

Purpose

The starting point for this project came from our partners: The Education Action Zone in Conisbrough and Denaby. All the schools in the area had started meeting together, but they wanted to find a way to work together, to forge their own identity as part of the communities identity.

That was a big ask, as Conisbrough and Denaby Main were still struggling to find an identity after the pit closures of the 80s.

Details

We placed artists in all of the schools in the area, tasked specifically with finding projects that linked school and community. The materials they created over the next four seasons were laid out in a school hall one day and we waded through masses of beautiful material and tried to edit it down into the most gorgeous book we could make.

Learning photography at Conisbrough Castle. Photograph Richard Hanson

Partners

Our main partners were the schools and the Education Action Zone itself. But we wanted to share the ownership within the community itself so it was important to set up a steering group for the project that reflected that.

Funding

Some funding came directly from the Education Action Zones fund, but we managed to keep our commitment to ensuring third party funding with money secured from the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund.

For the kids round here the pits shut a million years ago, and looking back is just that: looking back. On its own it doesn't serve any real purpose unless you tie it to looking forward, and that's what this book is about.

Ian McMillan

Poet and Broadcaster

What We Learned

Sharing ownership with the schools' communities was a key objective in the work; creating that 'Third Space' environment between school and home that encouraged participation in learning from families as well as pupils. 

But some of the schools weren't happy in making that transition. They didn't trust their communities, sometimes even feeling that they were doing their job in spite of the communities they were part of.

In the end, if you don't have a shared belief, the work will fail. In some schools...it did! For others, the project was a liberation...

Where Next?

There was a saying in Heads Together at the time: 'You're only as good as your partners'. We owed it to ourselves to choose carefully...

From the end of the book. Design by Andy Edwards