Wilthorpe and the World (2008)


As part of the Creative Partnerships programme, the objective of our work with Wilthorpe Infants School was clear: to see how creative approaches could impact on teaching and learning throughout the school and the curriculum.

We were working with a small school in Barnsley where the desire to use creativity was evident throughout the staff team. There was a real possibility of making a really positive impact during the 4-year term of the project.


There were a whole series of interventions over time in all year groups with a range of artists. A real focus on working with parents and in the community. And a definite desire to pass on the skills and knowledge to the teaching staff.

Image from book designed by Katy Hayley


Supported by Creative Partnerships, this was a partnership between Heads Together and Wilthorpe Infants School.


The money for the project came from the Creative Partnerships programme but, as with all CP work, it was a pot of money that could only be accessed by the school itself. The school (as a CP school) had a budget from Creative Partnerships to run its CP work. It could then decide who to spend it on in terms of delivering the planned programme.

It's a subtle difference but an interesting one in terms of partnership. The school was funded to work with us rather than the partnership being funded. It didn't cause any problems in this case, but ended up as a CP model where schools would tender the work they wanted done. Is that partnership?

Art work with artist Abigail May

What We Learned

The important learning points for us with this project came because we were teamed up with an independent academic researcher: Kate Pahl from the University of Sheffield.

She played two roles: firstly to help us frame the work, give it context and relate it to other work and theories (like Third Space theory). She also helped to embed the learning for ourselves and for the teachers themselves, coming in and asking all kinds of questions made us think things through.

Where Next?

The book was printed digitally and is still available online in digital or paperback versions

The space between artists and teachers is a muddy one, and can be riven with disappointment. In this project the artists asked the teachers to take over the project and run in themselves and this was a risky option. Nevertheless, the projects were successful and the interventions hugely exciting for the teachers to participate in.

Dr Kate Pahl

Department of Education, University of Sheffield