SEND Learning at the Charterhouse

Between September 2017 and July 2018 we completed a year-long expressive arts project with the Village School. Working with artist-educator Marc Woodhead and cross-arts educator Luke Crookes, the project gave children with complex needs the opportunity to access high quality and enriching museum experiences. At project ends, the whole class of profound and multiple learning difficulty (PMLD) children successfully received Arts Awards Discover, a recognised qualification.

The project involved two on-site visits, and two sessions art and music sessions in school, the first of these focused on creating Tudor pennants and a class song, and the second acting as a rehearsal for a final celebration performance at the Charterhouse. Our onsite visits were a real highlight of the project. Focusing on our medieval cloister and Tudor Great Chamber, we processed as silent monastic monks, enjoyed a celebratory a Tudor danced and jousted with our Tudor pennants flying high.

Following this in-depth project we worked a range of specialist schools in 2018-19: John Ruskin School (Southwark), Riverside School (Hackney), Waltham Forest 6th Form College (Waltham Forest) , Ickburgh School (Hackney), and Oasis Academy Arena (Croydon). Here’s a brief overview of some of our brilliant sessions:

John Ruskin School

In October and December 2018 we worked with the language disorder unit (lime and purple class) at John Ruskin School. The unit was preparing for their Christmas production of the Jungle Book, so we created a fictitious ‘junglehouse’ full of exotic plants and animals inspired by the Charterhouse. In school we worked with watercolour – a new medium for the pupils – to design unique flower displays and write dramatic speech, and at the Charterhouse we enlivened our spaces with their magical creations and worked on performance, stage craft and song. Emily and I were kindly invited to see their play in school where they played the project film and gave thanks to the Charterhouse.

Riverside School

In January and February 2019 we worked with class 3C at Riverside School, all of whom have profound and multiple learning difficulties and are non-verbal. The project focus was a sensory experience of medieval and Tudor life which we explored via music and art. At school we created musical soundscapes to place the students in the medieval area and made heraldic crowns using metallic pens and markers whilst dressing up in vibrant Tudor costume. At the Charterhouse we made use of the crowns and costumes embodying rich and poor Tudors with striking accessories. We also made colourful artworks with artist Marc inspired by our gold chapel icons.

Oasis Academy Arena, Croydon

In February 2019 we worked with autistic pupils at Oasis Academy Arena. Pupils had been studying A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the teacher wanted our sessions to help the pupils understand the social and political context of Shakespearean times for textual analysis and deeper understanding/enjoyment. In school we came up with a series of songs depicting key emotional states from several Shakespearean texts. At the Charterhouse we created shadow puppets with imagery from our emotional states and enjoyed a lively shadow show performance in cloister chapel, the chapel and the Tudor Great Chamber.  You can enjoy a film of what we got up to here.

The feedback from SEND teachers has been overwhelmingly positive:

Thank you all again for your inspirational ideas and creativity. The children (Lime and Purple) loved the workshop…Thank you for your fantastic video of the children’s work and music. We will definitely use the pieces in our production and in rehearsals.” – Class Teacher, John Ruskin School

“Thank you so much for organising the project my class did with Luke and Marc. It was such a great experience on so many levels – my students responded incredibly positively and were engaged throughout.” – Class Teacher, Riverside School

“Thanks again for today! We made some wonderful memories and gave the students a lovely sensory educational experience. When your film is finished, I would love to share with parents and the school.” – Class Teacher, Oasis Academy Arena

If you would like to know more about our schools programme please contact 

The Charterhouse SEND programme is generously supported by the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers 


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