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MK Gallery announces artist and schools for new outdoor learning programme

Date Posted:19/01/2016

MK GalleryMK Gallery’s Learning Team has announced the artist and MK primary schools chosen to participate in The Green Town Group, the gallery’s pilot programme of artist-led activity designed to test new approaches to outdoor learning taking place over the next six months, supported by The Ernest Cook Trust.

Heading up the exciting initiative will be artist James Aldridge, a Wiltshire-based visual artist whose practice combines sensory interaction - such as walking, collecting and making - with research into ecology and history.  Selected by MK Gallery from an open call for artists, James has experience of heritage, arts and environmental organisations, and has worked with people ranging from pre-school children through to doctoral students.

From an open call advertising the outdoor learning opportunity to all MK primary schools MK Gallery has selected the following four schools to participate in the project:

St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Primary School, Bletchley; Holne Chase Primary School, Bletchley; Brooklands Farm Primary School and Pepper Hill School in Bradville.

The Green Town Group will involve around 130 Key Stage 1 pupils from across the four chosen schools to each take part in three outdoor learning sessions in MK Parks Trust sites between January and July this year.  Intended to enable schools to develop skills in outdoor learning in relation to contemporary arts practice, the sessions will also inspire and support teachers with cross-curricular links.

Each school’s participation in the project will culminate in a whole school celebration, involving hundreds more pupils. All children taking part in the programme will also have the chance to achieve their Arts Award Discover certificate, a scheme accredited by Trinity College London.
Commenting on his appointment James Aldridge said:  “I’m excited to be working with
MK Gallery this year, using my practice to help bring the outdoors alive for local people.
I’m looking forward to exploring the green spaces of Milton Keynes with school children and families, digging into its past together and examining its role as a home for wildlife as well as people.”

Ian Fraser, Assistant Head Teacher at Holne Chase Primary School said: "We are really looking forward to taking part in the project, especially for how it will help our children to appreciate seasonal changes in the natural environment around them, and for the skills that they will learn from an artist.  This will be a springboard for more outdoor learning opportunities throughout Holne Chase, both this year and in the future."  

Bethany Mitchell, MK Gallery’s Childhood Learning Coordinator added:  “We are delighted with
our chosen artist and schools. As lead artist, James will devise creative activities that will touch on many areas of the national curriculum and allow resultant learning to be fed back into the classroom.  And at the end of The Green Town Group project we’ll use what we’ve learnt with pupils and teachers to help shape MK Gallery’s future learning programme.”