Here's a howdeedo

This week the children and parents from St Philip's Primary school in Leeds will be confronted by Lady Lackleaf, Jack Frost and Old Man Winter who have stolen the song, the music and the dance of the woods from The Wild Man. Helped by Tom Wayfinder who knows if they will save the woods from the clutches of Old Man Winter's gang.

In The Woods

At Middleton St Philip’s Primary Alive And Kicking are pursuing their Leeds Beckett University research focus on exploring the ways in which children and their parents co-construct imaginary worlds. John Mee as Tom Wayfinder from the pen of Martin Riley is recreating the story of his five year quest with the year 2 children … a quest that will end up on May the first in a wood near Keighley
Tom tells us …. For the last five years now I have been on a quest. I have sailed across stormy oceans to lands where icebergs float in the freezing water, where the sea itself turns to ice. I have travelled to the lands where fire and ash and smoke spout volcanoes while red-hot lava flows down their sides. I have been to lush valleys and great lakes where the air is full of the crying of countless birds as they wheel around the wide blue sky.

And all this time I have been looking and listening, smelling and tasting, feeling the life and spirit of the place.I have been looking for somewhere special. You know how it is, somewhere familiar and comfortable, somewhere which feels and smells just right. I have known fire and ice, I have known night and day, I have known air and water, I have known love and I have known loss. And now I need a place to rest my heart, somewhere to call home.
Without the help of the children, their parents and teachers Tom will remain homeless! Here's hoping the wood will be the right place for him but there will be a whole lot of problems for the children to solve first.


A word or two from Martin Riley

“We all know what really matters - the children, the work we do, the quality of the work and the difference it makes to their lives and all our lives. I have seen such a lot of creative energy and enthusiasm from children and teachers and some head teachers (and deputy heads!) also - and, despite the difficulties of the times and of the present culture, I have seen educators battling against the odds to give children at school confidence, kindness and self-belief, through creativity, through a love of story and art, and song and writing and poetry and drama. I have seen children come to a realisation that they have their own story to tell, that they can make a difference in the world.” 

Last week at Adel Primary in Leeds

Reports from last week’s Alive And Kicking adventures at Adel Primary School in Leeds.
"We were thrilled when John and Louise from Alive And Kicking came to Nursery and took us on a magical journey as we acted out 'a sideways look at Cinderella’. 
His Royal Majesty was in such a mood. There hadn't been a royal ball for years and years. And down the road in a crooked old house a kitchen maid had to do all the chores while her two sisters  did nothing. Until one day an invitation arrived ……"
"This week Year 1 took part in a drama morning which took us to 'the bottom of the bottom of the sea!' 
We met lots of characters and were involved in many activities such as, creating a journey map, bringing the map to life, acting in role as villagers, persuasion and also listening to a story told by the 'Queen of the Sea’. 
The children proved themselves to be fantastic in role and thoroughly enjoyed the morning.”

Arts Provision in Primary Schools

During a week in which Year 3 and 4 at Adel Primary School in Leeds have used an Alive And Kicking starter (The Woman At The Top Of The Mountain) to engage with problem solving, narrative building, dealing with dramatic tension, working in role, handling a new art form, organising group work, offering guidance to an adult in role, hearing their teachers debate next steps in developing their planning, designing and building a cairn, and having a right good time, there's the news from Arts Professional “that a meeting of arts education professionals and politicians, hosted by left-leaning think tank the Fabian Society on Tuesday, identified …. A deeply shocking landscape of diminishing arts provision in primary schools.”
This was attributed to structural problems in the education system, including:
·       More curriculum time being dedicated to numeracy and literacy at the expense of creative subjects
·       Inadequate teacher training in the arts leading to poor quality provision
·       Limited availability of arts toolkits to support non-specialist teachers
·       Absence of a music specialist in “most” primaries
·       Lack of commitment to arts activity by school leaders and governors
·       Lack of confidence among teachers who are embarrassed to sing in front of classes
·       Inability of schools to identify and progress talented pupils, which has most impact on opportunities for poorer families
·       Arts being delivered as extra-curricular activities rather than during school hours
·       Ofsted’s failure to adequately define their criteria for ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ arts provision.
The event marked the start of a new research initiative, led by the Society, that will examine access to the arts by primary age children.
At Alive And Kicking we applaud Adel Primary for placing drama in their  development plan and look forward to reading the Fabian Society report.

Next ....

There's a chunk of work coming up. Luke is Brian Clough in Red Ladder's Damned United, Martin is writing and devising material for In The Woods, our Leeds Beckett University's Research Programme, as well as creating a new office space, and John is getting ready to become Tom Wayfinder and Frederick The Eagle Keeper as well as diving to The Bottom Of The Sea and taking a sideways look at Cinderella with Lou. As Mary Oliver says “There is nothing better than work. Work is also play, children know that. Children play earnestly as if it were work ….. I believe art is utterly important. It is one of the things that could save us. We don't have to rely totally on experience if we can do things in our imagination. ... It's the only way in which you can live more lives than your own. You can escape your own time, your own sensibility, your own narrowness of vision.”  

A big big thank you

Alive And Kicking is in the process of reshaping itself and we have brought on board new company members as well as saying goodbye to some established ones. 
We have welcomed back Kathryn Hanke to work on The Museum Of Untold Stories and Anthony Haddon to work on The Cave. We have welcomed Louise Clarke and David Cartwright who are already involved in a range of work including The Woman At The Top Of The Mountain, Traditional Tales and The Cave.
We are sad to say goodbye to Jess Farmer and Bill Hartley who are retiring from the Board Of Trustees, to Phoebe McDonald as she moves into Middle School teaching, and we wish Ammie Flexen all joy as she leaves us to pursue her visual artist work. All four of them have had a huge influence on company development and we offer them our thanks and very best wishes. 

The Woman At The Top Of The Mountain at Swillington Primary

From Samantha Robinson, Year 3 teacher at Swillington Primary ….Thanks for this morning, it was fantastic! An inspiring and intriguing drama session in which all pupils were engaged and enthused. We are very excited for the follow up. I was surprised at how quickly they were able to get into role and to build up ideas from just a few sentences of the drama.

Alive And Kicking mini documentary

Watch this ....

A sunny day at AAK

This sunny Friday finds Luke off to talk to some film makers about how to shoot a mini documentary/promotion film for The Cave. Bear in mind they have to do a large part of the filming in a tent with 30 children, 2 performers and a teacher or two, all without disturbing the enjoyment and participation of the children. Well, they did say they were up for the challenge.