Cambridgeshire Schools Project

Off the Beaten Track

“Performance artist Jan Dungey of Suffolk-based Rural Arts has just completed a series of animated trails projects with five Cambridgeshire schools. Using craft skills and performance as a means of expression, the aim was to encourage students to see their own town in a different light and to communicate their findings to others.

Each school was in a different locality and the ages of the students involved varied quite considerably… but the same principles were applied to all five projects.

In each case, Jan first defined a route, taking account of interesting features and locations often missed by local people… Students decided first on a particular type of character who represented their town to act as a link person along the route. They also considered the type of creature that might inhabit each separate location. They then designed and made appropriate costumes, wrote scripts, and worked with professional dancers and musicians to perfect their performance.

The benefit to the schools concerned is only just beginning to be realised. According to Margaret Haynes of Walton School, the trails project fitted in well with the existing combined humanities course, and she stresses the importance of having an outsider come into school as a means of motivating students and the value of working in locations out of school.

For Connie Wright, design teacher at St Neots, the work was ‘like a breath of fresh air’ . At Ernulf School teachers have started to use the the previously under-used photographic and darkroom facilities.”

Community Education Network Newsletter, March 1986

Supported by Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the Royal Institute of  British Architects, Eastern Arts Association and the architectural practice YRM.