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Back to school

Updated: Jan 24, 2021

I think I could get used to my celebrity status. People waving and calling out my name wherever I go, constantly being fussed over, repeatedly being asked if there's anything that I need...

No, I'm not dreaming, I'm just over half way through my time with the children and staff at Saxon Way Primary School. Over the past couple of days 300 children aged 5-11 have joined me to screen print their own t-shirts for this year's Griffin Arts Festival (GAF) and judging by the response they've really enjoyed it.

As a Griffin Trust school, every summer, two glorious weeks are dedicated to art and it's become a bit of a tradition that all the children print their own t-shirts to wear during the festival's finale when friends and family are invited to the closing showcase event to see all that the children have created.

A couple of weeks before the printing extravaganza I met up with Raydene Dunne, Early Years Team Leader, to find out more about GAF. The theme for this year's festival is 'Protest: Our voices in the world'. The children were particularly keen to raise the issue of plastic pollution, especially in our oceans and so I was looking forward to seeing how their designs would reflect this.

Raydene explained that although the festival takes place over 2 weeks she is keen to make art an important and everyday celebration within school life. The children are reminded of this daily since each class is named after an artist and the first term was spent exploring their work and creativity.

I left Raydene with some homework (finally getting my own back on those pesky teachers), sample t-shirts and stencil templates that would help explain to the pupils what they needed to do before my arrival.

So on a perfect summer's morning in June I was shown into the main hall of Saxon Way Primary school to set up the print station. Breakfast club was just finishing and lots of eager eyes were on me. All the children had been involved in designing their t-shirts and were excited to come over and see how it was done. With the first few workshops under my belt it was clear that the staff and pupils had done their homework. Each class entered the main hall armed with their t-shirts and stencils. With colours chosen and squeegees at the ready the children got down to the business of printing their own t-shirts.

As school was dismissed for the day the Caretaker and an army of teachers arrived in the main hall. I had prepared a number of screens with the GAF logo and we now had the task of printing onto the backs of the t-shirts. We quickly got a conveyer type scenario going - myself and another teacher printing, two teachers bringing the t-shirts to us, two taking them away, a number of teachers and the Caretaker hanging them up under the watchful eye of Raydene. It never fails to amaze me how teachers can, within seconds, analyse a situation, work out a plan, explain the process and then work as a team to get the job done. I am in awe of these ladies and gentlemen.

So with the t-shirts printed front and back, they were hung up, stretching the length and breadth of the main hall like oversized bunting. It looked amazing! Such a fantastic achievement by staff and pupils - 300 t-shirts, designed and printed in just two days. Packing up my kit and waving goodbye I'm reminded how grateful I am to have been included in such a special part of the children's festival.

You can see more photos of me and the children on Saxon Way School's Twitter page.

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