In 1968, the history of British currency changed forever – and Llantrisant Primary School pupils have been helping to celebrate the moment with a creative project in partnership with The Royal Mint. What can you learn from this for your school? Scroll down to the ‘top tips’ section at the end.
2018 marks 50 years of decimalisation in Britain, the biggest change in our monetary system for centuries, and the opening of a new Royal Mint at Llantrisant.
The first coins at the new Royal Mint were officially struck by The Queen when she opened the first phase of the new site on 17 December 1968.
The Royal Mint approached Llantristant Primary School to help it create a project celebrating the anniversary.
We asked project leader Nicola Prewett, a teacher at the school and head of Key Stage 2 (years 3-6), to describe the project:
“We’ve had links with the Royal Mint before through workshops and school visits, but this has been a whole new experience for us. As a school, we feel privileged to have been part of such an exciting project.”
“We’ve been involved from the outset with the planning, designing and delivery of the creative curriculum in Wales, and as other teachers will know, this covers many subjects: art and design, music, geography, history, literacy and numeracy. This project is a good example of that type of cross-curricular, collaborative approach to learning, and we’ve used a mix of blended teaching strategies alongside immersion activities.
Can you describe the early stages of the project?
“Our pupils were involved in the project right from the planning stage. Collaborative learning and discussion took place across the Key Stage 2 year groups to decide on activities. Pupil voice is a strength of this school. The plans were then written by the department staff and discussed with, and approved by the Royal Mint.
“We then held ‘Immersion Day’, where pupils had a tour of the Royal Mint with the curators. Creative practitioners started working with years 3-4 to discuss the design of the wall plaque.
“Meanwhile, year 5 and 6 pupils researched the history of the Royal Mint, wrote journalistic reports and created a video drama, documenting events and linking them to a timeline of significant dates in the history of the Royal Mint. Pupils also chose a country to research which is linked to the Royal Mint and developed artistic brochures and information booklets.
“They then began to consider their artistic skills, using shade and tone to create sketches to design their own celebratory coin. Music pieces and creative dance pieces got underway and a professional film agency filmed the pupil’s work.”
“Artists in residence at the Royal Mint have been creating a permanent plaque documenting the past 50 years, and pupils in year 3-4 designed an exhibition panel for this, which will be professionally produced and displayed as part of the Royal Mint exhibition in the future.
“Afon Dance have helped with the creative dance elements, and a peripatetic music teacher has come in weekly to help develop the musical aspect.”
How did you showcase the results?
“We held a Showcase at The Royal Mint on Monday 22 October which was a huge success, with many parents and Royal Mint staff attending. There was a huge audience and the pupils performed a creative dance, musical numbers, displayed their work and the older pupils screened the silent movies they’d created in the style of Charlie Chaplin to document the 50 years at Llantrisant.
“The project is almost complete, apart from the graphically designed piece which is being produced for the exhibition, and will be revealed on December the 17th for the actual anniversary exhibition.
“The children have thoroughly enjoyed their activities and benefitted from many cross-curricular experiences. This project is a great example of the pedagogical principles of the new creative curriculum being introduced in Wales.”
Thinking differently about creativity – five top tips for teachers from Nicola:
- Collaborate: Work alongside other teachers and pupils to share ideas and expertise. Brainstorm ideas and add to the list as the discussions evolve. We shared the initial project with the children and the ideas that they came up with were amazing.
- Be confident: Be confident in your own expertise and don’t be afraid to make mistakes as the project evolves. Teach the skills that the children will need to complete the tasks and then allow them to experiment and gain confidence in their own ability and creativity.
- Embrace change: Sometimes the ideas and activities change and become more interesting and worthwhile as the project develops. Don’t be afraid to deviate from the initial plan or idea. It is inevitable that the project will evolve so it is important to be flexible.
- Be creative: We are at the dawn of a new curriculum which will rely on our professional expertise and allow us to have autonomy; it will allow us to prepare them to become independent and inquisitive learners. It is our chance to seize this opportunity and embrace the opportunity to provide creative experiences. There are no limits or boundaries to what we can achieve
- Celebrate: Showcase the achievements; involve the children in the planning and execution of the sharing process. Validating their effort is invaluable and brings the process to a memorable close.