Immersive theatre company Punchdrunk has launched a three-year project that aims to help schools take a more creative approach to learning.
The Punchdrunk Learning Collective is a network of 16 schools from deprived areas that will meet three times a year.
They will also work with Punchdrunk practitioners to learn and apply creative teaching techniques and deliver projects with pupils.
Punchdrunk will be teaching the schools to apply what it calls “enrichment practice”, which is an immersive approach to learning that puts students at the heart of telling stories.
Director of enrichment and Punchdrunk Village, Peter Higgin, told The Stage: “A lot of the work we do is theatrical, because we’re a theatre company, but it’s about creating fantastical stories and narratives that come alive in your school, and the key to all of those narratives is that they position learning as [an essential] currency of the project.”
Higgin added that the aim of the project is to equip teachers and schools to become “experts” in immersive learning techniques.
The Punchdrunk Learning Collective is being run in partnership with Angela Colvert, senior lecturer in English education at the University of Roehampton, who will be monitoring the progress of the teachers and the impact of the collective.
At the end of the three years, Punchdrunk aims to produce a publication with findings from the project and to expand the learning collective to a membership model to involve more schools.
Higgin said: “A lot of people ask: ‘Will this raise standards in literacy or make pupils better mathematicians?’, and the answer is that with good support from teachers it will impact that, but what it will do is give teachers and schools the tools to get meaningful engagement from pupils who are motivated and focused.”
He added: “It’s about cultural capital, it’s about aspiration, it’s about opening up imagination and it’s about [the children] seeing what they could be and imagining themselves as more than they currently see themselves as.”
The cost of the whole project is £35,000 a year, which is funded by an annual £1,000 fee from the participating schools and funding from Punchdrunk.