Culture Voucher case study: Caroline Haslett Primary School

During March 2019, pupils from Caroline Haslett Primary School in Milton Keynes participated in a two-day Indian dance workshop with Pagrav Dance, thanks to Culture Vouchers supported by Arts Gateway MK.

What are Culture Vouchers?

Culture Vouchers work as a closed currency, awarded to schools to spend on the delivery of creative workshops with their pupils, made possible by our funders, in this case, Arts Gateway MK. Once allocated to a school, they can be exchanged with any Provider listed on The Culture Challenge Directory when booking a workshop.

Culture Vouchers enabled 30 pupils from Year 2 to work with Urja from Pagrav Dance to explore classical Indian dance. To begin exploring different movements, pupils began making animal shapes using wrists, hands and fingers to create gestures before moving on to learn the steps to a piece called The Tiger Child Dance.

Caroline Haslett School and Pagrav Dance

Pupils commented they were apprehensive and scared trying out this new activity for the first time but it was clear that as they persevered, their confidence grew and they really enjoyed themselves. Some pupils commented that although it was tricky to remember all the movements, they their confidence had grown and they were relaxed and happy during the routine. Learning to overcome nerves and performing anyway taught the children resilience when facing a new challenge. One pupils commented, “I had a wonderful time dancing with Urja and I didn’t give up.”

Caroline Haslett School and Pagrav Dance

Teacher Tara Sheldon was quick to recognise that her class “found it tricky to begin with, but by the second morning grew in confidence and really enjoyed it.” It was great to see the class grow in confidence on the second day – “I had a few girls who got a little upset and frustrated on the Thursday. By the Friday however, they really got the hang of it.” Tara commented that “It was particularly lovely to see some of the boys really expressing themselves through dance.”

Caroline Haslett School and Pagrav Dance

At Culture Challenge HQ, we were treated to a few pieces of creative writing where pupils recounted their experience, reflecting on the activities and their feelings when taking part. The Tiger Child Dance was also performed in the class assembly, showing how the activity has legacy beyond the workshop itself, something we strive for when granting a school culture vouchers.

Teacher Tara Sheldon wasn’t aware of the Culture Challenge online directory before the culture voucher scheme, and will be using it in future to find different providers in different topics

It is clear to see that this dance activity was teaching the children far more than simply learning the steps in a new routine. Trying out a new creative activity allowed pupils to explore their own emotions, try out new experiences and work through their feelings when faced with a challenge.