Primary Parliamentarians this term have been thinking about 'Urban Design', and especially how people in our city can design and build spaces that are child-friendly, sustainable and inviting places to be.
On Tuesday we sheltered from the rain by doing short workshops led by BDP (architects for Broad Marsh), Bulwell Forest Garden and Skate Nottingham - developing technical skills and coming up with ideas for welcoming spaces.
On Wednesday we were able to get outside and visit the Broad Marsh site and the Sussex Street Skate Spot and urban garden, to visualise how spaces in the city can be reinvigorated.
On Thursday pupils from special schools listened to advice from BDP and Bulwell Forest Garden before coming up with their own ideas for developing spaces in their neighbourhoods.
Finally pupils presented their ideas back to each other and to the Sheriff of Nottingham and Councillor Barnard. Well done to pupils from all 28 schools - a great start to the year!
Primary Parliament is a termly opportunity for pupil representatives from primary schools across Nottingham City to come together and have their voices heard. A partnership project between Ignite! and Nottingham City Council, Primary Parliament takes places over two days each term, with schools invited to bring four KS2 pupils to Nottingham Council House. Since 2020, Primary Parliament has also included an online bespoke morning for children attending special schools.
Each term pupils take on a different theme: Autumn is 'Learning and Earning', Spring is 'Safe, Positive & Smart Communities' and Summer is 'Healthy, Creative You'. Running since 2015, Primary Parliament has engaged thousands of children and regularly engages 26 primary schools per term.
Please register your school via the form here.
For the 2023/24 Academic Year, there will continue to be no charge to schools participating in Primary Parliament. This is due to funding from ChalleNGe and Nottingham City Council Child Friendly Cities. Schools, however there may need to be charge to participate from the 2024/25 Academic Year. We will do all we can to keep these costs as low as possible.
Learning & Earning - Outdoor Learning
Tues 26 & Wed 27 Sept 2023 at the Council House
Thurs 28 Sept 2023 Online
Safe, Positive & Smart Communities
Tues 26 & Wed 27 March 2024 at the Council House Thurs 28 March 2024 Online
Healthy & Creative You
Tues 25 & Wed 26 June 2024 at the Council House Thurs 27 2024 Online
In anticipation of Nottingham’s new central library opening its doors to the public in late 2023, organisations across Nottingham have been working to deliver a range of activities for 'Year of Stories' - to celebrate the people of Nottingham, their stories, and how they tell them. This made storytelling a hot topic for the summer term’s Primary Parliament, where pupil representatives from different primary schools across Nottingham City came together to develop storytelling skills and share their own real and imaginary stories.
The day kicked off with Jon Rea, from Nottingham City Council, putting us all on the spot to share a ten second story, ranging from volunteers sharing their sunburn disasters, to schools telling us about their year six ongoing Shrek production. All in all, from the get-go the pupils were instilled with the knowledge that anything and everything can be a story. This idea was developed with an inspirational speech from Darren Simpson, the local author who wrote Scavengers, who highlighted that everyone’s stories count, and that even mundane experiences like going to the recycling centre can become fantastic stories. We also got to hear first-hand why pupils enjoy creative writing - answers included, ‘I do it for entertainment’, ‘improve my handwriting’, and it’s a ‘fun way to express yourself.’ The schools were then split into three groups to attend their various workshops.
Workshop one was named ‘World Building’ and led by Darren Simpson. This workshop highlighted the importance of mapping out a setting, with Darren likening the job to becoming a God that can create anything. For this setting pupils were asked to build a setting for the future of Nottingham. Pupils were given free reign of this future, it could be mystical, realistic or dark, it could be the near future, or the far away future - the world really was their oyster! One great example of where the pupils' creative minds took them was that Nottingham had been hit by a meteorite that split the city into two halves; one half was creepy and dystopian, and the other half was invested into the wonders of high tech. The workshop helped the children to begin thinking of how they can use familiar places like the Victoria Centre, or Town Hall as stepping stones to creating their own worlds.
The next 30 minutes was then spent in a workshop centred around oral storytelling, this was led by spoken word poet Jay Sandhu and Rachel Feneley from Lakeside Arts. To begin the workshop, we played the word association game where one person had to say a word and your partner has to say a word that links to it. The children became like dictionaries, as they began to catch each other out with some advanced words. Rachel then asked the pupils in groups to come up with a character, a time period, an incident, a setting, and a resolution, once this had all been decided Jay told the pupils that they were to tell the story linking these subjects through poetry. Jay promoted motivation, freedom and creativity in the room by highlighting that ‘poetry is the best words in the best order’, and the words and orders were all to be chosen by them, the artists. The workshop allowed for the development of a range of stories from ‘Charlotte the egg being saved from the frying pan’, to Lien Legweak reuniting with his evil brother, Neil Armstrong. We got to see the children explore with various poem styles, some wrote acrostic poems, others delved into writing ballads, and many perfectly executed using couplets. But their skill development didn’t stop there, Jay also taught the children how important presenting their poem is, i.e pronouncing words differently to provide rhythm to the poem or pausing in the correct places to add emphasis to a particular idea or word.
For the final workshops of the morning, pupils were taken on a culture/history walk around Nottingham’s Council House to master the skill of visual storytelling. To begin with we looked at a painting that allowed children to use their imagination to create the story - set at the market, where they’re selling things, and arguing over a price, highlighting that the creation of stories can sometimes be down to individual interpretations. Jon then asked the children to look at the artefacts in the cabinets around the Council House and try to come up with a story from what they could see. The statue of Ghandi, is a great example of how the children took to the task, as this statue created three stories. The first story came to life through a girl using her historical knowledge to inform the class of Ghandi’s life, and his struggles. The second story was created through a boy using his imagination to tell the story that this statue was of a scientist who planned to destroy the world, but superman stopped him. The third story was told by Jon, who spoke about Ghandi’s visit to Nottingham to see his nephew, who was studying at the University of Nottingham, in 1931. This task highlighted how important our visual surroundings are to creating stories, and they can be used as inspiration to connect our historical knowledge, or our imagination, to tell a captivating story.
Throughout the lunch break children had the opportunity to have vox pop style audios recorded of their kindness stories. These recordings will then be developed into QR codes that will be presented on the ‘Kindness Quilt’, alongside other images. This is a project created for RSE Day, and ChalleNGe is working with textile artist Rebekah Johnston, and Nottingham’s RSE day lead, Catherine Kirk, to create this quilt. This quilt will tour local libraries and be on display at Newstead Abbey during Autumn half term, an amazing way to combine the years' themes of ‘Launch into Kindness’, and the Year of Stories in Nottingham.
After lunch, the pupils were tasked to combine all the skills they had learnt from their workshops, and get their creative juices flowing to tell a story about kindness. Pupils worked together, with at least two different schools grouping together, to tell their message of kindness through the wonders of storytelling. Despite only 45 minutes to prepare, the pupils put on award worthy presentations. With pupils using the means of poetry, and theatrics, and through experimentation with various props we got to enter some fantastic worlds; one was experiencing a cheese apocalypse, another took us on a journey with ‘The Kind Scientist’, whilst another broadcasted ‘Nottingham News’ to tell us why we should never litter. Alongside the laughter and enjoyment, it was evident to see the creative skills and knowledge grow throughout the day. And the performances created, rehearsed, and performed all in 45 minutes demonstrated how the children could excel in storytelling if they continued to nurture their skills. We look forward to seeing the children of Nottingham City incorporate these skills and become masters of storytelling!
Written by Olivia Gough, Liberal Arts BA University of Nottingham, Creative Placement with ChalleNGe Nottingham and Lakeside Arts, July 2023