University of Leicester calls for young to lead City Classroom partnership’s direction

The University of Leicester is asking young people to lead the way in the next phase of The City Classroom, Leicestershire’s local cultural education partnership.

The initiative brings together schools, organisations, artists and creatives to provide inspiring experiences for young people across the city and county through music, dance, theatre, arts and crafts and more, promoting a joined-up cultural education offer in the region.

The City Classroom first launched in 2017 and has included, amongst others, Attenborough Arts Centre, Charnwood Arts, Curve Theatre, Leicester Print Workshop, Soft Touch Arts and the Spark Arts for Children which has led the partnership to date.

Now the University of Leicester and De Montfort University are joining The City Classroom with the former set to lead the latest phase. It is asking educators, and anyone passionate about providing cultural experiences to join them at a special meeting next week to discuss future ideas for the development of the partnership.

Fran Nicol, the University’s Outreach Officer, said: “The City Classroom has already made a difference by bringing creative and cultural experiences to hundreds of children, many of whom speak English as a second language, have an educational health care plan (EHCP) or receive pupil premium, predominantly in our primary and Special Educational Need (SEN) schools. We want to build on that as much as possible and are keen to spread the net further and include more youngsters in secondaries.

“We aim to provide brand new fun opportunities, allowing young people to grow their confidence, develop their skills and broaden their horizons.

“Ensuring we understand what young people want to immerse themselves in is vital to making the next phase of The City Classroom a success. We hope to enrich their lives through experiences they might not otherwise have so we welcome educators and those working closely with young people, to join us for an informal chat.”

Since 2017, youngsters have taken part in dozens of workshops and events, while educators have also had access to experts and seminars to enhance the delivery of cultural experiences in their settings.

New College, in New Parks, Leicester, is among the schools who have taken part in The City Classroom.

Kate Brown, the college’s Director of Learning for the Arts, said: “Students here had the chance to take part in drama workshops and the school has been supported in the Artsmark application process - we have reaped the rewards. It’s a great way of providing young people with new experiences they might not otherwise have and raising their confidence at the same time, while opening up other doors of opportunity. We would definitely encourage other schools to get involved.”

In 2020, as part of The City Classroom’s Recovery Programme, a school peer mentoring programme took place which saw artists working with teachers and schools to support the immediate challenges faced by Covid – including mental wellbeing of young people, many of whom struggled through home learning and fewer interactions with their peers.

Shirley Novak, Chief Executive Officer for Charnwood Arts, added: “Charnwood Arts works with young people at risk of exclusion – not just from school – and believes the work that The City Classroom offers is vital. For instance, we know that socialising through creativity can alleviate feelings of anxiety and lower stress, and being creative provides an opportunity to develop confidence and self-esteem, address issues that are preventing recovery from poor mental health and anxiety in young people. The City Classroom offers this and more.”

The meeting will take place on Tuesday 28 March in the University’s Sir Bob Burgess Building from 4pm-5.30pm where refreshments will be available. Attendees are asked to register and book their place.

If you are travelling by car you will be able to park in the Freemen's multi-storey car park which is next to the meeting venue at 11 Putney Rd, Leicester LE2 7TF.