Climate Change Catastrophe! – Jack Gardner

I am a Year 2 teacher and Arts Lead at Hotspur Primary School, an inner-city comprehensive school in Newcastle upon Tyne. The school is nationally recognised for its innovative arts projects and high-quality pastoral care for all pupils.

I am also a trustee for Cap-a-Pie theatre company, having enjoyed their work both as a collaborator and audience member since 2016. Cap-a-Pie create child-led theatre based on academic rigour. They play an important role in Newcastle’s cultural landscape. As a theatre company they are excellent at redistributing power for young people; providing a safe space and platform for children to express themselves. This is particularly evident in their most recent project ‘Climate Change Catastrophe!’

“We use stories to help us understand the world and therefore the best way to create a better future is to first imagine one.”

‘Climate Change Catastrophe!’ saw Cap-a-Pie work with hundreds of children across the North of England as well as scientists and engineers at Newcastle University to create a free six-part online series about climate change. By collaborating with KS2 children, Cap-a-Pie were able to create an emotional narrative that was underpinned by engineering, climate science and academic rigour. We use stories to help us understand the world and therefore the best way to create a better future is to first imagine one. A project like ‘Climate Change Catastrophe!’ transforms the challenges of the environmental changes ahead into something that is playful, inquisitive and investigative for children. Consequently, those involved feel empowered about dealing with a subject that could have been overwhelming and intimidating.

The project was rolled out during the second lockdown in which children were accessing the content either online through the school’s platform or, for a small number of children, in the classroom. Some of the feedback from teachers who delivered the content created by Cap-a-Pie included:

“Cap-a-Pie really went above and beyond with the materials that they provided for the online learning because they gave different options.  So you could either get your kids to watch the video that they’d recorded or you could go through the slides yourself.”
– Christ Church School

“Climate Change Catastrophe project was delivered fantastically under current circumstances. The children were able to engage fully with the videos/tasks delivered as they were clear, effective and enjoyable. This was a brilliant little unit of work to do on climate change. The thing that I took from it was really positive.”
– Hotspur Primary School

“The material in the activities was really age appropriate and they were fun activities. I could see from the amount of work that the kids had done that they were interested in it. For example, designing your own microbe and the diary entry – you could tell they were interested in it.”
– Cragside Primary School

We had high levels of engagement with the project from those who were home learning which is a testimony to Cap-a-Pie’s ability to inspire young people as home-learning engagement was one of the biggest challenges we faced during the second lockdown.

For those taking part, seeing their suggestions made into a series of films gives them confidence in their ideas and actions. For the audience, the end product gives you hope that this mobilising, mega-modern young generation, who are able to orchestrate political activism on previously unimaginable scale within less than 48 hours, may just be able to succeed where previous generations have failed.

As of 12 of May 2021 episodes will be available to watch on Cap-a-Pie’s YouTube channel. Find out more here. Enjoy!

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