Upton Heath C of E has been utilising a school based project called Adrift to enable children to understand the plight of refugees.

The starting point for the project was the play Adrift, which was created by Action Transport Theatre in collaboration with St. Bernard’s RC Primary School in Ellesmere Port. Billed as a ‘refugee fairytale’, Adrift tells the story of two refugee children on a boat as they dream, play and laugh.

Children from St. Bernard’s were co-creators of the play, working with the play’s writer Beverley Hancock-Smith on the script, on technical aspects of the play such as sound and lighting, and providing vocals for the soundtrack. St. Bernard’s is the lead school for Ignite Teaching School Alliance.

Adrift was directed by Nina Hajiyianni from Action Transport Theatre. Nina commented: “There is often a collaborative element to theatre productions but the way we created Adrift with St. Bernard’s was unique. We worked with the pupils from the school in an organic, collaborative way and this ensured Adrift was child centred and authentic.”

Children at Upton Heath C of E were able to watch the play Adrift at their school, with each class/year group then undertaking work appropriate to their age. Year 1 looked at the stories of Beegu and Paddington, creating an ‘airport’ complete with passports and passport control to undertake a trip to Peru. They also invited parents into school to make sock ‘aliens’ based on Beegu, with a Beegu photo booth created for the occasion.

Birch class undertook brainstorming sessions around words such as ‘asylum’ and ‘refugee’, assembling Adrift topic books. Hawthorn class developed refugee animations. Elm class used computers to make word art pictures inspired by Malala. A showcase of the work created by children at Upton Heath C of E will be on display at their Adrift exhibition for parents and carers of pupils at the school on the 27th-28th June 2019.

Dan Riley, year 6 teacher at Upton Heath C of E said: “Each year group has used different texts to teach and further inspire the children, and they have produced some excellent pieces which will be shared at the exhibition. The project has greatly raised awareness of refugees around the world.”

The Adrift project is having a positive impact on schools all around Cheshire. Assistant headteacher of St. Bernard’s RC Primary School Emily Reid said: “After watching the play they co-created with Action Transport Theatre, our pupils looked at a range of books that built on the theme of migration and refugees. We explored the concept of home and the impact of having to move away.”

“Working with Action Transport Theatre has been fantastic and we are so excited that our children have been part of the process. The children have now got a really strong idea of how many people it takes to produce a play. It has been lovely to have this secure environment for children to talk about the issues behind refugees.”

Interim principal of Upton Heath C of E Primary School, Wendy O’Leary-Davies said: “Projects like Adrift help us to create an environment of inclusion, diversity and understanding. We were delighted to get involved with the Adrift project and look forward to continuing our work with Ignite TSA to create even more exciting opportunities for our children.”

The play Adrift is touring schools and venues in spring 2020.