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Drawing on the learning of our ground breaking pilot programme ‘Unlocking the world through art’ funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation – The SENsory Atelier builds on proven approaches to education for and with young people with special educational needs and disabilities. Through this new four year programme, Attenborough Arts Centre will expand it’s collaborative approach with key partner schools Ashmount School and Ellesmere College, and experienced ‘Atelieristas’ – artists with a key understanding of making space for young people with SEND to explore and develop.

The programme is inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to early years education, featuring joint practice development approaches to develop the skills and experience of seven new partner schools: Ash Field Acadmey, Children’s Hospital School Leicester, Millgate School, Keyham Lodge School, Nether Hall School, Oaklands School and West Gate School; alongside experienced and emerging Atelieristas.

Made possible by generous funding and partnership support from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation: Arts Based Learning More and Better Fund, Attenborough Arts Centre and its partners will develop a programme tailored to the needs of each school, to celebrate the unique and creative abilities of their students.

This project aligns directly with the visions and aims of The University of Leicester and Attenborough Arts Centre. This gives us the capacity to create a dynamic enrichment programme with special educational need schools, with the potential to share learning and good practice with all schools.

Attenborough Arts will create ‘Sensory Ateliers’ – new spaces and processes for children with a spectrum of learning difficulties, additional needs,

communication disorders and disabilities attending SEN schools in Leicester/shire. Children will co-create work with professional artists; teachers will learn new skills and cultural expertise; and children will flourish as young artists.

We will be drawing on the principles of Reggio Emilia to explore ways to cultivate imagination and the children’s sense of the possible. It’s a collaborative journey, where children and adults are working alongside each other with a child-led approach and a co-construction model of delivery and development. Together we want to create our own teaching and learning pedagogy that is relevant to us all.

“Experiences of curious investigation, belly laughter, triumphant achievement, heartfelt tears, satisfying discovery and full bodied engagement with the smells, textures and messes of the world”.

Ann Pelo, The Language of Art. 2007