Empowering children through art at The Brook Special Primary School
Maria Preftitsi (MBA, MA, PgCert, BA.), the Expressive Arts Lead at The Brook Special Primary School on Broadwater Farm, recently oversaw an inspiring movie production project involving pupils from The Brook, West Lea Special Primary School in Enfield, and even international schools. Join us as we explore her role as an inclusive arts teacher and the remarkable achievements of the pupils in this project!
Interview with Maria
Can you tell us about your experience at The Brook and your role in positively using art to impact children with SEND?
Over the last 12 years at The Brook, I started as a class teacher, using innovative methods like music and movement to deliver the curriculum for children with SEND. Later, I became the Expressive Arts Lead, coordinating music, drama, and performance. It was amazing to witness children flourishing and expressing themselves while learning essential subjects such as communication, technology, literacy, modern foreign languages, geography, and understanding the world. Creativity and teamwork helped them build confidence and self-esteem.
Can you share examples of implementing inclusion into your projects with pupils?
I've created various projects focusing on creativity, collaborating with schools worldwide to produce movies, songs, performances, and artworks centred around sustainability and global warming awareness. Additionally, I initiated a music technology department at the school, fostering an inclusive environment where SEND and mainstream pupils could learn and work together. They collaborated on composing soundtracks, script ideas, and costumes.
Can you tell us about the most recent movie production project and its impact on the pupils?
Certainly! In our last production, "The Message in the Bottle," 45 pupils from The Brook and West Lea SEND primary schools participated as actors, with over 50 pupils working behind the scenes. They researched cultures and history, created costumes, wrote scripts, composed soundtracks using folk instruments, and handled recording and filming devices. Each pupil made choices and contributed according to their talents and preferences. The experience left a lasting positive impact on their confidence, skills, and friendships!
What inspired you to create this movie production concept for children with SEND?
About a decade ago, I wanted to provide a "safe" environment for autistic children to express themselves in music and drama without facing potential anxiety or meltdowns due to noisy surroundings, an audience, and a change of routines. Additionally, this concept allowed children who couldn't participate in front of the camera to explore other creative areas such as script writing, sound effects, composing, recording, singing, costumes, and tech. Watching themselves perform and enjoying the movie with peers and family boosted their confidence and self-esteem.
Can you tell us about your collaboration with schools abroad?
Collaborations with schools abroad were more challenging due to distance. They filmed their parts on green screens in their schools while I provided clear instructions and tips remotely. Then, I shared these videos via email, and we edited them together remotely. Though complex, these partnerships allowed our pupils to connect with others from different cultures and learn from each other.
As you move on to Galliard School in Enfield, how do you plan to continue your work and promote inclusion?
Although I will not be working at The Brook anymore since I will be the new Music Leader at Galliard School, a mainstream school in Enfield, I plan to establish a strong inclusion environment at Galliard, where all students can work and flourish together in an innovative and creative setting. I will also continue the international and national partnerships with schools in Enfield, Haringey, and worldwide by sharing good practices and establishing high-quality education.
Images of pupils at work
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