In these case studies you'll find interviews, footage of workshops in progress and performance and exhibition outcomes. You'll gain insight into the experiences of teachers, artists, students and school principals involved in collaborative arts and education partnerships.

Read the full profiles of these projects

The Perfect Moment - The Women's Circus and Elmore Primary School

Partners: The Women's Circus and Elmore Primary School
Participants: Primary, whole school: 30 students
Artistic Discipline: Circus
Curriculum Focus: The Arts, History, The Humanities, Mathematics, Science, English, Thinking Processes, Personal Learning, Civics and Citizenship, Interpersonal Development, Communication, Design, Creativity and Technology, Information and Communications Technology.

With this multi-disciplinary arts project Elmore Primary School wanted to forge closer connections with its community, and raise morale after a tough couple of years of drought and flood. The teachers were also interested in helping students develop resilience and independence, embrace transformation and change, and expand their ideas of integrity, creativity and their own personal best. At the same time The Women's Circus was hoping to develop the work of its lead artist, Jens Altheimer, which crosses the boundaries of science/physics and sits somewhere between "art" and "innovation", whilst also collaborating with other Women's Circus artists.

The project involved performance and the development of theatrical skills from scratch, group–based circus skills and understanding and designing  kinetic installation practices. These installations were chain-reaction like contraptions built from everyday objects by the students. The work enabled the children to explore science and engineering in a playful and quirky way, investigating concepts such as gravity, inclined planes, levers, counterweight, force, effort and the storing of energy. The project engaged with the local community across generations and supported the whole school community to investigate the way our lives are constant moments of movement between perfect moments of balance.

Review the film clips and other resources from this project to find out how to:

  • Find an artistic concept or "Big Idea" for you project, which aligns with the current interests and explorations of both the arts organisation and the school partners. Watch various practitioners talk about the Big Ideas that could be concepts, themes, problems, challenges, paradoxes, assumptions or perspectives.
  • Involve students in meaningful maths and science learning activities in an arts project
  • Engage students in kinaesthetic learning

The Perfect Moment - The Artistic Concept was funded through the Extended Schools Residencies program.

The House of Dreaming - Arena Theatre Company and Diggers Rest Primary

Partners: Arena Theatre Company and Diggers Rest Primary School
Participants: Primary, Prep - Year 2: 40 core students & Years 3 - 6: 60 students
Artistic Discipline: Multi-arts (theatre, sound, film, installation, literature)
Curriculum Focus: Literacy (in particular oral literacy), The Arts, Information and Communications Technology (ICT), Personal Learning
Funded Through: Extended School Residencies program

What the teachers of Diggers Rest Primary School wanted from an arts project was exposure to new experiences and perspectives for their students to improve oral literacy. Arena Theatre Company was looking for a way to involve young people in the creation of a new work - an interactive installation for children.

The House of Dreaming project became an immersive creative development inspired by imagery, sounds and stories of the dreams of the Diggers Rest children.

Over the duration of the project, the children learned about houses and house design, played theatre games, lay on the floor and listened to atmospheric music and then talked about the pictures it made in their minds. They imagined what would populate a 'dream house' and then drew their designs in real scale on the school quadrangle. The children's stories were gathered, shaped and provided the content for a walk-through House of Dreaming prototype installed in the school. Arena has built on that prototype to create a professionally mounted House of Dreaming performance which will tour throughout Australia.

Review the film clips and other resources from this project to find out how to:

  • Use a collaborative school partnership to enrich your arts company's program. Arena Theatre Company saw this project as essential to making high quality work with and for their target audience of young people.
  • Make technology meaningful. The artists worked with the students to test and create content for interactive elements such as radio tagged objects and movement responsive robots.
  • Get results in literacy. House of Dreaming provided rich material for students to speak and write about. The teachers noted increased vocabulary and a willingness by students to extend their language use, both during and after the project.
Once There Were Three Giants… - Jenny Ellis and Ringwood Heights Primary

Partners: Puppet maker and performer, Jenny Ellis and Ringwood Heights Primary School
Participants: Primary, Years 5 and 6: 75 students (involved other students across the school)
Artistic Discipline: Puppetry, theatre
Curriculum Focus: English, The Arts, Design Creativity and Technology, Interpersonal Development, Thinking Processes
Funded Through: Artists in Schools program

What do a giant octopus, a grumpy uncle, a caterpillar and a fly have in common? They are all giant puppets created by the students of Ringwood Heights Primary School. Brought to life, these puppets tell a story about overcoming fears, persisting in the face of obstacles and helping one another to fulfil dreams.

Ringwood Heights Primary School was inspired to bring puppeteer and theatre maker, Jenny Ellis on board as a facilitator and collaborator with the students and teachers to explore a story within a story: first, a tale about the personal qualities that help you succeed in life (Habits of Mind) and second, holding a mirror up to their own creation to ask "What makes a performance a performance?"

The teachers were keen to make the leap from 'content' based projects at the school to focusing on 'process understandings'. Through this project, everyone involved has expanded their definitions of thinking, creativity, leadership and action.

The atmosphere at the school is electric. The whole school is staging a momentous event, a huge outdoor performance, written, designed, made and performed entirely by the students.
-Randall, Principal, Ringwood Heights Primary School

Review the film clips and other resources from this project to find out how to:

  • Design a whole school of integrated inquiry. The school has embedded the project concept as an inquiry-based unit that has seen students work as co-creators and drivers of the project.
  • Base a project in Student Wellbeing and Interpersonal Development. Rather than focusing on subject content, this project really looked at developing the toolkit each student brings with them to learning and life.
  • Coordinate a large scale project in your school. The coordinating teacher developed significant tools and communication techniques to keep everyone on board, steering this large and complex project in the intended direction.
The Big Draw At Ardeer South - ArtPlay and Ardeer South Primary

Partners: ArtPlay and Ardeer South Primary School
Participants: Primary: whole school, 230 students
Artistic Discipline: Visual arts
Curriculum Focus: The Arts, Design, ICT, Science, Mathematics, English, History, Geography, Personal Learning and Interpersonal Development, Thinking Processes
Funded Through: Extended School Residencies program

The Big Draw project might have been better titled the 'Bigger-than-Ben-Hur project'. A different artist was partnered with each class for the whole year. Each artist and teacher team created their own targeted mini project that included:

  • A civilisation created from buried artefacts
  • Learning to see our environment with fresh eyes
  • A life sized cardboard jungle to walk and play in
  • Explorations through drawing in the science class, library and playground

As well as the many discreet projects with each class, the Big Draw incorporated family drawing days at the school, professional learning days for all staff and the installation of a new large-scale work for the library - designed by a team of students from across year levels and realised as panels by every student and teacher in the school.

It wasn't possible to document every mini project of the Big Draw - the film clips show a snapshot overview and a close up of two of the mini projects.

Review the film clips and other resources from this project to find out how to:

  • Boost student learning outcomes. The sustained periods of time spent with participating artists in residence had a positive impact on the students' attention to detail, their ability to persist and their capacity to reflect on their work.
  • Expose students to divergent thinking. The artists on this project brought unique interests and points of view. They didn't 'dumb down' their processes or language, which had a real impact with students.
  • Mine the project for deep learning. Each mini project focused on rich material which could be explored in multiple ways and with deepening layers of complexity.
Toobelong Circus - Circus Oz and Tooborac and Pyalong Primary

Partners: Circus Oz and Tooborac and Pyalong Primary Schools
Participants: Primary, whole of both schools: 120 students
Artistic Discipline: Circus
Curriculum Focus: History, Geography, The Arts, Health and Physical Education, English, Thinking, Personal Learning,
Interpersonal Development
Funded Through: Extended School Residencies program

The teachers of Pyalong and Tooborac described their small rural schools as 'islands in central Victoria'. The students had little access to cultural or arts activities in their local area and public transport to outside opportunities was limited. When partnered with Circus Oz, one of Australia's oldest and best loved circus companies, the school principals and teachers were over the moon.

Together with the team from Circus Oz they designed a project that would integrate with a whole school inquiry on Asia. The resulting performance shared an epic journey to see the Great Wall of China, meet a dragon, dance Bollywood style and unearth a terracotta army before discovering that the treasures from afar are all part of our culture here in Australia.

Review the film clips and other resources from this project to find out how to:

  • Deeply integrate your project into curriculum. Toobelong Circus was a purposeful, inquiry-based learning project that engaged students in their own learning.
  • Challenge everybody. Everyone went out of their comfort zone and experienced something new - the students, teachers, school principals and the artists.
  • Build community. Toobelong Circus engaged the whole school community and broke down the barriers between teachers and students, different year levels and families and the school.
From Scratch - Wendy Jagger and Mansfield Primary School

Partners: Ceramic artist, Wendy Jagger and Mansfield Primary School
Participants: Primary, Year 6: 52 students
Artistic Discipline: Ceramics
Curriculum Focus: The Arts, Personal Learning, Design, Creativity and Technology
Funded Through: Artists in Schools program

In this age of convenience, so many of the objects around us are mass produced, pre-packaged and pre-prepared. Mealtimes are increasingly a 'grab and eat' experience.

From Scratch harnessed the knowledge and passion of ceramicist, Wendy Jagger, to take students on a journey from raw materials to functional object, and inspire them to see themselves and the everyday objects around them with fresh eyes.

For the duration of the project the art classroom was converted into a studio which saw the students and their teacher become creative peers, supporting, succeeding and at times struggling together to create the tableware for a community feast.

The journey of From Scratch saw a teacher's practice re-invigorated, an artist inspired to create a new body of work and 52 students invest themselves in their own and each other's creations.

Review the film clips and other resources from this project to find out how to:

  • Invest in your own professional learning. The art teacher involved speaks passionately about what this project has meant for the development of her teaching and personal arts practice. Having a professional mentor in the classroom allowed her to be a learner again.
  • Build student relationships. The students noticed how much they found themselves supporting one another throughout the process. Many felt that they were more comfortable with their peers in the playground and outside school because of this project.
  • Inspire a new body of work. The artist, Wendy Jagger, found that the students' experimentation encouraged her to 'loosen up' with the techniques she usually used. This project has been the impetus for a new series of works.
Lismore Primary School and Glen Walton make Unique Digital instruments

Partners: Glen Walton and Lismore Primary School
Participants: Principal, staff and the 29 students
Artistic Discipline: Digital technologies
Curriculum: Music, Science, Maths, Digital Technologies, , English, and Critical and Creative Thinking capabilities.
Funded through: Virtual Creative Professionals in Schools

‘Unique Digital Instruments’ was a Virtual Creative Professionals in Schools partnership between Lismore Primary School and creative Glen Walton. Glen describes himself as a performer, writer, theatre maker, artist, musician, DJ and all round DIY tinkerer.

Glen worked closely with the Principal, staff and the 29 students both at the school, and remotely from his Melbourne studio via Polycom. The project had three components; inventions, music and science. Starting in the class room, Glen introduce the students to composition and via a Polycom session with music educator Cayn Borthwick. The ‘Unique digital instruments were created using microcontroller Arduino units to build interactive digital instruments from random objects such as plants, water or a ball of foil, that could sense and control sound.

In making the ‘instruments’, the students were introduced to simple wiring, coding and the nature of circuitry. When the units were set up they enabled students to create ‘triggers’ that set off sounds. Interacting with these instruments encouraged the exploration of musical concepts through play. These workshops facilitated experiences for students to become active makers, musicians, designers and innovators.

This project provided engaging learning outcomes across Music, Science, Maths, Digital Technologies, , English, and Critical and Creative Thinking capabilities.

The Tale of Troy - Tate Street Primary School and Western Edge Youth Arts

A language and literature-based theatre project that brought together Western Edge Youth Arts and Geelong's Tate Street Primary School to explore Greek mythology.

In My Day - Dave Jones and Natimuk Primary School

Partners: Dave Jones and Natimuk Primary School
Participants: Students and Natimuk residents (former students)
Artistic Discipline: Animation
Curriculum Focus: English, The Arts, Design Creativity and Technology, Interpersonal Development, Thinking Processes
Funded Through: Artists in Schools program

In 2004 as part of the Artists in Schools program, local animator Dave Jones worked with students at Natimuk Primary School to produce the wonderful In My Day.

By interviewing senior Natimuk residents, the children created illustrations to bring Natimuk Primary School, 1934, to life.

In My Day has gone on to win numerous awards and generated such an amount of interest that Dave revisited the senior residents and school kids to create In My Day: The Inside Story, which reveals storytelling and animation processes.

Words with Wings - Kate Gorringe-Smith and Point Cook College

Partners: Kate Gorringe-Smith and Point Cook College
Participants: Year 9
Artistic discipline: Print-based environmental art and storytelling project

‘Words with Wings’ was a partnership with artist Kate Gorringe-Smith and Point Cook College, a culturally diverse school community where sixty-one different languages are spoken.

This print-based environmental art and storytelling project weaves student's family stories of migration with those of the migratory shorebirds that depend on Point Cook’s local habitat.

Words with Wings explores important human issues: why must some animals (including humans) travel to find a home? What makes a home? What are the 'how’s, whys and challenges' of migration?

Students created a collaborative migration story through poetry and prose and linocut prints to illustrate their stories in book form - ‘Rosie Wonders’. Students then developed Rosie Wonders as a performance piece to share with their community.

The purpose of this project was to increase student connections beyond school to allow for the development of a broader social conscience and intercultural capabilities through authentic engagement practices; nurturing empathy in children for those who have faced the challenges of migrating from other countries. In a largely digital world, we hope children will learn to look up and read the sky, read the birds and have more empathy for the world in which they live.

These featured projects were funded through Creative Victoria's Education Partnerships programs: Extended School Residencies (jointly funded with the Australia Council for the Arts), Artists in Schools and Creative Learning Partnerships (co-funded by the Department for Education and Training and managed by Creative Victoria).