21 November 2022
The heads of two Birmingham secondary schools which worked together on a photography project as part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival attended a reception at the House of Commons last week to mark the importance of partnerships between the state and independent sectors.
Kirsty von Malaisé, Principal of King Edward VI High School for Girls (KEHS), and Pritpal Hyare, Headteacher of Bordesley Green Girls’ School and Sixth Form, were invited to the launch of Celebrating Partnerships 2022, a booklet produced by the Independent Schools Council which features the KEHS TuneUp Arts programme as an example of good practice.
TuneUp was created by a team of KEHS teachers at the height of the pandemic to bring the Arts into as many schools as possible. It currently has more than 600 schools signed up to access online Arts content, and last summer it was awarded funding for its “Culture in Common” project as part of the Birmingham 2022 Festival, to engage professional artists to work with six schools in Birmingham.
Culture in Common took a child’s eye view of Birmingham culture, how it affected them and how they could influence it, and the project aimed to have a legacy impact on the children who took part, as well as the wider city.
Bordesley Green students participated in Culture in Common’s photography stream, which was led by local photographer Kate Green and supported by young Arts Ambassadors from across the King Edward VI Foundation, of which KEHS is a part. Photographs taken by students are now displayed in Bordesley Green’s main entrance, which has been reconfigured to provide a space in which students, staff and visitors can reflect and discuss their interpretations of the images. Photography has also been introduced into other parts of school life, such as taking cameras for students to use on school trips.
Kirsty von Malaisé said: “It was an honour to attend Parliament with Pritpal and to have TuneUp recognised nationally. Our hope for Culture in Common was to have a genuine impact, not just for the students who participated, but for their schools and wider communities. We were so moved by the feedback from Bordesley Green: students, who had perhaps never visited a gallery, were inspired through their photography workshops to curate space in their school differently, and to see the world through a different lens.
“We now aim to develop TuneUp further, particularly focusing on the role of the Arts Ambassadors to enable us to take the programme to more local schools.”
Pritpal Hyare said: “We were delighted to be invited to work with King Edward VI High School for Girls on the TuneUp Arts project. Using photography, our students created abstract self-portraits which explored ways to visually express their individuality, their personal cultures and heritage, and to say something about themselves as a young person in Birmingham. The students absolutely loved the whole project. The project has inspired and excited not only the students who were involved directly, but many other people in the school.
“It was an absolute honour attending the Celebrating Partnerships 2022 event with Kirsty in the House of Commons.”
TuneUp is one part of a rich partnerships programme at KEHS, which runs in conjunction with a similar programme at King Edward’s School.