What we did with the funding:
The support from the Edith M Ellis 1985 Charitable Trust went towards:
- Rehearsing the Keepin’ It Cool (KIC) performance with a team of four professional actors and a director
- Preparing and updating the Keepin’ It Cool (KIC) Teachers Resource pack
- Writing an intensive follow up workshop programme for young people who have been excluded from school and attend a Special Education Unit (SEU)
- Confirming bookings with 27 different educational establishments, including three special education units
As a result of the above activities we achieved the following outputs:
- Keepin’ It Cool was performed to 24 mainstream schools across London
- We engaged a total of 4,482 young people in mainstream schools (far exceeding our target of 2,000)
- We engaged an additional 34 young people from Specialist Education Units
- We delivered 15 follow up workshops
“I liked it because it taught me what to do when I’m angry … because I get angry with my sister … I will count to five, calm down and breathe deeply and think positive”.
Pupil, aged 8, St. Peter’s of London Docks Primary School, London Borough of Tower Hamlets
“They have clear strategies they can use and hopefully will be able to encourage others to do the same … (The performance has) addressed a real issue in a fun and engaging manner”.
David Jeronmois, Teacher, Sir Thomas Abney Primary School, London Borough of Hackney
“Many commented that they felt better equipped to deal with their anger. The children spoke about this and made reference to the techniques shown when discussing a conflict scenario in our classroom … They now know how to deal with conflict. It was engaging and fast paced. The children were focussed and entertained throughout”.
Julie Odese, Teacher, John Ball Primary School, London Borough of Lewisham
The difference the project has made:
The Keepin’ It Cool project provided young people with tools and techniques that enable them to deal with difficult situations in a positive manner and resolve differences before they escalate and become more serious. Each of the pupils who watched the performance were taught that:
- It’s OK to be angry – young people are not alone in their anger, it’s a normal emotion.
- There are things they can do with their anger or when people are angry with them.
- Having different opinions/views is OK. We can agree to differ but in certain situations there is no negotiation (i.e. in school).
All schools were provided with a KIC Teachers Resource pack which further enhanced the learning outcomes and allowed teachers to build a whole programme of work around the performance. The project promoted understanding, communication, compromise and harmony and introduced methods and concepts for managing and resolving conflicts that have been demonstrated to be effective.
“The delivery was innovative and contemporary. This enabled the children to relate well … I could tell from watching the audience and their questions that they had taken it all on board … I thoroughly enjoyed the show”.
Teresa Varrier, Teaching Assistant, Plumcroft Primary School, London Borough of Greenwich
“I liked the fact that it showed us how we can use our anger in a good way … I learned that things will always work out for me if I keep it cool and that I can always calmly share my feelings with someone I trust”.
Pupil, aged 10, Gayhurst Primary School, London Borough of Hackney
Specialist Education Units
Improving the attitude and behaviour of young people who have already been excluded from mainstream school and attend SEUs is vital. We worked with three SEUs to tailor-make a follow up workshop programme which proved to be extremely beneficial for their ‘at risk’ young people. During the project we worked with young people with a wide variety of issues which contribute to them not being able to attend mainstream school, such as:
- Severe behaviour problems
- Special Educational Needs
- Anger issues
- ADHD and/or Autism
- Lack of communication and social skills
As a result of these issues these young people find it hard to engage in lessons and need additional support in order to learn. Our methods of using theatre as our tool to engage and inspire means that these young people have the chance to learn in a way which they enjoy. The more they enjoy something the more likely they are to take on the important messages.
Special Education Units have very little resources and their budgets for additional activities which support and enrich their curriculum are severely limited. Our Keepin’ It Cool project worked to improve the pupils’ ability to diffuse situations as and when they occur and provided them with a variety of techniques to calm themselves down. This means their time in school is more productive and less eventful. Our team saw the young people ewe engaged flourish within this project; learning to have more control over their emotions and ‘keep it cool’ helped to raise their confidence and ability to learn.
“They have looked forward to the workshops and they talk about ‘Anger Man’ in their day to day conversations … Use of humour and high energy performance caught the attention of children and engaged their interest … Good to have positive messaged delivered in a positive way”.
Gorden M, Teacher, Cambell Primary Centre, London Borough of Barking & Dagenham
“I liked the way they showed us what to do and how to do it so they taught us something new … I learnt that it’s OK to be angry sometimes, but you need to sort it out properly”.
Pupil, aged 11, Charlton Manor Primary School, London Borough of Greenwich
The project outcomes
The results of the Keepin’ It Cool project, clearly show the success of our project.
- 97% enjoyed the show
- 82% learned something new about how to manage their anger
- 84% learned how to help others manage their anger
- 98% learned that everyone feels angry sometimes
- 94% think it’s OK to be angry sometimes
- 92% think they’ll deal with anger better next time
- 100% felt their pupils learnt something new
- 100% felt that Chain Reaction achieved their project goals
- 100% felt the young people’s attitudes have changed
“I loved everything, it was just amazing! I also liked Shayne because he kept calm. I like Anger Man because he helped people and he had nice underpants!”.
Pupil, aged 10, Woolmore Primary School, London Borough of Tower Hamlets
All the performances and workshops were brilliantly received across the tour and we were delighted with the exceptionally positive feedback from both teachers and pupils. Many members of staff spoke to the team after the performance to express their gratitude and enjoyment of our project evaluation, highlighted how the project made a positive difference to attitudes and behaviours and brought about positive learning and change. Many schools made good use of the Teachers Resource pack prior to the performance and afterwards which meant the show formed part of a broader package of work which took place over several weeks.
We would like to think The Edith M Ellis 1985 Charitable Trust for the opportunity to take this much needed work into so many schools and for providing young people with the chance to develop and grow by learning how to communicate effectively with their peers and teachers.
“I liked how they referred to different TV series that we watch … I learned that it’s OK to be angry but to use it in a good way. That if I’m angry I will count to 5 and keep it cool”.
Pupil, aged 8, John Ball Primary School, London Borough of Lewisham
“The show was so relevant to school situations with anger daily. This showed the children that they could easily relate to the scenarios … It exceeded my expectations”.
Deputy Head Teacher, St. Peters of London Docks Primary School, London Borough of Tower Hamlets
“Don’t always lash out, just keep calm and relaxed … Go and use a strategy like counting to 5 and relax or go and get advice from friends”.
Pupil, aged 10, Eglington Primary School, London Borough of Greenwich