21 March 2019

The School of Education and Communities hosted special visitors as part of a 'pirates' literacy pop-up launch. 

Children from nine local primary schools were invited to the School to work with the Hackney Pirates, an east London literacy charity for young people. The goal was to help children develop their creative writing skills in an inspired setting. 

Hosting the pirate pop-up was the brainchild of  School senior lecturer Dr Fran Zanatta and UEL volunteering coordinator Joe Crook, but it was a collaborative effort between University lecturers, students from several disciplines, the University's civic engagement team, local schools and the Hackney Pirates.

The feedback from children, their teachers and volunteers working on the project has been incredibly positive, with children developing their skills and getting their first experience of UEL. The project was complex because of the number of teams and people who pledged their time and skills to make it happen. Overall the project demonstrates how UEL students, staff and the voluntary sector can work together to make an impact in our local communities,"

Gail May, director for civic engagement at UEL, said.

The music room in the education building at Stratford was transformed thanks to students on the MA Interior Design course, who imagined a pirate ship, sea and island with a volcano using materials, lights and sounds.  Students from the music technology department assisted in the creation of a soundtrack. Students and lecturers from applied drama also participated. The setting allowed teachers from the Hackney Pirates to set the scene of pirates being shipwrecked on a desert island to inspire children to create stories.

Anastasia Karandinou, programme leader for the MA Interior Design course said, "Working with the children and the Hackney Pirates is a chance for our students to be able to participate in civic engagement and work with talented colleagues in other departments at UEL.  This was an excellent learning opportunity for the students to be involved in a real life project from conception to completion."

UEL students sat with small groups of children and helped them create short stories about what might happen to pirates on an island. The stories involved treasure, mystical creatures and Lamborghinis.

Jennah Brewer, a childhood studies and special education third-year student, helped some of the children create stories.  She said, "It was an amazing experience and really good to work with local kids and help them develop their creativity. This was a great insight into the imaginations of year 6 pupils and I loved how they came up with all these crazy, fun and fascinating stories."

Jude Williams, the chief executive of the Hackney Pirates, said, "An interest in education and the potential of children and adults is what has brought us together. We all care about young people's success and it is important to help them explore the creative side of writing and feel energised about their own creativity. By working in partnership with UEL we have been able to achieve the creation of an immersive environment in which children can be creative.  The partnership has brought children, students, volunteers and staff together to give the children a chance to really love their writing and feel proud about it."

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