Young Promoter Q&A – Headteacher Emma Pomfret, Orton Primary School

We asked Suzanne to talk to Emma Pomfret, Headteacher at Orton CE Primary School about her role at a rural primary school and her thoughts on the benefits of arts activities and creative engagement for young people. Suzanne herself was a pupil at Orton Primary School, before attending Kirkby Stephen Grammar School.

Suzanne: As the Headteacher of Orton C of E Primary School could you tell me a bit about your ambitions from an arts point of view for the school? Do you feel that it is important for children to be able to have the opportunity to experience live performances and workshops with artists to help their educational development?

Emma: The arts are a major experience for children and can really spark their imaginations, and it is really important to go to live performance, giving children an experience that they might not have had otherwise. It is also important in school, because not everyone is as fortunate as others which means that some are otherwise not able to have this opportunity. We make it mandatory for every child to see at least one theatre show a year. For example, the children last year went to see Shrek the Musical which was a real learning experience for them. Some children have never seen a large scale performance before, which sparks their imagination and curiosity to think they could do that.

Also seeing shows from Kirby Stephen Grammar School such as ‘Matilda’ and ‘The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe’ has been really important because it shows the children at Orton primary that children just a few years older than them, can achieve this. It makes them aware that when they go up to Secondary school, they could do it too. It’s really important because it develops their imaginative, creative ideas and gets them really excited about the arts.

  • Suzanne: You have had a Highlights workshop come to Orton C of E Primary School in the past, can you tell me a bit about that?

Emma: We had a Gav Cross storytelling workshop from Highlights, showing the children how to write stories as they were learning about it in English. It was participatory and engaged the children and excited them, showing a different way of presenting stories which was very good to see. From a Headteacher’s point of view, if even only one child has a positive impact from a performance or a workshop it has been time and money well spent. We absolutely loved working with Highlights because it showed the children a more creative way of thinking and working.

  • Suzanne: After Covid 19 do you feel that not being able to show children as many shows as you could before, influenced the children? As businesses have reopened in the last 2-3 years have you seen a positive response to them seeing performances?

Emma: COVID-19 has been detrimental to some children’s education. During the first lockdown we really tried to support families, trying to keep everyone in good spirits. However during the second lockdown parents had to juggle work commitments and their children’s education all from home, which was extremely difficult for some. Having children back at school has meant that we can start reintroducing live performances and workshops, which has such a positive impact. In lockdown we sent links to online performances but they just weren’t the same and seeing children’s eyes light up when they watch live performances, sparking their imagination- it’s amazing to watch and COVID-19 had taken that all away.

  • Suzanne: Would you consider booking a Highlights performance or workshop again?

Emma: 100%! We would get another Highlights performance or workshop to come to school because our experience with Gav Cross was so positive and we had such positive feedback from the children.


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