Pupils enjoy comic workshops

Children had a chance to be the hero of their own story when they took part in a specialist comic-writing workshop this week.

Year 4 pupils from Cambridge and Vickerstown primary schools created comic characters and stories about their own lives during the Comic Potential events.

The workshops were led by London-based architect turned visual artist Sabba Khan supported by former teacher Sim Leech.

He said the session helped to build confidence and showed how comics could enhance classroom learning as an effective tool.

“Children are more likely to pick up a comic than a novel. A lot of people think comics are about super heroes but we are encouraging them to write about what is important to them,” said Sim.

“For example, we will encourage them to look at themselves as a source of material, think about their day and generate a character from that.”

Comic Potential, which is funded through Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s Arts-based Learning Fund and delivered by the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, aims to improve reading enjoyment for pupils in the classroom and as a result impact positively on a range of other educational outcomes and personal skills.

The project, which runs over two years, has included work with staff and pupils at Cambridge and Vickerstown primaries, which are both part of South Cumbria Multi-Academy Trust, alongside George Hastwell on Walney and Sandgate School in Kendal.

Cambridge Primary School Teacher Rachel Ritchie said the comic structure was a way for the pupils to access subject areas in the curriculum.

“They love the comics and some of our reluctant readers are now accessing the comic library we have set up in school.

“We are using this kind of sequencing across other subjects for example we looked at the water cycle in science and created comics for that topic.”

The pupils also designed ‘exquisite corpses’ where they each had a turn at drawing a body part in secret and the results were shared with great excitement.

Cambridge Primary pupils Macie Gorbik said: “I have enjoyed doing the characters where someone does the head and another the body and another the legs, it makes me feel happy because I can design them.” Her classmate Cole Major added it had been ‘very good’. “I like art and this is looking at drawing people creatively.”

Vickerstown School Headteacher David Holmes said the series of workshops, delivered by professionals, had been really well-received in the school.

“We are now looking at sharing what we have learnt through this project with other schools across our Trust as special sessions in June,” he said.

The project will culminate in an exhibition at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October 2024.

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