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creating possibilities for disabled children

Three-year Creative Partnership Project

The Brief

Bamboozle was commissioned for the first year of this project following a week-long series of performances at Greenside. During that week all of the children in the school were able to access a show tailored to them. The first year of this partnership project focussed on the learning environment for students with complex needs – the school defined the following aims:

  • Being able to walk into a classroom and see staff not “doing unto” students – seeing staff engaged in active waiting and giving high quality responses to student engagement.
  • Enhancements to the way in which the school day happens – the whole class team would be aware of what’s going on and how to approach the working environment – even if a child is not being worked with they will have something to respond to.
  • “Sit on your hands” – a less interventionist approach to teaching and learning – allowing students to experience their learning in their own way.
  • A quieter classroom – a space that is not constantly filled with the staff talking and leading sessions or talking amongst themselves.
  • An environment where staff feel confident about how they facilitate learning and how they articulate their approach.
  • A learning environment that is inclusive for staff as well as for students.
  • A learning environment where staff are confident to move beyond caring for their students to creating an immersive learning experience for students – where they see more of what’s possible.

Towards the end of the year Bamboozle led an INSET day at Greenside where staff members presented their project work to their colleagues. This led to further interest in the Bamboozle Approach and we were brought in for a second year, this time focussing on the secondary Autism learning base with the following aims and outcomes:

  • Spontaneous communication, engagement – whatever form that takes, and participation.
  • Learners taking the lead and having own ideas.
  • Staff development – allowing learners to make mistakes, taking a step back, following their lead.
  • Self and mutual regulation.

The third year of the project is building on the success of the second year and this time is focussed on younger, dynamic learners who are on the Autism Spectrum.

The Project

Year one – working with four teaching teams:

  1. Project kick-off – a training and planning day with staff.
  2. Residency week – including a build-day with staff followed by a one-day adventure in the Multi-Sensory Environment for each of the four groups.
  3. Consultancy sessions – each of the four groups had six creative workshops followed by discussion and analysis – these sessions were evenly spaced throughout the year.
  4. INSET Day – Bamboozle led an INSET day which introduced the Approach and each of the four teachers presented their work to the rest of the school
  5. Review – we held an end-of-project review with everyone involved, conducted a staff survey and produced a comprehensive project report.

Year two – working with two teaching teams:

  1. Project kick-off.
  2. Consultancy sessions – each of the two groups had nine creative workshops followed by discussion and analysis – these sessions were spaced throughout the year.
  3. Review and reporting.

Year three – working with four teaching teams:

We were halfway through this year’s project when the country went into lockdown – we’ll continue the work as soon as schools are able to receive visitors from outside organisations again. The project is going well and we can’t wait to be back at Greenside.


The residency week that kicked off the first year of the project was felt by many to be successful in terms of providing an immersive, engaging and enriching experience for the learners, and ideas and thinking points for staff. Teaching staff appreciated having the time to plan and build the multi-sensory setting and they got fully involved in the narrative which included them playing the part of one of the characters in the afternoon session. The Deputy Head felt that the residency week had also impacted on the school in general, that it had created a buzz and given the wider staff ideas and inspiration for the World Book Day event which took place later on in the school year.

Teaching staff took workshop consultancy sessions on board and began changing the way they approached teaching and learning in the classroom. For at least one Teacher the work “transformed [her] practice” from the outset. Others took more time to explore and embed new ideas into classroom practice and include more creative approaches. All of the participating staff reported along the way on the different session ideas they were experimenting with in class. In the final sessions and at the End of Project Review the Teaching Staff talked about how the project had added to their thinking and that they would continue to develop their practice in future and to use a more a creative approach to teaching and learning.

“I have found the Bamboozle Approach has significantly changed my practice for the better. It has facilitated my belief that all children/learners learn better through a ‘play’ learning environment. I have now changed all my timetable work with Bamboozle themes – I try to narrate throughout the day, introduce characters and generally think much more about making all sessions more interesting and engaging by considering not only the resources but the whole environment, the way I present myself, how I talk, my expectations and what I observe.” Class Teacher – from the first year of the project.

In the second year of the project members of both staff teams showed considerable willingness to actively investigate their teaching and support practice. Their open-minded approach to observing their learners during contact sessions, to experimenting with different techniques and strategies and to transferring their explorations to the classroom, ensured that progress occurred rapidly and a lot of ground could be covered. The breakout discussion sessions that followed the practical demonstrations were absolutely crucial to the success of the project; it was during these sessions that the bulk of the important work happened. What was so significant was that everyone from each staff team was included in the breakout sessions and everyone was able to hear other people’s ideas, hear about the strategies used and offer their own thoughts. Staff reported many benefits of taking part in the project at their end-of-project review:

  • Thinking expansively about teaching and learning
  • Collective discussion and analysis – working as a team with everyone on the same page
  • Working in a controlled environment – even if there’s chaos everyone knows what they’re doing
  • Flexibility – adapting sessions as they’re in progress to make sure they continue to meet the learners’ needs
  • Confidence – all staff felt more confident about their practice following the project
  • Active, purposeful observation – everyone felt that they’d improved their observation skill and recognised that sometimes standing back and watching is an active part of teaching and leads to more appropriate and timely interventions
  • Trust relationships and group dynamics – the staff learnt a lot about their students and how they interact with each other which forged stronger trust relationships between staff and students and amongst the students.

“I have gained a lot from this project. It has enabled me to think and plan more for each individual learner – thinking about safe spaces and using tools to enable confidence in learners. It has given me confidence to step back and allow each learner to be more spontaneous and also initiate learning as well as communication. I wish as a school we had more time to debrief with the team about learning and also allow one member to observe and capture evidence. I also know I can continue this in my practice as I have already started embedding it in a different class and have already seen results in engagement and self-regulation.” Class Teacher – from the second year of the project.

We’re looking forward to finding out how the third year of the project turns out!

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