Throughout our history, the Blahs have engaged in research to support the development of practice and to understand more clearly the needs of our audiences/participants and the impact our work has. We have undertaken research activity in partnership with academic institutions and the local bridge organisation, formerly CapeUK, now IVE. Research activity has taken various forms, including case studies and has involved Blahs’ practitioners and teachers working as co-researchers as well as the input of external evaluators and academics.
We have now completed a piece of research that has been funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation connected to our school’s tour of The Vultures’ Song. Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural Development (SMSC) is identified in the OFSTED evaluation schedule for assessing the overall effectiveness of a school. SMSC learning has the potential to enrich young people’s lives, by getting “to the heart of what it is to be human”. But all too often, we hear from schools that SMSC provision is marginalised, and that they would like to reflect more deeply on how to integrate this aspect of learning.
Theatre Company Blah Blah Blah recognised this as both a need and an opportunity and invited primary schools in the Leeds area to join us in a research project to explore and test a new model of participatory theatre and digital resources as a tool for strengthening SMSC provision.
Working as part of a research cohort between November 2017 and March 2018, the schools have had the opportunity to:
- Identify key challenges and difficulties in their current SMSC provision
- Explore how arts-based activities – specifically participatory theatre – could help to overcome these challenges
- Take part in a programme of support and training with the Blahs
- Access a rehearsal of The Vultures’ Song, as well as a full live performance for Years 5-6
- Develop enhanced skills, resources and confidence to deliver SMSC to its full potential.