December 22, 2021
Maria Farrell
Sara Terry

Kalil (Noongar for ‘home’)

Creative Practitioner: Sara Terry

Creative Practice: Actor

School: Yule Brook College

Teacher: Maria Farrell

Year Group: 7

Main Curriculum Focus  

Community/class project

Cross-curricular Links  

Exploring interests, living to learn.

Yule Brook is a Big Picture school, we used the Big Picture plan to guide our focus. Big Picture Education believes in ‘passion-based learning’ and ‘nurturing creativity, curiosity and independence’. They have their own learning plan in place of the curriculum, which covers the learning areas through alternative teachings much like Creative Schools.


Being the year 7s’ first semester in high-school, creating a comfortable and safe learning environment was the main focus. It was also the students’ first opportunity to work with the Big Picture Education plan, as well as Creative Schools. The students wanted to turn the class into a workshop space suitable for facilitating their projects, which aligns with the Creative Schools High Functioning learning model. This model encourages the class to be in a workshop format rather than a traditional classroom setting. The class teacher Maria wanted to focus on strengthening relationships within the class, and for students to get comfortable with their teacher. We combined this with a focus on ‘Exploring interests’ from their Big Picture plan. This focus area expands out into being a main teaching point for the year, where each student will use their interests to learn the curriculum. We looked at the class as a whole learning space and decided what areas we would like to make more comfortable, which areas we want to build and how we could do this.

Much of our projects were class-led, stemming from our initial brainstorming around what the kids wanted from their classroom, and what their immediate interests at that time were. They set expectations for their environment and we discussed limitations of the project, coming to an agreement on the realistic function and purpose of the space. We started in the deep end, developing a whole new skill together.

The students created their own designs and sewed together a seat cushion for their chairs. It was hands-on, involved measurement and design aspects of the curriculum and they had a finished product to be proud of. Another project we moved onto was individual ‘vision-boards’, where the students created a visual reference for themselves for their life goals over the next 10-15 years. This was the first element to building their personalised work spaces.

I made a Harry Potter house themed visual aid for the classroom for the 5 Habits of Learning, which we used to pinpoint which habit we had worked with in that lesson. The ‘houses’ accumulated points as the term progressed. The idea was inspired by a group of students who were fans of the Harry Potter series. The houses brought to life the 5 Habits of Learning and engaged the students to be self-aware of their learning. By the end of the term, all of the 5 Habits of Learning had points in their ‘houses’, but Imagination took the lead. This was the Habit that the students had agreed from the first class was the one they wanted to develop.

During the term a main component of the classes involved group discussions and reflection, expanding the depth of the students’ critical thinking through healthy communication and expression. Most classes would begin with a check in, where we would gather in a yarning circle, everyone would introduce themselves in Noongar (“Kaya nyang kwerl _____”) and then check in how they were doing that day.

This was key to the conversations we were having around exploring interests. Interest exploration within a school setting is usually quite limited, it was challenging to find the right way to evoke new ideas. I found our discussions before and after the class to be the most helpful at seeing what was making the students curious. The discussions also gave the students voice and agency over our project. They were encouraged by their ideas, thoughts and feelings which were consistently given space for recognition.


There was a noticeable impact on the students over the term with Creative Schools. The students have developed the ability to recognise and reflect on the purpose and impact of the projects they’re doing. Through meaningful and encouraging group discussions they are self-reflecting and expanding on their thoughts. The students were enjoying school and engaging better with their work, other peers and their teacher. The dynamic of the class has definitely been strengthened and everyone was showing support towards one another. When we first began the term, it was challenging for students to pay attention during the group discussion but over time I noticed they were all able to connect and reflect within the circle comfortably. This is a great start to making an inclusive learning environment. The students have shown development in their communication, they were getting comfortable answering hard questions, and comfortable asking questions. Individually, the students all seemed to be developing strong interest points to work with. From their work at the start of the term brainstorming strong likes/dislikes and developing concepts around a sense of self; to their final brainstorm where we could  see some students had gone from not even knowing how to answer those questions, to providing detailed insights in their answers.

Maria Farrell, our teacher at Yule Brook College reflected that she has been taken out of her comfort zone. She believes she is now willing to try new things. She has noticed that through the term with Creative Schools the students have started to think creatively, work with each other and build relationships with others.

For me as a Creative, I have discovered a whole new method of learning and teaching. The processes that we have used over the term are invaluable to my own learning and to my teaching of others. At Yule Brook, seeing the way the students have grown has made me feel secure in my teaching style. As a creative in the learning space, I have struggled to feel worthy around academic style teaching. Creative Schools has given me the ability to combine creative and academic styles of teaching, which show results. I feel confident in my abilities as a creative practitioner, and seeing the difference in the students has made me especially proud to do what I do.



“I like Creative Schools, it’s exciting. It’s exciting because it’s creative. We are more exposed to our interests like art.”
“Creative Schools is more hands on than other lessons and we don’t write on paper. We do lots of activities.”
“Creative Schools is unique and colourful.”
“You get in a good mood when you are with a Creative Practitioner. I love being creative so when you are with a Creative I’m in a good mood.”

Have you noticed a change in any of the kids in your class?

“Yes, they have more ideas when we do our projects. They are happier.”
“Creative Schools is innovative. You can be inspired to have new interests and be inspired by what you are learning.”
"Creativity is.... expressing your feelings. And being yourself. Collaborative is.... being positive. Persistent is.....never giving up. Inquisitive is....being curious.
Imaginative is....exploring your thoughts. Disciplined/Reflective is....not giving up."


"The kids love it. They ask every week: “is it Creative Schools; is the creative coming? Building relationships is the focus for the year for us. The Creative Schools sessions have helped with that. It is good to have someone else bringing in other ideas that I wouldn't have thought of. It is exposing the students to different things and helping them to explore things in different ways, it's great. It is fueling their interest projects and their explorations. It's amazing. They have built really good relationships with the creatives."