SPARK Case Study: Creative Paths – Culture On Your Doorstep

Culture On Your Doorstep is a schools-based initiative in Wakefield aiming to enhance teachers’ ability to implement place-based curricula and connect with the cultural landscape of the local area. The programme emphasises collaboration between schools, teachers, and local artists to build lasting relationships and resources. Four Continuing Professional Development (CPD) sessions were conducted in 2023, focusing on creative learning pedagogy, cultural capital theory, and collaboration possibilities. Attended by 45 individuals from 13 schools (2 infant schools, one junior school, 7 primary schools and 2 SEN schools), the sessions received positive feedback for being inspiring and engaging. The involved schools are located in 8 of Wakefield’s 21 wards and 6 out of the 13 schools have an above average number of pupils eligible for Free School Meals.

The initiative also included four pilot projects in primary and secondary schools, connecting teachers with local artists. Projects like “Wonder Women” and “A Walk in the Woods” creatively explored local culture and heritage, improving students’ research skills and engagement. Positive outcomes included improved awareness of local resources, increased teacher confidence, and enhanced student autonomy. The program inspired collaborative teaching approaches, fostered crucial links between schools and cultural organisations, and encouraged the integration of creativity into the curriculum. The legacy includes ongoing community projects, increased teacher readiness for similar initiatives, and the sharing of resource packs among Wakefield schools. Overall, Culture On Your Doorstep successfully promoted a sense of place, curiosity, and cultural relevance in education.


In 2023 SPARK’s programme strand “Creative Paths” was delivered through the Culture On Your Doorstep programme. Culture On Your Doorstep is a schools-based initiative, led throughout the year by programme coordinator Kate Fraser. The programme aims to equip teachers with the knowledge, understanding and confidence to develop a place-based curriculum, improving their students’ cultural capital and sense of connection to local culture and heritage. The programme’s emphasis on place-based curricula is rooted in a commitment to share localised knowledge and encourage children and young people in Wakefield to learn about and take pride in their city. The programme was funded through Partnership Investment from IVE and match funding from Wakefield Council.

Culture On Your Doorstep is a collaborative programme connecting schools and teachers with local artists and cultural organisations – the hope is to build relationships and resources which can have a legacy beyond the programme. The programme consisted of four CPD sessions for teachers, together with four pilot projects in schools, each of which facilitated collaborations between artists and teachers.

CPD Sessions

Four CPD sessions were offered as part of the programme, which took place between March and November 2023. These sessions explored creative learning pedagogy, cultural capital theory and the possibilities of collaboration, aiming to equip teachers with practical ideas for creative and locally based activities, as well as broaden their awareness of the opportunities available locally. The sessions were targeted at teachers from EYFS through to KS3 and were programmed as follows:

  • People and Place: Making Learning Matter – This session explored the potential of place-based narratives and local context to support cross-curricular learning.
  • Cultural Capital: From the Doorstep to Your Classroom – This session focused on how teachers can embed cultural capital in their practice, making it relevant, valuable and inclusive for pupils
  • Teaching Herstory: Bringing forgotten stories of Wakefield women to life in your primary curriculum – This session focused specifically on how local historical figures might be used to support the teaching of key historical concepts.
  • Creative Collaborations: The benefits of working with artists for children, teachers and your school – This session explored the possibilities and practicalities of working with Wakefield artists on a range of scales and budgets.

The sessions reached 45 attendees across at 13 Wakefield schools. Feedback was very positive across the board, with sessions described as “inspiring”, “entertaining” and “engaging”. Teachers who attended felt that they had gained new ideas for the classroom, been inspired to explore creative, place-based curricula further, as well as engage more with Wakefield’s cultural organisations. They also expressed a keenness to share learnings from the CPD sessions more widely with colleagues and within their professional network.

“Great CPD for staff – presenters were knowledgeable and engaging; great ideas to use in school” (Teacher feedback)

Teachers found the sessions useful in terms of discovering new ways to engage their pupils, such as creating narratives to bring people and places to life. Lots of attendees commented that the sessions had reminded them of the power of immersive storytelling and talk in the classroom, “getting children to be loud and discuss and debate”.

In particular, teachers learned the importance of finding more links to the local area and making the curriculum relevant and relatable by “using more of the children’s own culture and the world around them”. Overall, feedback reflected a commitment among teachers to “use locality as a creative pathway”, exploring active links with Wakefield’s culture and history to “engage and excite learning” in children and young people. Teachers also learned the benefits of encouraging children to be “proud of where you’re from, curious about the world”.

Another positive outcome of the CPD sessions was improved awareness of local resources and opportunities, as well as knowledge on how to “link them to the curriculum map” in an effective way.

“It’s about making the curriculum real to kids” (Teacher feedback)

Pilot Projects

Four pilot projects took place between May and December 2023 in two primary schools and two secondary schools. Projects connected teachers with artists who have close links to SPARK’s cultural partner organisations. They collaborated to develop and deliver a creative, place-based initiative for students, using local culture and heritage as a starting point to explore a National Curriculum topic. They also worked to create teaching and learning resources to be shared across Wakefield schools. Below is a summary of all four projects:

  • Wonder Women

27 Year 2 pupils from Mackie Hill Junior and Infant School, and class teacher Lauren worked with Sarah Cobham, a freelance artist and founder of the Forgotten Women of Wakefield project. The project was supported by Wakefield Libraries. Pupils explored the lives of four Wakefield women, developing their historical research skills by engaging with a variety of primary sources, and producing a range of creative responses including badges, plaques, drama, music and creative writing, as well as their own journals. The project concluded with a showcase of the children’s work for parents.

  • A Walk in the Woods: How can the local environment spark our creativity?

45 Year 2 pupils from Lee Brigg Infant School, headteacher Laurabeth Kilkenny and class teachers Hattie and Alex worked with multi-disciplinary artist Sarah Jane Palmer. The project was supported by Yorkshire Sculpture Park and The Hepworth Wakefield. It aimed to connect the art and design curriculum with explorations of the local area and environment. Across five sessions, children developed an art trail of nearby woodland, inspired by the flowers and wildlife they found there.

  • Ecology on Your Doorstep

This project involved 470 Year 8 students across Castleford and Crofton Academies. As part of the project, CPD was delivered to the Heads of KS3 Science at both schools by the curatorial and learning team at Wakefield Museums and Castles – this supported the planning and delivery of a Year 8 scheme of work concerning local naturalist Charles Waterton. Separately, freelance artist Jane Hoyrord is working with Castleford’s KS3 environmental club on a year-long creative project exploring local food chains and ecosystems to make recycled planters decorated with locally relevant images and messages about ecology and sustainability, and grow native plants from which they will make natural dyes.

  • “What do we know about Lagentium?”

A new project at Castleford Academy worked with 260 Year 9 students whose usual Language and Literature curriculum incorporates learning Latin with learning about Roman Castleford. Freelance writer Beccy Dye is working with lead teacher Melissa to make this unit of work more creative and interactive, by integrating elements of drama, role play and storytelling. Wakefield Museums and Castles are also supporting this work by providing historical insights through objects, maps and stories from Roman Castleford.

Feedback shows that the Culture On Your Doorstep programme has “inspired a more collaborative approach” to teaching and learning across schools. It has also fostered vital links between schools, local artists and cultural organisations. Working collaboratively to bring the projects to life gave teachers hugely valuable insights and practical experience, helping them to “upskill” and feel confident to design and deliver similar projects in future.

“This project has enriched the lives of our children who took part in it. They were constantly discussing what they had learnt each week with other teachers around school and their parents at the end of the day” (Teacher feedback, Mackie Hill)

Teachers and artists alike felt that the programme helped “celebrate” and champion the cause of culture and creativity in education, reinforcing the importance of “normalising creativity in the curriculum”. The opportunity to engage creatively helped encourage children to develop autonomy and a “sense of ownership in their learning”, especially as “their ideas were listened to, implemented and valued”. It was also seen as a positive moment for children with additional needs to engage and express themselves in different, creative ways. In the case of the woodland arts project, children also “reaped the mental health benefits” of being outdoors and connecting with their local area.

“The creative activities are the highlight of each session. The multi- sensory experiences have been particularly rewarding and provided deep learning… There is an increase in the emotional intelligence of children as they begin to explore what culture is and how an important cultural idea, action and consequence can change things.” (Sarah Cobham, Wonder Women project)

Across the projects, children were visibly “excited” to engage each week, and teachers felt that Culture On Your Doorstep sparked a “curiosity which will stay with them”. They also learned a lot about their local area’s heritage and culture, and this “gave them a huge sense of place” making the curriculum feel relevant to their lives.

“The students enjoyed learning about a local figure who started lots of different methods of observing wildlife. They enjoyed his diary entries and discussing the differences between how Waterton spoke compared to how we speak now. The students liked the fact we were learning about ecology but making the links to a particular person and his story.” (Teacher feedback, Castleford Academy Trust)

As a result of their involvement with Culture On Your Doorstep, Lee Brigg School has been inspired to develop a new annual community project, which will forge further links between the curriculum and the local area, continuing a commitment to place-based teaching and learning. The resources developed are an important legacy for the programme, as teachers feel equipped to run similar projects again, and resource packs are being shared more widely with other schools in Wakefield.