SPARK Culture on Your Doorstep 2023 The Forgotten Women of Wakefield

The 2023 Culture on Your Doorstep Programme combined delivery of a series of teacher CPD sessions focused on place-based learning, creative collaborations and cultural capital with a number of artist/teacher collaborations in schools.

The aim of the collaborative projects was to explore different approaches to place-based learning. The artist, supported by a SPARK cultural partner, worked directly with a teacher, learning from and with each other, planning and team teaching a student-centred, creative enquiry, based around local art, culture or heritage. The enquiry allowed the pupils to deepen their understanding of the culture on their doorstep and enabled partners to explore how best to consult with children to make learning relevant, all through the lens of a chosen curriculum topic.

Together the partners have created resources and templates for teaching creative place-based enquiries, which we are excited to be sharing with you here!

First up, is a unit focusing on the Forgotten Women of Wakefield.

This project took place between May and July 2023 and involved freelance artist and researcher Sarah Cobham, of Dreamtime Creative working with Year 2 class teacher and Art Lead at Mackie Hill School, Lauren Hartshorne.

Sarah and Lauren worked together to re-plan the school’s existing Yr 2 History unit, “Wonder Women,” which focused on the lives of significant individuals from the past, to incorporate women from Wakefield. Sarah has worked extensively on the ‘Forgotten Women of Wakefield’ project and was able to share this research with the children. Together Sarah and Lauren planned and delivered a creative unit of work that incorporated art, drama, music and personal reflection. The children deepened their understanding of historical concepts and individuals, improved their research skills and gained knowledge of local relevance and meaning to them. They also developed their emotional intelligence, by exploring contemporary issues that were important to them and developing empathy for other people.

The project started with the children spending a day in Wakefield city centre with Sarah learning about artist Louisa Fennell, following parts of the Louisa Fennell Trail and using her artwork to compare Wakefield past and present and create their own sketches. Four classroom sessions learning about other Wakefield women followed, with the children interpreting primary sources and producing their own creative responses to the learning including pin badges, blue plaques, drama, music and creative writing. Their work was all collated in their own learning journal, mirroring the journal that Louisa Fennel herself created (which can be seen in Wakefield Local Studies library). The project finished with a showcase of the children’s work for their parents.

Wakefield Libraries were the partner organisation for this project, and provided support by visiting the school with a range of books as well as primary sources from the local studies collection for the children to explore. More details about Wakefield Schools Library Service can be found here: Schools library service – Wakefield Council

Throughout the project, the teacher and artist were asked to write reflections on their experience of collaborating and delivering the unit. Here are some of their comments:

“The children are engaged and enjoying the topic and working in their journals. The lessons are hitting the Y2 objectives on the progression grid. My subject knowledge is improving and I feel I am able to teach this topic again in future years using the resources that Sarah has provided.” – Lauren

“It has given me food for thought in terms of using what I have learnt as a teacher and arts lead and what I can implement in other year groups to support the children’s learning and understanding of cultural capital within our local area.” Lauren

“The creative activities are the highlight of each session. The multi- sensory experiences have been particularly rewarding and provided deep learning. The painting and drawing outside in Wakefield. The making of placards, the design and creation of brooches. 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

All of the resources and planning used to teach this unit are available free of charge using the links below. You can also find information about the many other forgotten Women of Wakefield on the website There are many more themes and historical concepts that can be explored with your pupils through the stories of these inspirational women!

Unit Scheme of Work: Download.
Resources for Session 1 about artist Louisa Fennel: Download.
Resources for Session 2 about suffragist Florence Beaumont: Download.
Resources for Session 3 about social reformer Edith Mackie: Download.
Resources for Session 4 about newspaper proprietor and abolitionist Ann Hurst: Download.
Resources for Session 5 on research skills: Download.

For further information about the project or to speak to those involved about how they can work with your school, contact Kate at

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