Over half of London primary schools signed up to Tate Year 3 Project

21 November 2018

A New Direction's School Relationships Manager, Naranee Ruthra-Rajan, gives us an update on the Tate Year 3 Project - run in partnership with Tate, Artangel & Steve McQueen

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In the nine weeks since the Tate Year 3 Project launched, the response from schools has been phenomenal. Within 6 weeks, over half the primary schools in London had signed up. In 8 weeks of photography, we have photographed 12,260 children, in 494 classes, in 230 schools.

In each school, the Tate Year 3 Photographers have been providing an introduction to the project, discussing how to ‘read’ a photo, playing a drama game related to the themes of the project, and of course, taking the class photo. Children and teachers alike have been very excited about the project, with one member of staff even wearing a gold jacket, especially for the photo!

Children have understandably been very curious about Steve McQueen - particularly why he chose to photograph Year 3, and why he chose to become an artist. They have also asked what was most important to him when he was 7 years old, and whether what he did as a 7-year-old has influenced him as an artist now. Interesting questions about art and the project itself have also been raised, including:

"Who first invented art? When was art invented?"

"What is it like inside a gallery?"

"How will the photo leave the camera and be displayed in the gallery?"

"How different do you think the project would look if you did it in another country?"

"Is photography art?"

Children have found different ways to say thank you to the photographers, including thank you cards, a ‘hugging circle’ and football/firework chants! One photographer was also interviewed for school radio about the project, life as a photographer and her experience at the school that day.

The free learning resources have also proved popular, with 2164 total downloads so far. A number of schools have used the project as inspiration and incorporated the Year 3 Project into wider photography projects. One even created a whole science-focused scheme of work about light based on the project.

Take a look at some of the tweets and quotes from schools and students below, and if you haven't registered your school yet click here to get started!

Quotes from Year 3 children

Creativity is important because sometimes you have something in your mind and if you do art you can draw it and see what it looks like.
Playtime is important as you need to be able to rest after learning.
Sometimes you just want to sit on a bench and think about what you learnt.
Creativity gets your school uniform dirty and then you get in trouble at home!
Photographs and paintings are both artwork but painting is just a longer way of making the picture.

Quotes from schools

We just wanted to say a huge thank you for helping us to take part in the project. The teachers said that the photographer was fantastic and very engaging!
I wanted to send a quick thank message to say thank you for such a wonderful photography session that the children had today…..It is these different experiences that really help us engage the children with creative arts.

For all of us it is very exciting to appear in one of the most famous galleries in the world and be part of a snapshot in time and appear with others.

The idea of school photos traditionally kept in boxes looked at after decades coming off the mantlepiece and into a gallery in their thousands encourages a shift my perception, from the individual to societal and the present and future that is offered to children. It has made me reflect on my role as a teacher and the need to teach the whole child, much more than the curriculum!