PCEP Forum 3: Exploring Early Years

The third in a series of quarterly events being piloted by Plymouth Cultural Education Partnership took place on June 9th at The Soapbox Theatre.

The event was an opportunity to look at and explore the provision of Creative and Cultural opportunities for early years in Plymouth.  What’s already happening? Who is in the city and region? What would we like to see? What could we do next?

Presenters included The Soapbox Theatre, Action for ChildrenUniversity of Plymouth, Above Bounds, Exim Dance and Theatre Royal Plymouth, who all shared with us their very specialist approaches to developing creative work with and for early years children and families in Plymouth.

The Soapbox children’s theatre/Stiltskin gave us insight into the history of their space and the important work they continue to produce.

Soapbox were then joined by Sarah Parsons from Action for Children and Karen Wickett from University of Plymouth to share a project they’d collaboratively piloted for early years children and families.  You can check out their presentation here.  In addition to the presentation Karen, Jacqueline and Sarah have all written articles for Early Years Educator Magazine sharing further thoughts about artists within Early Years settings, practice in action in the setting and giving voice to parents and carers.  You can check out the first of the trio of articles here.

Above Bounds Theatre Collective shared research into how they worked during covid to keep connecting with their audiences and adapted their approaches to keep making links with early years children and families at a tricky time.  As part of the presentation Above Bounds shared a great research report that explored their approaches and connections during covid.  The report looked at their different approaches and adaptions to working with people during covid. You can see the reporhere.

Exim Dance CIC- a Plymouth based award winning Dance Company, shared the work they are developing for early years family audiences through their collaboration with Barnardos Children’s Centre’s in Plymouth.  You can check out their presentation and the fantastic work they are doing here.

Theatre Royal Plymouth shared with us their Tiny Tales project, how it works and what it has done so far and also shared the pilot of Tiny Tales as a model within a group of primary schools in the city.   Their presentation is available to download here.

Alongside the wonderful presentations there was also a rich discussion with those in the room sharing thoughts on opportunities to work creatively with early years and thinking about how we can continue to celebrate the specialist practitioners that we have in Plymouth that are delivering this sort of work.  You can check out all the thoughts and key points from the presenters here.  And the wider discussion notes are here.

Following Up: A Pedagogical Meeting Place for Arts Leaders and Early Years Practitioners

Following on from the PCEP Forum event Dr Karen Wickett organised an event to bring together a smaller focussed group of arts leaders and early years practitioners to look at next steps and identify a further possible pilot project that could support the development of creative education and opportunities for early years.  

The event took further stock of what the opportunities and barriers are for developing creative work with and for early years children, pracitioners, artists and families and explored possible ways forward too.  You can check out the main comments and points from the discussion here.

If you are interested and would like to know more about how this group plan to take a pilot project forward please get in touch with Dr Karen Wickett via: karen.wickett@plymouth.ac.uk  There’s also a great list of resources and useful docs collated from the event here

The next PCEP forum will take place in September and will focus on co-creation, keep an eye on your inbox for more information and the date soon.

The event hosts:
The event was hosted by Plymouth Cultural Education Partnership (PCEP): a strategic collaboration between cultural, educational, community and youth organisations across the city.  PCEP seeks to address inequality in Plymouth by ensuring all children and young people have access to a high quality arts and cultural education offer that responds to their needs.  The PCEP Strategic Objectives are to improve quantity, quality and access to cultural education for children and young people.


*For the purpose of these events we are defining ‘Cultural Education’ as any activity delivered by organisations, individuals, schools, educators that connects with young people and encourage creativity, creative thinking and a creative output in any form (painting, sculpture, dance, theatre, craft, music…)