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Pupils’ work on display at the National Gallery

Posted on: 10 May 2019

Examples of creative writing by pupils at Gateway School in Great Missenden are currently on display at the National Gallery for thousands to see as part of the Take One Picture initiative - the gallery's flagship scheme for primary schools.

The work was created as part of last year’s initiative inviting children across the UK to respond to an 18th-century painting, An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump, by Joseph Wright of Derby.

In their English lessons, led by their teacher, Mrs Wendy O’Hare, Gateway School pupils responded to the painting by asking questions about the boy, known as the scientist’s apprentice, who can be seen on the far right side of the painting. The discussions inspired pupils to create diary extracts to tell his story.  

Commenting on the learning experience, former Year 6 pupil, Sarah, said: “I really enjoyed learning about the boy in the painting…trying to piece together the history and using our imaginations to create a story of his life.”

For one week each year, Gateway School participates in Take One Picture, the National Gallery's countrywide scheme which aims to inspire cross-curricular learning, as well as a lifelong love of art. Pupils are introduced to new ideas, concepts and facts – all of which are stimulated by a single painting. All pupils at Gateway School, from Preschool to Year 6, participate and every subject’s focus of learning for the week is led by the painting.

During the week-long initiative, cross-curricular learning opportunities based on Joseph Wright of Derby’s painting ranged from pupils in PE lessons becoming oxygenated or deoxygenated blood and moving around the playground to represent the respiratory system, to pupils focusing on Debussy’s Clair de lune and Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata in their music lessons.

Susan La Farge, Headteacher at Gateway School, recently visited the exhibition at the National Gallery and was delighted to see the children’s diary extracts on display. Commenting on the exhibition, Sue said: “We have participated in Take One Picture for a number of years and I am always delighted by how engaging and inspiring the experience is for our pupils.

As I viewed the exhibition, I felt a strong sense of pride towards our pupils for creating such an impressive collection of written pieces for all to see. The quality of their work is a testament to the dedication and creativity shown by the fantastic teaching team we are so fortunate to have at Gateway School. A special thanks must go to our Art Department and Mrs Mock who masterminds this fantastic initiative each year.”

The collection of diary extracts will be on display at the National Gallery until 11th August 2019.

For further information about Gateway School, visit 

Photo: Pupils dressed up to replicate Joseph Wright of Derby’s painting “An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump” as part of their drama lessons during the school’s Take One Picture week.

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