1st July 21
The Village Project is over for another year, but in reality, the legacy of each Village lives on in the students who’ve taken part. The Village sees Year 8 students live in the school grounds for a week, creating their own shelters, community and guiding their own activities.
This year there was a new approach to shelter building. The previous shelters came in kit form and had been designed with students and the DT department a good few years ago. They were falling into disrepair and the pandemic had meant no time to fix them. But this turned out to be an opportunity for students to be involved again in their design. Students were given eight panels, large tarpaulins and some very clever eco-friendly cable-tie replacements and allowed to design their own shelters. This gave each group more agency over what they built and challenged them to think for themselves.
As usual we were visited by Mell and Meg (@kinda_forest_school) who set up a campfire area where students could choose to create or relax. Visits to this quiet corner of The Village saw makers bringing axe handles, nettle lip balm and leather pouches to life while others found their spirit animals or just took time to sit by the fire.
A story maker (@richstories123) came to guide students on whatever imaginative journey they wanted to take and our artist in residence, Vic, created willow sculptures aided by those who felt so inclined. There were drumming workshops, Ju Jitsu and the King Alfred mobile forge alongside student-initiated activities like chess, poker and pom-pom making.
The idea behind The Village is to remove students from their screens and other devices, and to allow them to choose how they want to shape their week. They can learn new skills and create new friendships, or they can enjoy activities they already know and like without having timetables to stick to. They have to be resilient, making shelters and cooking their own meals, they have to co-operate, sharing their space with others and they have to be present, no phones and no going home at 4pm. In this way, The Village creates a memorable window in their King Alfred journey – one that students in lower years look forward to, and those in later years always remember on graduation day as a formative experience.