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Hackney students learn circus performance skills

Families First Circus Arts April 2015A group of 10 and 11 year olds from Hackney spent two afternoons over the Easter holidays learning to juggle with a Diabolo, balance on a trapeze and walk a tightwire. Hosted by the National Centre for Circus Arts in Hoxton, the young people are taking part in the Families First programme delivered by Inspire!

Our role in Families First is to support this group through their move from primary to secondary school. A range of workshops and outings, including the Circus Arts experience, has been organised to help build the children’s self-confidence and self-esteem, encourage them to overcome fears and build new friendships. Over three months the pupils also received one-to-one mentoring from students at Clapton Girls’ Academy Sixth Form or BSix Sixth Form College. This provided the pupils with an opportunity to talk to a young person about life at secondary school and air any concerns or fears they might have about the move. “My mentor said I should try to make friends quickly because it’s hard otherwise,” said Polyin Elbazer, who will be leaving Kingsmead Community School to go to The Urswick School in September.

All of the young people had the chance to try three circus skill disciplines – juggling, static trapeze and tightwire – and to develop different moves and tricks as their confidence increased. “I enjoyed doing the Diabolo best because I could do tricks like the ‘waterfall’,” said Fahim Ullah, brimming with enthusiasm.

At the end of their second day, the seven students, plus Fahim’s older brother, Saquib, were confident enough to showcase their new skills to family and friends.

Jonny Boux, Director of Inspire!, said: “Families First has already enabled us to help 50 young people with their move from primary to secondary school over the past two years. In the process, we identified that these pupils would benefit greatly from further support during that first year at secondary school, so we were delighted that the Big Lottery Fund responded to our concerns with some additional funding to enable us to provide this. As a result, we will continue working with this group of young people over the summer holiday period and into their first year at secondary school.

“This is the third and final year of the programme and we shall be working hard, with our partners, to identify further funding streams that will enable us to continue this much-needed initiative. Research highlights the importance of a successful transition to secondary education and that those who struggle in that first year often find it hard to catch up.”

The Hackney Families First Programme is delivered by a consortium of agencies and aims to provide early intervention and joined-up support for local families. Funded by the Big Lottery Fund, the consortium is led by Hackney Council for Voluntary Service (HCVS). The partners are: HCVS, Claudia Jones OrganisationAfrican Community School, Inspire! and Day-Mer.