Creativity at Peterhouse: A Visual Journey
ArtHouse, 65 Eastbank Street, Southport, Merseyside, PR8 1EJ
13th – 24th February 2024
Great Minds Think Differently
People diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) experience a wide range of strengths and challenges.
Given that the majority of individuals with autism naturally think in a more visual way, making art often unleashes a treasure trove of creativity and self-expression.
When growing up, the school art room continues to provide the perfect environment for students to cultivate their individual sense of inventiveness and imagination.
In particular, young children on the autism spectrum, exhibit a passion that is fuelled by natural artistic ability that flourishes and stretches as their minds develop.
Research has shown that not only do arts therapies improve social skills and engagement, but active participation in community arts programs can enhance inclusion, self-confidence and communication.
Opened in June 1974, Peterhouse School based in Southport, is a non-maintained Specialist School for children and young people aged 5 to 19 who have a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Condition
Its Mission Statement is to “provide a specialist environment which is flexible and responsive in fulfilling the academic, social, emotional and physical potential of all our young people, equipping them with the skills, knowledge and understanding to be a successful adult with autism”.
The Ofsted inspection in 2009 concluded: “Staff welcome pupils as equals and each day cross many bridges together. As one member of staff put it, ‘We don’t expect the pupils to cross each bridge on their own. We meet them over half way and walk back with them’”.
Since the outset, the enterprise has earned many plaudits, including the Arts Council’s ArtsMark Gold Standard in recognition of its commitment to art education and has previously welcomed visits from HRH Princess Alexandra and former Prime Minister, Harold Wilson.
The March 2023 Challenge Partners report acknowledges that “every pupil coming into the school has a personalised warm welcome that reflects the deep, trusting relationships being built at Peterhouse” and went on to recount “as one pupil explained, ‘the support from staff isn’t just in class, it’s for life in general’”.
The school has gone on to achieve a number of quality marks, including the Wellbeing Award for Schools, the Leading Parent Partnership Award and Career Mark, which recognises excellence in careers, employability and enterprise. Peterhouse is also a Trinity Champion Centre, demonstrating the school’s commitment to using the Arts to make a positive difference to the lives of pupils.
Head of School, Calvin Wallace, confirms: “Peterhouse School strives to ensure that the Arts are embedded into our core as part of a whole school teaching, learning and enrichment philosophy. The school Arts curriculum provides opportunity to explore topics creatively whilst providing a vehicle for successful learning. Creativity and independent learning is embedded and deepened over time to support students to be motivated to think, act and pursue creativity.”
Co-Director of Southport Contemporary Arts, Norrie Beswick-Calvert, is keen to support the School’s initiative at the ArtHouse:
“We are delighted to host the annual art show from the students of Peterhouse School. Although this is the first time Peterhouse students have shown their work at ArtHouse, it is not the first time we have hosted a student show and indeed it is something that we would like all schools to consider.
We feel it is invaluable for youngsters to gain an opportunity to show their creative work to the wider community in which they live and we feel it serves to enhance the students’ sense of achievement and confidence in their abilities.
In the specific case of Peterhouse, a school funded by Autism Initiatives, we are really looking forward to seeing the creative approach that the students have taken to their projects”.
Certainly not one to be missed, this ambitious showing, Creativity at Peterhouse: A Visual Journey will be on display at the ArtHouse, Eastbank Street, Southport from 13th – 24th February 2024. The gallery is open Tuesday – Friday 10.00-15.00. Saturday 11.00-16.00.