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Changing behaviour through creative collaboration at Patcham House

Students with communication and behavioural difficulties from Patcham House special school scripted, performed and produced a film called It’s A Dog’s Life, incorporating a series of clay animation films and historical live action drama.

Who was involved

  • Students and teachers from Patcham House, Brighton and Hove
  • Creative Practitioner: David Parker, film maker and visual artist
  • Others: RSPCA, Brighton Library, parents


How can we use performing and media arts with Year 9 to impact on their behaviour as collaborators and communicators?


  • To allow students to work on a theme of their choice, driven by the interests of the students and not directly related to the national curriculum topics
  • To involve parents and other members of the local community
  • To improve students’ behaviour, communication and collaboration skills, and self confidence


The project was led by the ideas and opinions of the young people. Students agreed that they wanted to focus on making a film about dogs – a common interest they shared.

Students, staff, parents and the creative practitioner discussed and explored ideas informally, usually in small groups and sometimes out walking, sometimes with dogs from the rescue centre and also with their own dogs.

Students developed creative skills in photography, film making, writing and making. They were encouraged to use these skills to reflect their feelings and views about animals, drawing attention to the work of the RSPCA and others in order to affect change.

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The project culminated in an exhibition and film screening at the Jubilee Library in Brighton which was open to the general public as well as invited guests.

All participants in this project, including teachers, were overwhelmingly positive about their experience and the outcomes of this project; one student describing a day as “the best ever”.