SCHOOLS in Herefordshire can access free online arts workshops to inspire learning and support pupils’ mental health, thanks to funding from the Edenstone Foundation.

The Foundation, funded by new homes being built by the Edenstone Group, has donated £1,800 to the Courtyard Centre for the Arts, in Hereford, to help provide a livestreaming service for primary schools and pupils who are unable to attend school.

Clare Wichbold, fundraising manager at the Courtyard Centre, says the money will pay for arts practitioners including authors, storytellers, visual artists, and stage combat experts to deliver the valuable distanced learning.

She explains: “Our education team works with schools across the county to provide access to learning and performances, from Shakespeare to Roald Dahl. When schools were closed during the pandemic, the team went online and offered digital workshops to children studying at home. The success of learning online has led to the continuation of those workshops through Facebook Live.”

The workshops are provided free to schools, who receive details of which workshop is happening and when, and how to log on.

The Courtyard, which offers drama, music, dance, visual arts, and cinema, also created workshops focused on wellbeing and keeping safe and healthy, during Children’s Mental Health Week earlier this year.

Clare adds: “Not every school is able to return to in-person participation at The Courtyard, or have members of the education team visit the school to do workshops as before.

“Through Facebook Live every primary school can share in the workshops and one class – or even the whole school – is able to join in the online learning. There are so many children still being affected by Covid and potentially off school, so Facebook Live is a great way for them to keep in touch and share in the fun with their classmates. It also saves on travel time and enables rural schools who wouldn’t be able to travel to Hereford to take part.”

Workshops funded by the Edenstone Foundation will take place until the end of the year, enabling pupils to learn about different aspects of arts and culture, and develop new skills to inspire them in their learning.

The Edenstone Foundation receives a proportion of the proceeds from every home sold by the Edenstone Group to support good causes. This includes properties sold by Edenstone Homes and Bluebell Homes at St Mary’s Garden Village in Ross on Wye.

Chris Edge, from Edenstone Foundation, says: “Children’s education is about far more than the academic subjects they study; it’s also about things like the arts and culture which widen young people’s interests and offering a more rounded learning experience.

“More than ever, after the effects of the pandemic, it is important that we protect children’s education and their wellbeing.

“It’s thanks to the success of our developments like St Mary’s Garden Village in Ross on Wye that we are able to support projects like this, and we are delighted to be able to help fund this really important work that The Courtyard is offering.”