School trip funding: We received a £4,800 grant to take pupils to a West End show

London headteacher Ruby Nasser received funding from the John Lyons Charity to take her pupils to the theatre

Our one-form entry primary school is just a short distance away from King’s Cross, but most of our children had never visited the West End. We serve a very deprived area, with a higher than average proportion of children eligible for Free School Meals. Our pupils are predominantly drawn from the Bangladeshi and Somali communities and more than 96 per cent speak English as an additional language. There are so many demands on our limited budget that we would never be able to pay for the children to have this kind of cultural enrichment without funding support. Yet we knew this experience would be transformational, so we applied to the John Lyon’s Charity, which supports schools around London in prioritising arts education, and had previously funded parent learning classes at our family centre.

I applied for a grant of £4,800 which would enable us to take every child in the school to the theatre. The application was straightforward to complete online and took only 20 minutes of my time. It actually took longer to book the shows once we heard we had been successful! I felt that the John Lyon’s Charity had clearly thought about how it could best support schools, because sometimes you can spend many hours on a grant application, only to be told you haven’t got it.

It was incredible to see our children out and about in the West End, particularly after the lack of experiences we could provide in lockdown. The youngest went to see Frozen, Years 2, 3 and 4 went to The Lion King and Years 5 and 6 went to Wicked. They had never seen anything like these shows before and they were awestruck. During one scene in Wicked, children who had struggled to show emotion since returning to school were jumping out of their seats in excitement. It was magical!

We wanted to make use of these experiences and so we dedicated a whole half-term of learning to language enrichment and the arts, with each group preparing for a community performance related to the show they had seen. We tapped into the sense of wonder the children had got from the shows to inspire and motivate them through richly layered activities around music, writing, art and performance.

The children wrote their own scripts based on the story they had seen. They also learned about lighting and scenery to see what special effects they could bring to their performance and they made all the costumes and props. They really pushed themselves, leading to far higher learning outcomes than we would normally see.

We invited parents and community neighbours into our new school hall for the performances and they couldn’t believe what they were seeing. It was a joyous occasion and we are incredibly grateful to the John Lyon’s Charity for this gift to our children.

  • Ruby Nasser, headteacher, Edith Neville Primary School, King’s Cross, London (196 pupils)

Further inspiration

Join FundEd to access our database featuring over £14m of grants for schools