Drama, Art, Music, Movement and Makaton!

Rhia T
10th July 2017

Signing cat


Founded in 2006, we are an award-winning social enterprise based in North London. Our workshops integrate drama, art, music and movement and are firmly based in the therapeutic application of the arts. Our programmes are aimed at improving oracy and literacy skills, developing confidence and encouraging a passion for children’s literature.

We run targeted workshops for children of all ages with English as an additional language (EAL), speech language and communication needs (SLCN), special educational needs (SEN) but also cater for well-known clients such as the London Transport Museum, V&A Museum of Childhood and the Museum of London.

From working closely with Hackney Speech and Language Therapy Team on our award winning Speak Out project we found that if we not only integrate art mediums but also integrate communication strategies, such as Makaton, children with a diverse range of needs have more of an opportunity to connect to our workshops. So now we use Makaton and visual timetables in most of our sessions.

Makaton signing lends itself perfectly to interactive storytelling and also to our specially written action songs for children. The songs are written by director Amy Bicât and musician Antony Elvin to help children who are in the first stages of learning. We get very positive feedback from parents/ carers, who see a marked difference in their child’s engagement and communication because of our songs.

“He really loved [the songs]… it was the first time I’d really seen him following instructions…. He really likes all the lyrics and doing the actions… “ parent of 2 year old attending Artburst Minis.

Boy signing Another example of when, where, why and how we use Makaton is in our partnership with the SEN department at the Museum of London.

Over the past two years, Artburst have been working closely with the museum to deliver a series of projects which aim to inspire creativity and help to build the communication skills for SEN students of a range of ages (from primary to sixth form) and with widely differing needs.

We have worked with over 120 students to create unique shadow puppet and live action films inspired by the Museum of London’s collections. Using Makaton within these sessions allowed all the children, including those who were non-verbal, to participate in the project by sharing ideas, working collaboratively, engaging in story building and in gaining the confidence to perform live in front of the camera.

School staff commented on the quality of our Shadow Stories from the Streets of London project:

  • “Staff used Makaton and basic language to communicate with students. It was paced at students' level as well as differentiated to higher ability students.”
  • “[T}he team had a real understanding of working with SEN. They were flexible and understood our teaching pressures. I would thoroughly recommend the quality of service and would be happy be call it outstanding.”

We offer Makaton Foundation Workshops to our facilitators to enable them to feel confident in developing relationships with children, understanding a range of diverse needs, and communicating workshop structure effectively. We feel becoming Makaton Friendly will be a fantastic way of showcasing our commitment to being accessible to all families.

We are a member of The Communication Trust in recognition of the impact our workshops have for children with SLCN and have won the SLCN Innovation Award at the Shine a Light Awards 2013/14.

If you are interested in finding out more about the projects we offer, want to volunteer or just fancy a bit more information, visit the Artburst website, email info@artburst.co.uk or phone 07435 788 190. We look forward to hearing from you!

At work

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1 Comment

  • dawn gale
    28 September 2017 12:36

    this is a great thing