Schools Programme

CAST provides an ambitious programme of creative learning for primary schools in Helston, on the Lizard peninsula and in other nearby villages.

A magnifying glass
Children sit around tables in a classroom decorated with foliage
Pupils from Breage Primary School at an Art Lab session in 2019

CAST provides ambitious creative learning workshops for primary schools – a programme of half-day or full-day ‘Arts Lab’ workshops – all of which involve active learning across a range of disciplines, as well as hands-on activity. The workshops take place in CAST’s dedicated learning studio and black box screening space. The opening of a ceramic studio at CAST in 2022 added new possibilities.

The ongoing programme of Art Lab workshops was developed by CAST’s learning team, led by artist educator Lucy Grant, with the generous support of the Garcia Family Foundation.

If your school would like to participate in future sessions please get in touch.

The first Art Lab, piloted in June 2019, explored the story of The (Surprisingly) Adventurous Rhododendron from the perspective of Victorian botanist Joseph Dalton Hooker, whose expeditions to the Himalayan regions of north India and Nepal led to the collection of rhododendron seeds that were later planted in many English gardens, including the great gardens of Cornwall. This Art Lab involves an exciting immersive installation in the black box space as well as opportunities to undertake observational painting and drawing in the learning studio.

In October 2021, following the pandemic, CAST welcomed schools back into the building with a workshop entitled Chromacopia. This Art Lab introduced the science behind colour perception, the role colour plays in nature and the value and power of colour in communication and art throughout history. A film about colour and the origins of pigments was screened in the learning studio and children mixed their own paints with pigments and egg binder.

In May 2022, an Art Lab programme for schools was developed to explore the creative practice of CAST studio holder Nicola Bealing. Nicola’s vibrant narrative paintings were the inspiration for the sessions, which included a display of objects and images relating to her childhood and travels presented in the black box space, a studio visit in which children could examine her work and ask questions, and time to create their own paintings in the learning studio.

In November 2022 a new Art Lab was created in collaboration with the ceramics studio at CAST, also involving a partnership with the Museum of Cornish Life. These sessions took as their starting point the Museum’s collection of fragments of Neolithic pottery, made from gabbroic clay, a material unique to the Lizard peninsula. Pupils visited the museum to learn about the collection and worked together to make their own ‘Neolithic’ vessels in the learning studio, before moving to the ceramics studio to experiment with samples of gabbroic clay and to try throwing vessels on a wheel, supervised by studio artists.

In March 2023, with support from the Behrens Foundation, CAST developed an Art Lab exploring light and shadow. Taking advantage of the complete darkness in the black box screening space, this workshop investigates light and shadow in relation to both astronomy and storytelling. An orrery was constructed to show the rotations of the earth and moon, and of the earth in relation to the sun, and the workshop also included the screening of a folk shadow play that linked myth and legend to the eternal exchange of light and dark. Children were able to make and animate their own puppets or dress up to make silhouettes and perform to other members of the class behind a simple hanging screen in the black box space.

As well as our Art Lab programme, CAST offers a series of outdoor creative workshops designed to develop creative learning and engagement through observation, drawing and making. CAST-Off was initially developed as a holiday activity programme for families during the pandemic in 2020 and has been running every year since as a key part of CAST’s summer offer. CAST-Off for schools takes place at National Trust Penrose, offering pupils an opportunity to explore the woods and lakeside by the river Cober as well as doing activities in the Walled Garden.

Teachers whose classes have participated in CAST’s schools workshops have offered the following feedback:

I was amazed at how prepared and resourced the team were, and the knowledge they brought to the sessions was so valuable to both the children and staff. Each activity was exciting and engaging and it was so lovely to see the children showing off their artistic and creative skills in such a different environment to school. We could never have given the children the same experiences as you did. (CAST-Off for Schools)

The fun and energy of the facilitators coupled with the absolutely stunning array of props and equipment for the children to use were incredibly enticing, leading to a magical experience during which the children’s growing understanding of light, dark and shadows was really embedded. (Light and Shadow)

The workshop was great at catering for our art curriculum in year 4. All staff involved in the workshop were clearly talented in their area and skilled at instilling their passion for the subjects in the children. The activities were perfectly paced to keep all children engaged and all children loved everything they attempted and created. […] It was an amazing opportunity to make links to our local history objectives and the video showing where Gabbroic pottery comes from helped children understand the locality. (Gabbroic Pottery workshops)

Children who participated in the workshops said the following:

Art and History was so much fun at CAST today – I wish we could learn like this everyday!

I’d completely forgotten that this was a school day – I only realised when I looked up and saw that we’re all wearing our uniforms!

I told my parents that as we weren’t at school today we wouldn’t be doing any proper learning, but now I realise we’ve been learning loads all day!


CAST’s learning programme is currently supported by the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.