The Cynefin Project

Cantonian High School.
Member of the Arts Council Wales, Cynefin Project.
Theme: Exploring Diversity in Wales
Teacher: Ella Farrell
Creative Practitioner: Donna Ali


Why did you want to run the Cynefin project at Cantonian High?
As a humanities teacher. I have found that pupils tend to learn about people from diverse backgrounds within a historical context. Within this, pupils tend to learn more about diverse communities overseas. This tends to be more in relation to their struggle than their achievements.
As well as learning more about the history of diverse communities in Wales. I wanted to provide pupils with opportunities to learn more about the experiences of diverse people in Wales today. I also wanted to provide pupils with a safe space to discuss their own experiences.
I also felt it was really important to involve my pupils in this project because it would allow pupils to access a variety of experiences outside a school environment.
Most pupils I teach would never have been able to access these experiences otherwise.


What have you been doing so far?
We began the project by discussing the idea of belonging and what it means to belong. In this. we were able to establish pupils’ individual experiences of belonging and their current understanding of diversity in Wales. We encouraged them to write down any questions they had. which we used as a baseline for our enquiry. The pupils were initially very drawn to the idea of using media to develop the project. so it was decided very early on that the pupils would create a website to showcase all they had learnt. This would include various articles written by the pupils and would be a platform to showcase a podcast created by the pupils. As we needed to provide pupils with a historical understanding of diversity in Wales. we invited the historian Abu Bakr in to school for a discussion and Q and A.
This helped the pupils to understand the long history of diverse communities in Wales. challenging their current perceptions. Many of the pupils were interested in learning more about the lack of inclusivity within the beauty industry.
The pupils have been researching different make up brands to write an article for the website. we also invited Joy from Afro Hair Academy in to talk to the pupils about her role and the importance of inclusivity in the Beauty industry, as well as an interview with Rachel Clarke, the granddaughter of Betty Campbell.


How have the pupils described their sense of belonging?
My favourite topic to teach currently is governance, which we chose as part of the new Welsh curriculum. This allows pupils to learn about politics, whilst exploring different forms of governance throughout history. I love teaching this because it exposes pupils to challenging ideas and provides them with opportunities to debate amongst themselves.


What do you hope to achieve by taking part in the project?
I hope that pupils will leave the project with a broader understanding of what it means to be a diverse person living in Wales. and the confidence to discuss ideas related to diversity. I also hope to provide pupils with a different kind of learning experience. where they were encouraged to be creative and think for themselves.