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Teaching Things Differently is The Forge’s research-based teacher development programme, funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation, that explores how photography can be used to support children’s creative writing skills. Working in partnership with artists and seven North East schools, we have been exploring how photography and visual literacy approaches can be used to engage learners, support creativity and lead schools into a broader and more inclusive approach to teaching literacy. By equipping teachers with a range of new photography skills and an understanding of multiliteracy theory, we have been working together to develop new pedagogical approaches that build on the hidden visual literacies that children use in their daily lives.

When I show them a picture, it’s fully inclusive. It’s not like giving them a text where I have to differentiate the text, and the children know it’s differentiated and then that beats the whole thing of inclusion. If I show them a picture, then everyone is able to discuss it and we’re all on an equal playing field – and that’s what’s lovely.

(Some of our children)… almost dislike art because they think “I’m no good at drawing, “I can’t paint” and you know photography has given them that doorway into feeling like a successful artist as well as a creative writer.

When I talked to them, I asked, “Why do you enjoy this so much?”, “Cos there’s no wrong answers” and it really gives them that enthusiasm for English, which I think has continued throughout the year