Annie Kinchington – art and craft
Purposeful and caring environment promotes learning, and sustained focus of students is beyond what might be expected to be achieved,’ is the accolade Annie Kinchington, WEA tutor, received when she was graded outstanding in a recent lesson observation.
Annie’s specialism is using her many art and craft skills to work with adults with learning disabilities. She has worked with the WEA 101 Branch in Leicester for 7 years. Her imaginative approach to planning projects and tasks, coupled with her enthusiasm and bubbly personality, have meant that many students across the City have been able to produce a wide range of artefacts, at the same time developing confidence and self esteem.
Annie explains that what makes her approach so special is that she always ensures that, ‘A mutual respect is clearly demonstrated between tutor and students. Treating people as equals is paramount.’
One of Annie’s strengths is empathy. ‘When working with individuals to develop their needs and interests, I encourage people to step out of their comfort zone a little bit. This is always done within a supportive environment.’
Annie adds, ‘I challenge and stretch students to do something they might have been worried about doing, as often people in those groups are. Everyone has very varying abilities – each person is supported individually and work is differentiated, providing specific challenges where necessary.’
‘Celebrating skills which perhaps the students don’t think are important, such as communication and supporting other students in their peer group’, are key features of all Annie’s sessions, too.
Annie’s observation confirms that she also has essential team leadership skills. ‘Excellent management of community partner support staff to ensure students are challenged and receive all the help they need within each session.’
Over the last couple of years Annie’s work for the WEA 101 Branch has been with community partner Leicester City Community Care Team at several central sites. Workrooms and corridors are always welcoming places in which to work. Annie ensures the students’ latest work is displayed on the walls. Students also welcome every opportunity to take home items to share with families, such as bags, books and scrapbooks.
Annie’s art and craft sessions celebrate the diversity of the City: multi-cultural aspects and religions. Others are topical such as the Olympics in 2012. ‘In conjunction with Fosse Arts, Annie’s students used the theme of diversity to produce artwork to display in a number of venues for the Leicester based special Needs Olympics in 2011.
Student feedback certainly supports Annie’s sessions: ‘I love it!’ ‘I enjoyed it!’ ‘You looked after me didn’t you?’