Schools flock to join The Big Hoot

Date published: 30 October 2023

When The Big Hoot swoops into Chichester and Arundel next summer, the whole community will be involved. As part of the public art trail, staged as a collaboration of local charity Chestnut Tree House and Wild in Art, local artists will design and paint the owl statues, with businesses from the area providing sponsorship. Many thousands of people will engage with the art trail while the owls are on display. 

As part of the trail, schools will engage with The Little Hoot, a learner programme which will see them fundraise and decorate their own miniature owl statues. Rob Angell is Assistant Principal of Chichester Free School (CFS), who were the first to sign up. “This is such a fantastic opportunity to get involved with the charity and our local community,” he says. “It will inspire our young people to feel more connected to their environment, learn more about their local community and understand the needs of the people within it.”

CFS is an all-through school, with learners aged four to 16. The school’s values, “nurture, challenge and inspire,” are exemplified through this project.

“By participating in The Little Hoot, I hope the pupils will learn more about themselves,” says Rob. “And of course, we want to engage their creativity, empowering them to take pride in what they do and how they do it. I also hope that there will be opportunities to get to know some of the other organisations and schools involved, potentially building some careers links with local business, especially important for our secondary pupils.’ As well as encouraging creativity and communication, boosting opportunities to have fun with art and literacy, The Little Hoot will build bridges between the school and local artists. Through the connection with local children’s hospice Chestnut Tree House, it will also help pupils engage with important topics such as illness and bereavement.

Louise New, Executive Principal, added, “Chestnut Tree House has been one of our chosen charities over the past couple of years and the children have been raising money, so there’s already a sense of working with them and understanding what they do. We have experienced loss in the school, much more so over the past five years, and Chestnut Tree House is very close to our hearts.” 

For CFS, the most inspiring thing about the programme is experiencing the internal buzz around the school being part of such a major local cultural event – but, Rob adds, “For the pupils, I think the most engaging moment will be that final reveal of the complete owl statue and knowing that they are part of something. I’m looking forward to that.

“And the impact will continue through the money we raise and the focus on the good work that Chestnut Tree House does. That, I think, is something that will continue long beyond The Big Hoot.”

How your school or youth group can get involved

We’re on the lookout for Primary schools, pre-schools and secondary schools. As well as youth and sports groups. Find out about the Learner Programme for schools and youth groups

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