a visit to Lillian de Lissa Children’s Centre

This is reposted from Louisa Penfold’s PhD blog Art. Play. Children. Pedagogy.

We live in a world of great cultural, social and political diversity. Recent politically-motivated attacks have led to increasing concern, fear and distrust between members of our community. Yet the central pillar of a democratic society lies in a nation’s ability to value the richness of diversity and to allow its citizens to express their beliefs and opinions through various means.

Within an early years education setting, designing for flexibility allows children to encounter educational experiences from diverse levels of knowledge, backgrounds and interests. This then paves the way for the possibility of collaborative learning, understanding, respect and friendship between people.


This week I spent two days at the Lillian de Lissa Children’s Centre in Birmingham (UK) working alongside their artist-in-residence, Lorna Rose. 90% of the children attending the nursery are from an ethnic minority, over half speak English as a second language and among the 90 children in attendance, 28 languages are spoken. The ultimate goal of the nursery is for the children to leave with a sense of curiosity about the world.

Lorna has been working as the ‘atelierista’ (an artist who works in an education setting) at the centre for over 10 years. This post features an interview with Lorna in which she discusses her approach towards designing creative experiences for children – one that is built upon child-centred practice, flexibility and collaborative reflection.

Further Information

Bragg, S & Manchester, H 2011, Creativity, School Ethos and the Creative Partnerships Programme Final Report, The Open University , UK.
Lorna Rose website (2016), http://lornarose.co.uk, viewed March 16 2016.
Plant, S (2009). A Celebration: Creative Childhood Project 2009-2010. Lillian de Lissa and Belgravia Children’s Centre, Birmingham, UK.
Rose, L 2009, Strength in Diversity, EYE – Early Years Educator, Vo. 11 (1), pp. 36038.
Rose, L & Carlin, A 2011, action creativity – working with boys in ‘.’ In: Elkington, R (ed.) Turning pupils onto learning: Creative classrooms Routledge, Oxon. pp. 39-51.
Thomson, P & Rose, L 2010. ‘When only the visual will do.’ In: Thomson, P & Sefton-Green J (eds.) Researching Creative Learning: Methods and Issues. Routledge. Oxon.
Thomson, P & Rose, L 2011. ‘Creative Learning in an Inner-city Primary School (England).’ In: Wrigley, T; Thomson, P & Lingard, B. Changing Schools – Alternative ways to make a world of difference, Routledge, Oxon.
Vecci, V (2010). Art and Creativity in Reggio Emilia: Exploring the Role and Potential of Ateliers in Early Childhood Education, Routledge, London.

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