Ariel's Sessional Facilitator, Caitlin, talks about the processes of adapting delivery during the pandemic:

"When the first lockdown hit in March 2020 many of our planned sessions in schools had to be cancelled. We lost contact with lots of children suddenly and immediately, sometimes half way through learning about some pretty tough stuff.

For the Liverpool Schools Grassing or Grooming project, we decided to plan for all possibilities. I worked with my colleague and fellow facilitator to develop some online workshops, imagining the young people would watch from the classroom. When lockdown came again in January this year, a lot of schools were thrown in at the deep end and this made delivery really difficult. So, we quickly adapted and worked out a way that all the pupils could join me and their teacher in a low-pressure online drama lesson from home.

The Grassing or Grooming module has some quite difficult subject matter in it, but using characters and role play means the children can engage with it in a safe way – a good deal of time is spent playing drama games too.

This is something I’ve had a lot of practice with over the past year as I have jumped from room to Zoom on a regular basis with the various theatre companies I work with. One of mine and the kids’ favourites is a game where the players find objects starting with a certain letter from somewhere in their house; and another where the facilitator quickly shouts instructions including ‘spin around’ ‘do a silly dance’ and ‘hide!’ which means the children all disappear from their little Zoom boxes, hiding away from the camera. Another game gets them dressing up with random objects from their house or striking a pose in order to look like a video game or book cover that is being described. Having their own mini zoom screen frame actually helps the young people and their friends to see each other performing and having fun.

Simply playing games online may seem silly, but the moments where the children are laughing and dancing around are the best; and when these can be connected to the characters and action in the Grassing or Grooming story - that’s when the children make some fantastic realisations. We’ve managed to talk about what makes someone powerful or not, how we sometimes look one way on the outside and feel differently inside, what real friendship is and how we can say what we’re really feeling.

We are now reaching week 5 of 6 with one school on the Liverpool project and looking forward to starting with two new schools after half term, that’s at least 50 more pupils! We will also keep adapting as we go along, taking our lead from the fantastic young people and teachers we meet".