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Matt Baker, who received an honorary Master’s in Music from the University in 2019 for his outstanding contribution to the arts, joined academics from the University’s Faculty of Education and Children’s Services and from the Philip Barker Centre to develop creative sessions for students on a number of different Education programmes. Students have taken part in similar sessions with Matt in previous years, but this was the first year it has taken place online.

The online session for students was led by Matt and Dr Helen Eadon-Sinkinson, Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader for Education Studies in the Faculty of Education and Children's Services, and saw students and colleagues from the Faculty get to know each other through a series of team building activities.

Students attended from the BA Education Studies, BA Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, BA Early Childhood StudiesBA Primary Education Studies and BA Childhood and Youth Professional Studies programmes.

Helen decided to run the session after receiving positive feedback from students last year after they took part in immersive theatre workshops as a way of exploring Victorian classrooms and the social beliefs of the time.

The song included lines about the pandemic and being in lockdown – from baking cakes and growing vegetables through to their excitement about starting their new University programmes and their plans for the future.

Matt said: “Having enjoyed creating a song with the students in 2019, I was anxious about achieving the same goal with the restriction of only being online with the students. I was absolutely delighted with the students who fully engaged, enabling us to create two wonderful songs!”

Student Saffron Walshaw added: “I really enjoyed the creative/song session. I thought it was a fun and interactive way of welcoming all the new students and encouraging them to get to know each other in a more relaxed environment. It made it a lot more entertaining for us. I think it was a great addition to welcome week and it brightened my day...Also, it made me realise I should not pursue a career in singing!”

Helen said: “The feedback from these sessions was encouraging and the students explained how they enjoyed the different approach and how it helped them understand the topic and gave it context and meaning.

“In the online session with Matt, they explained what they had experienced and accomplished through lockdown before sharing their hopes and aspirations for their time at the University and beyond. Matt took these ideas and turned them into a song, which he performed for the students.

“I want to build on this throughout this year to make our online sessions personal, fun, interactive and memorable especially given the current situation. I see creativity in learning as a way of creating even greater cohesion amongst students and staff.”

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