Written by Ron Noon at 10:36 on Tuesday, November 03rd 2009
“It’s just over two years since our film Love Lane Lives was shown at the Tate Liverpool and the two best things that have happened since our sugar project gathered that momentum and publicity has been our association and involvement with two wonderful schools and their respective teachers and pupils. Trinity Catholic Primary school close to the original refinery site, and Hillside High School a little further away in Bootle, have demonstrated the remarkably creative work and insights into the world of sugar that primary and secondary school children can build into their education and community experiences.”
The blog is reproduced in its entirety below but I want to emphasise having recently visited the school before the half term, just how much superbly creative work is still on display in the entrance to the school and along its corridors. Leon and I have unfinished business in putting together the Trinity film which we know will be well worth the wait. The wonderful Trinity children and their teachers deserve nothing less. Hillside’s excellent teachers and pupils also deserve the best and indeed they used their own “amateur” film makers to record the weeks events. In addition to the children’s efforts, two excellent professional film makers were brought in from outside and I’m sure from what I’ve seen of the footage of the music sessions with Ian Prowse that it will be a fantastic film record of an exceptional week in the life of a school that just oozes character and excellence.
Specialist Week 2009
“What a week! Pupils and staff have had a really exciting week discovering how sugar has helped shape Liverpool. Pupils visited the Tate Gallery (originally funded by Henry Tate from Tate & Lyle) and the International Slavery Museum Year 8 and 9 pupils visited the Royal Court theatre to watch a performance of Willy Russell’s “Our Day Out”. Year 7 pupils watched the film version of “Our Day Out” on the big screen in school. Older pupils watched episodes of Alan Bleasdale’s “Boys From The Blackstuff” and saw the demolition of the Tate & Lyle Love Lane refinery.
Pupils linked these performances to the social climate of the time of the refinery closure and wrote campaign letters and slogans to the government to try and keep the factory open. Alan Bleasdale was so pleased that we were using his work that he sent a personal letter of support to the school. Roger McGough, Liverpool’s most famous poet, and a Tate & Lyle old boy, also sent an e-mail to the pupils giving his support.
In science pupils looked at the chemical structure of sugar and made models of glucose molecules. They also discovered the negative effects of sugar on our health and our teeth. The school nurses gave very informative talks to pupils about the hidden sugars in our food. Did you know that a bottle of fizzy drink contains over 11 heaped teaspoons of sugar?
Our art department looked at sugar crystals under the microscope and helped pupils to recreate the effects using silk painting, collage, inks and other media. We had a visiting artist in residence, Vinnie Cleghorne, who worked with small groups of pupils to build big pieces of sculpture and wall hangings based around sugar and Tate & Lyle.
The performing arts department focused on slavery and its links to sugar and Liverpool. The music department looked at music from the Caribbean Islands and pupils really enjoyed playing the steel pans.
We were very lucky to have a visit from a Liverpool musician, Ian Prowse. Ian’s band, Amsterdam, have played at many venues across the country and Ian himself has played with Elvis Costello and the Icicle Works to name just two. He worked with our music teacher Gerry Harrison and the year 10 GCSE music group to compose a song about the closure of the Tate & Lyle refinery. Pupils used their experiences from watching “Boys From The Blackstuff” to gain ideas of the atmosphere around Liverpool at the time. Watch out Billy Bragg!
Pupils in food technology were very lucky to have a visit from a retired sugar boiler from Tate & Lyle. Bobby Austin, who is now 85 years old, spent the day with us and talked to pupils and staff about his experiences in the sugar industry. His knowledge is quite amazing; he has worked all over the world and told us tales from China, Swaziland, Iran and America.
A special thanks must go to Ron Noon from Liverpool John Moores University for his unstinting help in getting Specialist Week up and running. Ron is passionate about sugar and is a world authority on Tate & Lyle and the sugar industry. lovelanelives.com is the website Ron has created about the Tate & Lyle refinery closure and is a must for anyone with links to the old factory. Ron worked with staff and pupils to enthuse them and to help create the exciting activities that went on around school. It was great working with the university and Ron brought in colleagues and ex-students to pass on their expertise. Our pupils really enjoyed this opportunity and we hope to develop the links between Hillside and LJMU even further in the near future.”