Virtual school project reaches for the stars

Children and young people of our Virtual School are to take part in a new project inspired by the night sky.

Cromford-based production company Adverse Camber has joined forces with the Virtual School and secured around £40,000 in funding to launch the Stars and Stories project.

The initiative, backed by money from Arts Council England and endorsed by Tim Peake - the British astronaut who joined the crew of the International Space Station − will also involve space writer and astronomer Nick Spall, a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, and professional storyteller and writer Maria Whatton.

We set up the Virtual School in 2014 to help children in care and care leavers in the county who face barriers to mainstream schooling to receive education.

Throughout the year, Stars and Stories will involve them, their support workers and foster carers in storytelling and stargazing sessions across the county, teaching them about astronomy and studying constellations and planets with the help of a mini mobile planetarium funded by the Royal Astronomical Society and the Co-operative Community Dividend Fund.

One of the highlights of the project will be the young people giving a Stars and Stories performance at Derbyshire's internationally-renowned Wirksworth Arts Festival in September.

Our Cabinet Member for Young People, Alex Dale said:

"This is a wonderfully inventive way of teaching children about space, by making it fun and interactive, and combining it with science fact and storytelling myth.

"Performing at the Wirksworth Festival will also be a great opportunity for those young people taking part in the project. It will give them the chance to show not only what they have learned about the subject but how it has inspired them and given them greater confidence."

The project also has financial support from Tesco's Bags of Help scheme, Foundation Derbyshire, the Walbrook Trust and a bursary from the National Space Centre in Leicester to fund a group visit there.

Project producer Jan Reynolds said:

"We're delighted that such a wide range of organisations have supported these young people's ideas and helped to make the project possible."

Stars and Stories will run until November 2018.

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