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‘Aspiration Alley’ paves the way for pupils at Pencoed Comprehensive School

Credit: Pencoed Comprehensive School

A bland, grey corridor, nestled between the business and art departments at Pencoed Comprehensive School, has been transformed into an inspiring space through an artistic collaboration between pupils and local graffiti artist, Tee2 Sugars.

Along the corridor, now aptly named ‘Aspiration Alley’, the iconic faces of Anita Roddick, Aneurin Bevan, groundbreaking Mexican artist, Friday Kahlo, and others, are on display as shining examples of what can be achieved in the wider world outside of school, if learners aim high.

The artwork also challenges stereotypes and glass ceilings through the vibrant imagery of Wonder Woman, the Black Panther, and female director, Greta Gerwig.  Tee said: “One purpose of the artwork is to encourage the pupils to start a conversation, to raise questions.”  Art lead at the school, Shelley Davies, supports this idea.

Shelley explains that the area is used as a means to complement, enrich, and enhance the curriculum; to encourage a dialogue between learners about the themes explored in class.  She said: “The figures within Aspiration Alley are ones which we use in our schemes of learning and the space has become an extension to our classrooms.”

“It was important that the pupils had a space which reflected what it is to be a learner in Wales in the 21st Century.  Hopefully, by creating spaces that reflect the pupils and the world they live in, we are helping to develop the next generation of creative practitioners and entrepreneurs.”

Through introducing colour and culture to the environment, Tee also hopes to inspire learners to choose creative routes; to illustrate that these paths are accessible.  He said: “School is the start of our art careers. I believe every child deserves to be in an environment that is filled with creativity and imagination.”

One pupil said of the space: “It’s beyond my expectations. It is very thought provoking – displaying many figures to inspire us. It makes me proud that I was part of it.”  With the success of the initiative, Headteacher, Edward Jones, plans to incorporate more of Tee’s graffiti art throughout areas of the school to continue to uplift and inspire pupils.

Built in the 1970s, the exterior and interior design of Pencoed Comprehensive School is typical of that time, particularly with grey, dreary décor throughout.

The way in which the pupils and staff, in collaboration with Tee, have taken ownership of the space within the school, proves that our power lies in doing what we can with what we have. Although those involved in the project were unable to alter the building itself, they have been able to change the interior to positively impact the learners.

What a wonderful initiative! I look forward to seeing how graffiti art will continue to permeate throughout the school, influencing staff and pupils alike! Well done all!

Councillor Jon-Paul Blundell, the Cabinet Member for Education