STAFF and pupils at a North-East school underlined the importance of communications skills after banning pens for the day.

Hurworth School, near Darlington, staged the “No Pens Day” to encourage creative thinking around classroom activities.

Pen-less lessons were organised and pupils faced special challenges to win sweets as a reward.

Loading article content

Anyone found with a pen was named and shamed.

Head of Art, Elysia Waller, arranged a class in which pupils tried to emulate the technique of contemporary artist Ian Cook, who creates artworks solely by painting with radio-controlled cars, car tyres and toy car wheels.

In Religious Studies, pupils were tasked with building places of worship out of different materials, while Design and Technology students constructed mini-bridges as well as forming the letters of the alphabet with their bodies.

In Maths, pupils took part in a “speed dating” session, in which they had a minute to discuss mathematical problems without using a pen. Maths Progress Leader, Ryan Elgie, also accepted a challenge to stand on his head.

Health and Social Care pupils took part in a role play exercise, while music students used “Boomwhackers” – musical tubes – to create rhythmical compositions.

Meanwhile, in the sports hall, the girls beat the boys in a “press-ups while yodelling” contest.

Other highlights included the Head of the Upper School, Ben Sutherland, doing a comical impression of Deputy Head Nick Lindsay, and Head of Year 7, Melanie Pitchford, performing an impromptu rap.

The event was organised by English Progress Leader, Gav Rathmell, and English teacher, Hayley Moohan, with pupils recruited as “Pen Police” to make sure no one was cheating.

Mr Rathmell said: “The idea was to make staff and pupils think more creatively about how they communicate and it was fantastic to see how it was embraced across the whole school.”

Miss Moohan added: “At Hurworth School, we like to test ourselves to come up with new ways of learning and the ‘No Pens Day’ really fired imaginations. It was great fun.”

“No Pen” Days are held in some schools to try to boost communication. Schools which took part in an event last year said more than 83 per cent raised their awareness of speech, language and communication needs, while 95 per cent said they would do things differently around school as a result of their involvement. A quarter identified pupils who were struggling with spoken language.