Making direct contact between students in the UK and at Sparrow is at the heart of Sparrow Schools Foundation’s work.

Many schools have been involved in these links and the ability of the young people to empathise and learn through volunteering, tours, and fundraising has been proven again and again.

Remembering Sparrow Art Circle...

Sparrow Art Circle was founded by Melanie Heneke Eliot in early 2004 in the long tradition of women’s making circles. Inspiration came from a dear friend in Melanie’s homeland of South Africa, whose circle had met regularly over many years to create wonderful, collectable dolls. Their sale had raised substantial sums for children’s charities. Each Friday morning the Art Circle gathered in Melanie’s kitchen for many years. The group aimed to re-discover and develop artistic skills through mutual support and advice and in this convivial atmosphere (and over a lot of coffee) various strengths emerged, ranging from painting on fabric, watercolour, drawing, and print-making to knitting, baking and container planting.

Melanie’s Kitchen
Claire Batten, Karin Hackett, Melanie Eliot

Members worked individually and on Art Circle projects to produce work which was sold (together with beadwork from the Sparrow Job Creation scheme) in aid of Sparrow Schools. Where possible, recycled, collected and donated materials were used. The artists were supported by friends and family who contributed craft work from far away as South Africa and Australia and tirelessly wove drying lines all over the kitchen to cope with the increasing output of the printmakers!

Melanie’s work had a particularly South African charm and helped a great deal in communicating the work of Sparrow. She also took great pleasure in the direct contact she had with the young people when they joined her for a printing workshop during their 2004 choir tour. The children spent a morning designing, cutting and printing individual Christmas cards to take with them as a souvenir from the Art Circle back to South Africa.

Jill Clark and Melanie Eliot
Lois McDonald by Peter McDonald

The Art Circle continued for several years and, remarkably, raised over £10,000. A number of prints remain on Sparrow Schools’ walls as a cheerful reminder of the special contribution made by the group. The circle also designed ten striking programme covers for Sparrow’s Celebration of Christmas. These were based on designs in the Art Circle archive and new work specially created for the cover by Melanie, Karin Hackett and Lois McDonald.

Very sadly Melanie and Lois died in 2015 and Sparrow Schools and Sparrow Schools Foundation would like to express their sympathy to their families and to pay tribute to the contribution they and the Art Circle made to the lives of South African children.

Drumworks hit Sparrow again

In August 2014 Alwyn Laudat Wade and Kenny Mukendi, who has just graduated from Morpeth School, returned to Sparrow to help imbed the Drumworks programme introduced on earlier visits. Alwyn and Kenny spent two weeks running workshops with learners and teachers. They held 30 minute crash courses, selecting learners who showed potential and interest with the assistance of their teachers who made approvals based on behaviour. They also had workshops with the music teachers responsible for carrying the programme through once they had left.

The introduction of the modern pan and rubber stick art was received with great enthusiasm by the Sparrow teachers aware of the benefits.

The learner’s progress in key areas such as memory, cognitive function, motor skills and social skills like self-discipline is already noticeable” Tristan Paton, Head Psychologist, Sparrow therapy team.


Tudor Hall

Tudor Hall started an annual Sparrow School visit in February 2011 as part of their Tudor in Three Continents initiative, promoting a culture of involvement and giving back whilst exposing its students to the world. These students spent time at The Foundation School both as teachers’ assistants and painting snakes and ladders and hopscotch in the playground and bright murals in one of the therapy rooms. Rani Tandon, the then Deputy Head at Tudor Hall, carried out teacher’s evaluation and training throughout the week, assisting the educators in implementing practical remedial teaching methods.

The following schools have supported Sparrow and welcomed them on sport, music or drama tours:

  • Alleyn’s School
  • Ashcroft Technology Academy
  • Bonneville Primary School
  • Brambletye School
  • Broomwood Hall
  • Burdett Coutts Primary School
  • Charterhouse School
  • City of London School for Boys
  • Clifton College
  • Cranleigh School
  • Dulwich College
  • Dulwich College Junior School
  • Dulwich Prep London
  • Eaton House The Manor
  • Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ Prep School
  • Haileybury School
  • Hornsby House
  • James Allen’s Girls’ School
  • John Cabot Academy
  • King’s College Junior School, Wimbledon
  • Macaulay Church of England Primary School
  • Morpeth School
  • Peckham Rye Primary School
  • St Edward’s College, Liverpool
  • St John’s School Leatherhead
  • St Michael’s Otford, Kent
  • The Dragon School
  • Tonbridge School
  • Tudor Hall School
  • Watford Girls’ Grammar School
  • Wellington College
  • Westminster School
  • Westminster Under School