Room13 Researching Room13: Children as Co-researchers


Funder: FSSL Strategic Initiative Funding, UoB

Lead applicant: Dr Debbie Watson

Co-applicant: Dr Helen Manchester



Room13 Hareclive is located in the grounds of Hareclive Academy (Primary) in Hartcliffe, South Bristol. Room13 is an international network of independent art studios in countries including England, Scotland, India, Nepal and South Africa. Uniquely the Room 13 studios are run by children for children.  Room13 Hareclive is one of the oldest and most established studios in the world. I have been working with Room13 children (aged 9-11 years) and artists, a colleague in the Graduate School of Education, Dr Helen Manchester, and St Pauls Nursery and Children’s Centre to explore ways of enhancing research capabilities in order to enable children to narrate the experiences and skills they have gained in the studio.

Overall aim

To co-develop processes of participatory observation, note taking and curation using photographs and videos of children’s engagements with children and artists.

The project so far

We carried out five participatory workshops between May and July 2015 which involved children and adults together learning observation and documentation methods and researching what nursery aged children are learning and doing as well as what primary aged children in the Room13 studio are engaged in. We all kept research journals, took photos and planned activities between us. In particular the children identified how we could use ‘learning disposition’ words from the nursery.

We plan to develop these methods into techniques in the studio to possibly include a thinking question board that everyone contributes to; helping children tell ‘learning stories’ of their time in Room13 and conducting transition interviews with year 6 children to enable them to tell their story of engaging in Room13. All of this will involve collating photos, art works, stories and reflections from children, artists and researchers working together.

Next steps

We are exploring funding opportunities to extend this work and deepen understanding of how the arts contribute to children’s learning and wellbeing and how being engaged as co-researchers also enables better educational outcomes for children.

Visit the Room13 website:

Photos: Debbie Watson

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