Flash of Splendour

Flash of Splendour (FOS) is a pioneering educational outreach organisation, based in Oxford, with extensive expertise working with children and young people with autism.They are particularly experienced in collaborating with universities to enable new and diverse young audiences to engage with academic research and complex literary and historical material. Using innovative methodology and new pedagogical approaches, they enable students to understand, enjoy and interpret cultural forms, ideas and texts, which would normally be closed to them. In their programmes, children and young people with SEND develop new transferable academic and creative skills, and a profound sense of self-confidence and self- empowerment.

Anne Louise Avery

Anne Louise Avery is a writer, art historian and co-founder and director of the children’s educational outreach organisation Flash of Splendour.  Anne Louise led the successful application for our Heritage Lottery grant, having previously run two major Heritage Lottery projects with a strong focus on inclusivity – addressing Oxford's links to the history of the Atlantic slave trade with the Museum of Oxford and the Oxfordshire Museum (2007-9), and exploring the life and work of 17th century poet Michael Drayton, with the University of Exeter and the Royal Geographical Society (2014-2016). She is also the European editor of the literary travel journal, Panorama, which aims to expand diversity within travel, cartographic and place-centred writing. She has written two books inspired by North Sea Crossings, a bestselling retelling of the Flemish Reynard the Fox (Bodleian Publishing, 2020) and A Fox for All Seasons (Bodleian Publishing, 2021), a further collection of short stories from the French branch of the beast epic.

Steve Pratley

Steve Pratley is a musician, story-teller and Director of Education at Flash of Splendour. He is responsible for all aspects of education provision, running workshops and developing and overseeing complex projects. Steve has developed and delivered many Flash of Splendour projects including the Children’s Poly-Olbion, in collaboration with the University of Exeter, the Royal Geographical Society and SEND schools across the South-West. He has worked with young people with SEND for 30 years, teaching in schools, colleges and other educational settings, alongside parents and families, respite care homes and in the community. He is also co-founder of the nationwide music charity Soundabout, with whom he has worked for twenty years as a Special Education consultant. He has delivered workshops and courses to over 250 schools across the UK and has a particular interest in training teachers and professional educators. With Anne Louise Avery, he is in charge of our outreach education programme for North Sea Crossings, working closely with the education team at the Bodleian Libraries and with Aardman Animations. 



Innovative outreach is at the heart of North Sea Crossings – collaborative, practical outreach with ambitious aims for accessibility and audience engagement.Through our in-person and online activities, we hope to provide an inspiring template for future heritage initiatives based within academia or academic libraries. 

One of the main aims of North Sea Crossings has been to explore and reinterpret Anglo-Dutch literary history with children and young people with SEND, and to channel their insights and ideas and creativity into a new short animation film based on the Flemish tales of Reynard the Fox – very much child-led and child-produced, but deeply rooted in the rich research of the scholarly side of the project.

Over the past three years, we have run a series of creative storytelling workshops with the SEND outreach specialists Flash of Splendour (FOS),  based at participating schools – Ormerod Base at the Marlborough School in Woodstock and Kingsweston School in Bristol – and intensive, practical animation workshops in collaboration with Aardman Animations, at their main studios in Bristol and, latterly, online. 

At the Ormerod Base, for example, a specialist unit for secondary-level SEND students, we worked over a long period of time,  providing over 200 individual sessions. Closely advised by Ad Putter and Sjoerd Levelt, we began by exploring the history and culture of the Low Countries – an overview of languages, geography, topography, art and folk tales. Then, as Anne Louise Avery worked on her new retelling of Reynard the Fox for the project, the pupils became the first to hear the retold tales, which they used as a springboard for their own stories and creative film ideas.

The series of film-making workshops at Aardman were run in parallel to the in-school sessions. Final-year Bristol Film and Television undergraduates also joined the team,  working with Aardman as an industry placement, fine-tuning their own craft, whilst providing one-to-one mentorship of the SEND pupils, fostering dynamic relationships which became a highlight of the project, demonstrably changing lives. 

Pupils were guided through the complex process of creating a film, from first ideas to post-production. After trying out multiple forms of animation – Silhouettes, Paper Cut-Outs, Stop-Motion with Objects, it was decided that puppetry would be the best approach for the final film, enabling all students to take part equally and their ideas for the film to be most fully realised. We commissioned the award-winning puppeteer Katie Elspeth Williams to make four puppets,  each a character from Reynard the Fox – King Noble the Lion, Isengrim the Wolf, Bruin the Bear and Reynard himself. Final shooting begins at Bristol in Spring 2022 and the film will be showcased online later that year.


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