Back Mapping at Swalwell Primary School

A year ago we visited Swalwell Primary School in to do some mapping with their year 6 class. We returned again this year and Mike recorded some of this reflections:

I am surprised how many of the official sights on the Walk map the year 6 pupils have visited as we start with a run down: Great North Museum, Baltic, St James Park, but the number of hands going up falters as we hit historic monuments. I jab a hole in the Walk map to mark a favourite spot. The hole is bigger than I’d intended, so we can hold it up, face to face. Smiles on their faces, we peep through the hole. The map is suddenly so much more interesting

We start off by colouring in OS maps of around Swalwell to obscure unloved places or highlight what is special. One girl obliterates much of a map under a wall of bronze Sharpie but intricately traces a pink route around Swalwell’s roads. From her house to her nan’s and her friends. A boy crosses out St James Park: he is an Arsenal supporter. The Hoppings on the Town Moor are a particularly common element.


Next we draw individual doodle maps . Home is usually the centre, radiating out via family and pets to a mixture of holiday destinations and electronic games. Brands logos and treasured posessions jostle with pets and relatives for space. Scale and time are largely forgotten. In one case home is the map, with precise sofas and sitting arrangements as well as several aquaria.

Swalwell-school-july-2017029.jpgFinally we set out to produce big maps, four or five youngsters chipping in, now crawling across the table tops. We focus on the school with very particular calibration of where the little ones are, the hard seats in the school hall for lunch and various menu top tens.

Put all the maps together and the sheer buzz, possibilities and boundaries of being 10 would shine through

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