YSP Learning’s past projects

YSP has an outstanding record of engaging groups often excluded from arts and culture. We continue to develop and deliver new projects, and here you can learn more about our past projects. With our unique focus on art, landscape, nature connectedness and heritage, YSP provides opportunities to create meaningful and nurturing experiences for people of all ages.

We work to reach less engaged communities through a range of thoughtful interventions and activities. We continue to explore ways to support wellbeing and nature connectedness through our project work and embed learning in our wider programme. We are curious about how the layers of art, environment and experiences at YSP interact to create opportunities for connection. We also seek to embed learning from this work in our programme and approaches to continually evolve.

Our funded projects enable us to work with artists, researchers or evaluators to develop and create new projects and events. YSP Learning also engages in special projects in partnership with schools. This work has fed into the continued development of our formal offer for schools and educational groups. It also helps us to continue to learn, grow and develop as an organisation.

Past Projects with schools

Challenge Yorkshire

In summer 2015, Yorkshire Sculpture Park was selected as a cultural partner for the Challenge Yorkshire Cultural Learning programme, managed by IVE (formerly Cape UK). The project supported schools and creative organisations across the region to work in partnership on a piece of action research around creative teaching and learning.

YSP was chosen as cultural partner by Pentland Infant & Nursery School, a small school situated in Savile Town in Dewsbury, just a few miles from the Park.  The project wanted to explore how children could be encouraged to question, to become more curious about the world and how this could support speaking and listening, leading to improved attainment in writing. The project was planned to identify how the outdoors, and exposure to a wider cultural experience, could enhance children’s thinking and communication skills. 

Artist-led sessions, at YSP and in school, used visual and performing arts to take children on a creative learning journey, exploring character, storytelling and specific language learning within the Key Stage 1 and Foundation Stage curriculum. Reception and Year 2 children worked with a storyteller, visual artist and dancer over three terms; creating puppets, developing their own sculpture trail in school, becoming moving sculptures themselves and imaginary adventurers inspired by our exhibitions. 

This work opened the curriculum and the arts beyond what was thought to be possible. Being involved enthused and empowered staff to teach in different ways. The project has contributed to the development of YSP’s schools programme. It helped us find ways to link our exhibitions and outdoor resources more closely to the curriculum. The project was a powerful testimony of the value of outdoor and creative learning on children’s attainment in school and development of the whole child. 

‘At the beginning of this research, we had no idea what a a transformational affect this work would have on our families and community.’ - Headteacher

In school, the arts and cultural institutions are seen as a learning vehicle. The potential they hold in their own right is often overlooked. More than providing an enrichment opportunity through a visit, these spaces can provide children with experiences and knowledge to develop their skills across the whole curriculum. M project has widened the community’s appreciation of the arts and their access to a range of cultural opportunities. YSP welcomed over 150 children and parents to celebration days, including performances, bug hunts, sculpture building and nature trails in 2017, showing the value of family engagement in supporting creative learning and attainment in school.

‘We have unlocked doors to new experiences and it appears they are widening by the day, for the benefit of all our children and families.’ - Headteacher


Spark was a funded project which allowed us to work with selected schools in socio-economically deprived areas, providing two days with an artist-educator at YSP and one day in school. Over six years we worked with 90 schools in Wakefield and other Local Authorities and over 2,400 pupils. The project introduced children and teaching staff to creative ways of looking at art through interactive activities which encouraged personal interpretations of sculpture and sharing of ideas. Creative engagement with art and nature helped pupils explore their own personal stories as well as open up debate about world issues. Over three days pupils investigated a vast array of materials and techniques through indoor and outdoor making activities, experiencing clay, carving, collaborative drawing and paper sculpture. 

‘My children asked so many questions and were fascinated by everything they saw, heard and touched. Awe and wonder was achieved. Their memories of the project will stay with them for a long time.’ - Teacher, Feversham Primary


Ignite was a YSP outreach programme for schools. Schools from Wakefield, Barnsley, Leeds, Kirklees and Calderdale to worked directly with artists both inside and outside of the classroom. Ignite was an enquiry-focused programme which modelled ways in which creative activity could support cross-curricular learning both at YSP and in school settings. Artistic practice was at the heart of this process and Ignite aimed to inspire and invigorate teaching and learning through engaging with artists’ own practice within the context of YSP.  

In 2015 and 2016 we worked with three artists to develop and deliver this project. This included sculptor Sarah Jane Palmer, musician Dominic Moore and digital artist and dancer, Wayne Sables. Working with over 20 schools, Ignite projects were tailored to the needs of participating schools and schemes of work. Pupils made films as part of the Science curriculum, inflatable sculpture linking to Key Stage 3 Maths and plaster-casting to link with a dinosaur project in Reception. Previous years’ projects involved multi-media artist Hardeep Sahota working with schools to experiment with drawing, light painting, performance and sculpture. This strand involved work with Wakefield schools from Foundation Stage to Year 10. 

‘Thank you for a brilliant day! The staff and children have enjoyed a unique experience and it has helped us realise how you can stretch the boundaries of art.’ - Ignite teacher

the Ignite Teaching Resource

A group of young children kneeling on grass, pressing stamps onto paper.

Projects with adults and community groups

Leap of Faith

‘If we realise by ourselves how strong we are, then others will realise.’ - Leap of Faith participant

Leap of Faith was a pioneering project that took place at YSP. It explored ways in which women who had experienced trafficking, domestic violence or mental ill health could use creative expression and equine assisted therapy to benefit their wellbeing and creativity.

This work responded to contemporary artist Katrina Palmer’s The Coffin Jump (2018) – a major co-commission by 14-18 NOW, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary, and YSP. Leap of Faith brought together participants from two local authority areas that border the Park, in partnership with Ashiana Sheffield and WomenCentre Kirklees and Calderdale. We also had support from Glint (Horse Assisted Development).

Leap of Faith aimed to help participants gain the confidence to express themselves, to develop positive relationships, and to build positive new memories. Activity included creative sessions devised by the participants themselves in conjunction with artists as well as equine therapy, which has been found to enhance positive behaviour and wellness. Further therapeutic support is provided by group analyst Jacinta Kent, and opportunities for reflection and evaluation were offered by Dr Harriet Rowley, Lecturer in Education and Community at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Subject to Change

Subject to Change was a partnership project with South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust's Creative Minds programme. It was open to adults of working age with lived experience of mental ill health, living in Wakefield or Kirklees.This artist led project combined creative activities with sociable lunches. Activities respond to the interests of the group – perhaps upcycling, drawing, making, sculpting, painting, with plenty of opportunity for breaks and refreshments. Fortnightly sessions offered regular opportunities to develop friendships, try new things and get to know the art and landscape of YSP.

‘Coming here is helping me so much. I can feel the difference. I’m more optimistic about my future. I’ve learned I can do new things and I’m interested in things again.’ - Subject to Change participant

‘I look forward to coming here so much. It gives my mind focus and a sense of calm.’ - Subject to Change participant

Subject to Change launched in 2017 and offered two monthly sessions led by a professional artist. The sessions included lunch and a walk to look at sculpture in the landscape and galleries. This was followed by creative activities to respond to what we discovered. We explored processes like textiles, drawing and painting, sculpture and sound recording.

‘While I have been coming to the group, I have found the support and creativity, linked with the stunning location, help me find my voice. ’ - Subject to Change participant

Walk and Play YSP!

Visiting artists Idit Nathan and Helen Stratford invited visitors to join them to explore YSP through walking and playing. This interactive journey around YSP encouraged participants to experience and engage with the Park in fresh, imaginative and even mischievous ways. Walk & Play YSP! followed in the wake of extensive research on how we interact with spaces we inhabit using props, prompts and games. ‘Walkshops’ were specifically designed to evoke memories and stories about play, walking and art. Ideas from participants were central to the development of the artwork, which the artists hope will inspire others to Walk & Play YSP! You can see sculptures created as a part of this around the lower lake.

Group of people submitting forms from clipboards.

Learn along with YSP

Explore our thoughtful resources, packed full of creativity, talking points and ideas to get everybody thinking.