Carousel Action Research

Round and Round You Turn Me – An Action Research Project from RA Projects on Vimeo.


Carousel has a strong capacity and expertise for R&D and our proven commitment to researching and developing practice helps sustain our culture of continual improvement and allows us to be responsive. Within this, we have multiple collaborative relationships with local and national EY providers and strategy organisations (eg Children’s Centres and Early Arts).

Since our launch in 2011, we have also developed a positive collaborative relationship with University of Exeter’s (UoE) Graduate School of Education (via Dr Kerry Chappell & the Centre for Creativity, Sustainability and Educational Futures colleagues and students).

The CenCSE Research Group is involved in a range of national and international collaborations investigating creativity in education in all its forms, and aims to bring knowledge and understanding from this to its work with Carousel. Dr Chappell and CenCSE colleagues are continually involved with other academics, practitioners and policy makers with co-participative methods a key feature of their research-driven academic group.

Recently this relationship has led to Kerry co-authoring a peer-reviewed academic article from the Round and Round You Turn Me project (full details below) with Carousel team members, Lizzie Swinford, Tamsin Pender and Katherine Ford:

Chappell, K., Ford, K., Pender, T. & Swinford, L. (2016) Making and being made: wise humanising creativity in interdisciplinary early years arts education. International Journal of Early Years Education. DOI:10.1080/09669760.2016.1162704

International Journal of Early Years Education

International Journal of Early Years Education

The link will take you to the journal website where you can buy a copy of the article OR we have available a limited number of free downloads – if you would like to request use of one please contact Katherine Ford or Kerry Chappell.

Kerry comments “I first became involved with Carousel in 2011 as a mum attending sessions with my children. I then gradually became involved professionally and now facilitate Carousel’s collaborative action research strand which is increasingly embedded within Carousel sessions. Working together, we’ve been able to make connections between Carousel practice and a number of standout themes in the early years arts literature. In the peer-reviewed article, we’ve been able to use these to help articulate what Carousel does in a way that is actively informed by current theoretical and empirical research. We also hope to be able to gradually inform current theoretical thinking through our findings.”

‘Playing with Circles’ – Summer 2012

In the summer of 2012, artists from the Carousel Project worked with Stoke Hill Nursery School on an action research project exploring creative approaches to arts based learning. Three artists worked with the children and early years practitioners, once a week for 6 weeks. Their theme was circles. This short film is intended to highlight findings from the action research project and you can find our more here

Playing With Circles – An Action Research Project from RA Projects on Vimeo.

Findings from the research – link to pdf downloads

What is the Carousel approach?

What are the children getting out of it?

What are the children getting out of it

The researchers were: Catherine Cartwright (Carousel Printmaker, Double Elephant Print Workshop), Dr Kerry Chappell (University of Exeter Lecturer), the children (Stoke Hill Nursery School), Stuart Dawson (Carousel Film-maker), Clare Farion (Stoke Hill Nursery School Early Years practitioner), Katherine Ford (Carousel Director), Tamsin Pender (Carousel Visual Artist), Gill Richmond (Stoke Hill Nursery School Early Years practitioner), Lizzie Swinford (Carousel Dance Artist).

We would like to thank the children and parents of Stoke Hill Nursery who took part in the action research.

Tamsin Pender presented the outcomes of the research in a practice-based session at the Unconference.

Kerry Chappell and Lizzie Swinford are also writing the following chapter which focuses on the Dance element of this project, coupled with findings and thinking from Kerry and Lizzie’s own practice and writing:

Chappell, K. & Swinford, L. (in press). Artful humanising play: Improvisation in Early Years dance. In V. Midgelow (Ed). Oxford University Handbook of Dance Improvisation. [due to be published in 2016].

Carousel artists studying on MEd Professional Studies

In 2013, Carousel artists, Lizzie Swinford and Tamsin Pender began studying on the part time (blended learning) MEd Professional Studies course at UoE.  Their studies include Action Research and Creativity and the Arts modules.

‘Round and Round You Turn Me’ – Sep 2013 – Aug 2014

Round & Round You Turn Me‘, our latest research project, was funded by Arts Council England, Exeter City Council & Devon County Council. Over autumn 2013 & 2014 we worked in partnership with the University of Exeter.

We collaboratively researched two questions: ‘how does creative arts practice effectively support Early Years children’s development?’ and ‘how is wise humanising creativity manifested within early years interdisciplinary arts education? 

3 Carousel artists created and delivered six mini projects, each project
 spanning a six-weeks. They worked with over 100 children and their parents/carers, ranging in age from 4 months+  to 70 years+.  The research has been disseminated at the British Educational Research Conference 2014 at the Institute of Education in London and via this short film.

Round and Round You Turn Me – An Action Research Project from RA Projects on Vimeo.

Find out more about the project, including evaluation, here

The findings have been shared via:

Research Association Conference 2014 at the Institute of Education in London