Completed-An Arts Council England Funded Project .

Project Title: A Pilot Evaluation of Creative Circus Skills Workshops on KS2 pupil wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic 2021.

Executive Summary

  • KS2 pupils from 5 socio-economically disadvantaged primary schools accessed a series of six creative, arts-based, circus-skills workshops
  • There was initial indication of an increase in children’s wellbeing scores approaching a statistically significant level after, as compared to before the workshops
  • 99% of children reported that they enjoyed the workshop series and learnt new things
  • 83% of children expressed that the workshops helped them develop their confidence – “It was fun and helped me get my confidence back” (KS2 pupil)
  • 80% of children said that the workshops helped them get on with others – “It brought me closer to people so I can have more friends” (KS2 pupil)
  • 99% of children would recommend the workshops to others – “It is the best thing I’ve done in school”

Future research would be needed to extend upon pilot findings to evaluate the impact of circus skills workshops compared to a control group. Circus Berzercus sees many opportunities in combining the creative arts with therapeutic principles to support the emotional wellbeing of socio-economically disadvantaged children following the COVID-19 pandemic. This project will enable us to further develop a new Circus4Wellbeing program, following on from the pilot success of “Circus in a Day” and reach and support more children in need. It will also provide an opportunity for ourselves and other creative artists to move beyond a pilot stage in demonstrating the impact and value of their work through a controlled research trial. We have applied for ACE funding and hopefully begin early 2022.

“Circus Berzercus is providing a high quality service to schools which is being received and acknowledged by schools and educationalists as both beneficial and inspirational.” Steve Kibble, Devon County Advisor for PE

We have been running circus skills workshops together now since 1996. We work with children in Primary and Secondary Schools, EYRS, KS1-3 classes through to young adult drama groups (and everyone else in between!) Our circus workshops are COVID19-secure. We carry our own PPE and enough equipment so that children do not have to share. All of our workshop leaders are professional entertainers, so you could have a show during assembly to start your circus day, followed by fun, circus skill sessions with each class. Each instructor can teach up to 7 classes in one day.

Circus Berzercus provide the circus workshops and shows across the South West at events. You will find us running circus skill workshops and great family entertainment at Exmouth Festival, Flambards Circus Week, The Sidmouth Folk Festival and many other events across the South West. Our team carry their own PPE and sanitising products to clean equipment before and after workshops.

We are mindful of the fact that we are often dealing with a wide range of abilities and different learning styles.

Our approach is based on breaking skills down into their component parts and trying to convey that through effort and repetition, progress is inevitable…..regardless of the starting point.

We believe that developing coordination and dexterity can have a big impact on a child’s well being developing confidence and self esteem.

Circus skills promote intense concentration, spatial awareness, retained reflexes and a sense of rhythm and anticipation.

Skills offered in all workshops: Juggling, Flower stick, Hula hooping, Peacock feather balancing, Diablo, plate spinning, balancing, scarf/poi (dependent on space and age)


Wire walking, diabolo, club swinging, ribbon dancing, basic acrobatics/human pyramid, hand-held stilts, unicycling.
On request: Hat manipulation, clowning, presentation skills (these will be available during arts weeks/longer periods of training). We can make equipment available to purchase at competitive prices. Always available are feathers, plates, scarves and bean bags, other equipment may be available subject to special order.

“Students who learn to juggle find other skills easier to acquire, partially because of improved reflexes and hand/eye coordination, and partly because they have learned how to learn.” Dave Finnigan, “The Complete Juggler”


The key to enhanced self esteem is the realisation of one’s self worth, and nothing brings this home better than praise and applause from peers and adults.

Crossing the mid line of your body helps build pathways in the brain.

Organising Your Workshop We recognise that every school is different and we pride ourselves on our ability to adapt to your specific requirements. However, here are some suggested formats and things to think about.

  • Each workshop leader can manage one class of children (max 32)
  • We would request that the teacher/classroom assistant is present.
  • It is possible, with a large enough space and two workshop leaders to take a group of up to 50 people
    at one time.
  • If there are two workable spaces we could take 60 – 70 (i.e. two classes) at one time.
  • Obviously it is preferable to have two of us running a class because tuition can be more personal.


Reception classes can have short structured play sessions lasting up to 30 minutes.
Key stage 1 from 45 – 60-minutes.
Key stage 2 from 50 – 60-minutes.
Key stage 3 and upwards 1 ½ hours to all day session

Arts weeks or a longer series of sessions – where the children become performers:

When we run an arts week project or take only one or two classes for a day, it is possible to have a presentation for friends and family at the end of the day/last day.

We provide a backdrop, lights and a sound system and host the performance by the workshop participants.

The performance is a great confidence builder and gives the children an opportunity to shine and show off their newly learned skills. Any children who did not want to perform could work as front of house, backstage/technical crew so that no one is left out