Canning Vale College

​STREAM 1 – 2016

The Project

Established in 2004, Canning Vale College has approximately 1700 students enrolled from Year 7 to Year 12.  The College offers a wide variety of curriculum and co-curriculum opportunities including, the highly-regarded Extension Circus Arts program and Circus Troupe.  In 2016, the College was selected, for a second term, as a Western Australian Department of Education Teacher Development School in the Arts to provide curriculum leadership and support to schools within its network.
This AiR Grants Program project engaged 61 students from the College’s specialist circus program, many of whom were identified as being at educational risk.  The project titled This Circus Beat (a circus extravaganza with a construction site twist!) was considered the perfect creative learning opportunity to offer an already specialist group.  Not only did it extend the College’s existing program but it broadened the students’ dance, drama, music, physical education, STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) and English knowledge, skills and abilities.
Working with artists Ken Allen and his Junkadelic band, Joe Bolton’s Suitcase Circus, and supporting artists Morgan Scarfe of Ricochet Circus and Swing Zing's Jethro Hardinge, Canning Vale College developed a program in which students devised their own narrative for the performance.  Students wrote, produced and performed their own songs; created and played musical instruments made from recycled materials; strengthened their existing circus skills in clowning, diabolo, juggling, slapstick and storytelling; and worked together to build each other’s confidence.
“We had a great time developing the concept of the show with the students and providing them with opportunities to try out different styles of percussion and different instruments.  The use of ‘junk instruments’ worked well with the circus/construction theme.  The students learnt a new approach to circus – where they incorporated and added music and percussion performance to their circus skill set.” Ken Allen, Lead Artist - Junkadelic
Prior to the project commencement, College staff noted that most students were more comfortable working as solo performers.  Many students had little experience creating music, improvising and performing.  By the end of the project, the students had successfully collaborated to perform an ensemble work.  Many performed their own percussion songs live on stage and all had significantly developed a character for live performance before large audiences.
The troupe performed This Circus Beat at several schools within the network including Campbell, Wilson, Huntingdale, Excelsior, Canning Vale and Medina Primary Schools. The troupe also performed to students from Lancelin Primary School and to VIPs, family and friends in the College’s performing arts centre.
This Circus Beat was performed at many primary schools within the area and in country locations. The feedback I have had from these schools is that the students learned a lot about incorporating circus with ‘self-designed’ musical instruments, songs and costumes to make a lasting performance. Teachers from these schools have made enquiries about how they could incorporate these techniques in their own schools in the future…” Mr Ron Banford, former Principal, Canning Vale College Acquittal 
 “Opportunities such as the AiR grant have provided this team with an experience that will set them well for ongoing work within their performing arts classes; work with the circus troupe but also within the community where these students are continuing to show their strengths and commitment.”
Ms Erin Roberts, Head of Learning Area – Arts, Canning Vale College Acquittal 
“Canning Vale College is one of the most inclusive, modern thinking schools I have come across.  The students have a wide degree of acceptance and have created a strong community aspect to their education.  I think every school could learn something from the CVC circus program.” 
Morgan Scarfe, Supporting Artist -Richochet Circus
Visit the AiR project archive to read more about other projects completed in 2016.

Canning Vale College
Principal: Mr Peter Rudrum (Mr Ron Bramford was Principal during the AiR project delivery period)
Tel: (08) 9334 9000
School profile available at

AiR Project Coordinator:  Ms Crystle Challinger

Lead artist:

Ken Allen
Creative Director
The Funk Factory and Junkadelic
Tel: 0439 452 293
Web:   /

Supporting artists:

Joe Bolton
Suitcase Circus
Tel: (08) 0433 958 558

Morgan Scarfe
Ricochet Circus

Jethro Hardinge
Swing Zing

Read more about Ken Allen and Junkadelic's past AiR projects here.