A PROJECT to help troubled or vulnerable schoolchildren has opened a third art centre in Oxford.

The Art Room was set up at Oxford School in 2002 with just £200 in the kitty, with the aim of giving youngsters a chance to develop through art projects away from mainstream lessons.

A second art room in Rose Hill Primary School was set up in January 2008, and on Saturday a third room was opened at Orchard Meadow Primary School in Blackbird Leys.

Founder and director Juli Beattie said: “We're absolutely delighted.

“If we can do a little bit to make schooling easier and help these children then that is fantastic.

“Some children have come to us as non-readers and are now able to read, other children who were withdrawn and anxious have been able to stand up in assembly and talk.”

Each site sees about 200 children a week, for one or two sessions, and youngsters attend for anything between a term or three or four terms.

As well as pupils from the schools where the art rooms are based, children from three other primary schools use the site at Oxford School.

Youngsters from three further primaries and Oxford Academy will use the Orchard Meadow centre. Each school contributes to the cost.

Children can be referred by parents or themselves, via their school.

Oxford East MP Andrew Smith officially opened the facility and joined children who use the art room as they decorated picture frames.

Mrs Beattie said it was remarkable how quickly a difference could be seen in children when they started “art as therapy” sessions.

She said: “If a child feels they have self-esteem, self-confidence and self-worth, they will be able to engage back into the academic world.

“The Art Room is a small, safe, calm environment where even the most vulnerable, challenging child can engage.

“We have won awards for our work and had work up in the Tate Gallery and the Ashmolean.”

For more information, see the project's website.