What’s Happened to Art in Schools?

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It has been put to me by two head teachers in the last few months: why don’t you run some CPD training for Primary Schools in the area?

When the curriculum and expectations changed a few years ago, many schools quite understandably panicked and went to the extreme teaching double Maths, double English, with extra Science and more writing.  Not every school, but being in the supply world, I saw it as did my supply colleagues.  I have heard comments from friends that their child has hardly touched a paintbrush since year 1, such is education at the moment, but things are changing: the wider curriculum is back on Ofsted’s radar.

Since the second head teacher said it, I have begun to think more seriously about supporting teachers with Art in their classroom.  I am no stranger going into schools to teach Art straight to the pupils, usually covering PPA whilst at the same time delivering quality Art lessons, and I understand the challenges of working as a Primary School teacher.  Perhaps the next step is to train teachers directly on how to implement Art effectively into the curriculum, how best to evidence progression of Art (sketchbooks by the way), and how to properly use materials and teach the fundamentals in art (I hardly ever see colour theory work apart from the odd bit of ‘hot and cold colours’ when there is so much more to it than that).

Colour wheels
Colour wheels and complementary colours with Paintbox at The Mill Arts Centre, Banbury

I’ve been thinking how best to help schools.  Should I create some courses that last between 2 hours and a day?  Maybe I could demonstrate how to effectively use sketchbooks in schools.  Share what Ofsted will be looking for from September 2019 (when I find out their secret expectations).

What about the teachers who hate teaching Art in the same way I really don’t like teaching French?  How can they be helped?  I wonder if they really have time to keep practising skills and going to training… would it be more helpful for them to see short videos explaining the basic skills of fundamentals like colour wheels, and how to use materials such as charcoal?  I know lots of you will say charcoal is easy, but have you ever thought to use a chamois leather, a clean and dry paintbrush, rubber, and NO SMUDGING WITH FINGERS?  When you know how, using those tools is far more effective than drawing with charcoal sticks and smudging with increasingly grubby digits.  

Stages of portraits cropped

If you have any thoughts on this, especially if you are in Primary Education or part of an Art company who works with schools, please leave your responses in the comments below.  Your thoughts on how I can best help will be much appreciated.  If you think my skills could be useful to you (whether a school or art company), please just ask.

I am happy to help.

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