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Art in Schools

June 2, 2016 / By: Katherine Bryan-Merrett No Comments.
The PVA Glue which holds us together
Our recent Arts Week programme for New Fosseway School in Bristol was a huge success with the Arts Teacher Elizabeth Parsingham commenting

“It all went well and everyone seemed delighted with all the workshops!! They managed to adapt all the activities to the needs of our pupils so well, no matter what the age or ability! They were extreemly good, professional and enthusiastic, and yes, the pupils loved it and certainly did have fun! Thank you so much”


Mask making at New Fosseway School

But it is a sad fact that arts provision is diminishing in our Primary Schools. In recent years the Government’s controversial English Baccalaureate places the priority firmly on the ‘core’ academic subjects of Mathematics, English and the Sciences. This stance has been a huge blow to art and design teachers everywhere. Not to mention the parents who believe that teaching art and design to their children is fundamental to development, confidence and knowledge about the wider world.
The delight of creating something, exploring techniques, investigating and being inspired by the great artists of our time is a not just a rite of passage. It is a right. Not to mention the divine pleasure of peeling PVA glue from your own fingers after an afternoon of intense papier-mâché sculpture.
It is widely recognised that an educational implementation of art, design and culture in primary schools improves self confidence and creativity in students.  Many teachers, parents and carers find additional ways to bridge the gap left by the current curriculum in the guise of after school clubs, weekend workshops and home-based craft projects. Teachers find additional pressure put on them to give up even more of their after school time to deliver arts clubs or provide support for programs such as the Arts Council Arts Award scheme. The Government’s 2014 ‘National curriculum and assessment from September 2014: information for schools’ doesn’t even list Art and Design in it’s subject breakdown. Referring professionals to the Arts Council resource database to allow them to utilise creative skills as a vehicle to deliver other subjects such as Mathematics and Science.

Birds of paradise mask workshop

Recent data from the Arts Teaching trade union NSEAD estimates that the UK’s creative industries are worth £84.1 billion to the UK economy. It is a sector which is growing twice the rate of the wider UK economy. It may be that the PVA glue peelers of a generation are now putting their creativity to use as the art industry shows them an attractive career path. Yet provision for art and design in primary schools for our own children remains worryingly low. It’s not just an exploration of Van Gogh or Jackson Pollock that they are missing out on. It’s the feeling of wild abandon which is experienced when creating something. A feeling which is under-nourished for our children in todays test filled and box ticking curriculum.
At SWAW we passionately believe in delivering diverse, interesting and engaging arts programmes for schools to ensure children are allowed to develop essential creative skills. We link local artists with schools to deliver Arts Weeks, after school clubs and supplement class projects.
Prices from £50 per session (£700 for a fourteen week programme).
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