Welcome to the website of Susan M. Coles, Artist & Arts, Creativity & Educational Consultant.

About me

Hello and welcome…I don’t know if you found this page by accident or whether you were looking for me? I just need to start with a bit of a disclaimer. The points of view expressed on my web page and in my blog(s) are my own and are not necessarily the same as those of the many organisations that I work with.

And now, some information about myself and what I actually do. I am a self employed and independent educator, critical friend, adviser, consultant , and artist, who set up “Creative Ways”, an educational consultancy, in 2007, after a long and distinguished career in visual art and design education in the City of Sunderland. I have previously been a subject leader and faculty leader and AST.

My work remit now is very wide and varied and I still enjoy every single day. I have a passion for my subject and for education in general. Advocacy for Art, Craft and Design education is at the very heart of what I am all about. I work for individual schools (all phases) and Academies, Local Authorities, training companies, museums and galleries, national organisations, universities, initial teacher training courses, and whoever offers me the challenge of bringing the best out of people and situations. I work across the UK and internationally. I have been a keynote speaker/contributor at major Art Education events in the UK, Europe, Australia, Ireland, and Nigeria and worked across the United Kingdom as well as the world.

I can give Arts curriculum advice, share good practice, review and audit what already exists, develop new curriculum models which match relevant learning and the 2019 OFSTED framework, support with the understanding and use of data, develop a culture of learning which is inclusive to all pupils and which supports tackling the underachievement of boys (especially in art and design). I can deliver inset on creativity across the curriculum as well as specifically to the Arts. I can help you to explore your understanding of Cultural Capital too. My work on the underachievement of boys in the subject (and the lack of boys) is recognised as exemplary.

I am a visiting lecturer on the Art and Design PGCE at Northumbria University, Liverpool Hope University, Staffordshire University, and Birmingham City University. I have also lectured on the MA Artist Teacher Course at Northumbria, MA in Creative Practice at Northumbria, MA in Creative Practice at Leeds College of Art, and at Liverpool Hope University. I have also worked with SCITT students in County Durham, Leicester, Northumbria University and Leeds. I design and deliver the primary art network meetings for Durham EDS plus the in school advisory support for primary Art, and contribute to the secondary network meetings as well.

I write resources for schools and galleries and have had work published online and as part of major Arts and gallery projects. I have created resources for the BBC, for KAPOW primary resources and for many local and national projects. I have been involved in designing resources and teacher inset with a STEAM theme for the 2019 Leonardo 500 exhibitions in Sunderland, Sheffield and in Derby. I write for the NSEAD AD Magazine and for the Arts in Education newspaper. I have also co-written a paper which was published in the International Journal for Art and Design Education. I blog, but only when I find time (rarely).

I have delivered academic presentations and papers at the INSEA World Congresses in Australia, South Korea and Vancouver, Middle East and Africa AmSEA Conference, European Congresses in Canterbury (UK), Helsinki, symposiums in Thessaloniki (Greece) and Valletta (Malta) and at the IJade Annual Conference in both UK and Irish locations.

I run regular Art network meetings in a number of areas, in particular in the north east of England. In the north east we have the NEATEN group (North East Art Teacher Educator Group) which was set up in 2007 and works in partnership with Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art and other Arts organisations, NSEAD, and teachers and artists. NEATEN are winners of the Big Draw Award in 205 and again in 2016 (proud moments). I have been a facilitator and guest speaker at art teacher networks across the U.K. I offer advice on networking, design adult learning programmes and sessions and using social media. I advise and train in the setting up of networks, face to face and online, and in blended learning situations.

I have successfully designed and run digital media courses and classes for students, teachers (Art and non art staff) at City Learning Centres and in schools, since 2004. I have also managed social media projects for the Global Rainbow project (part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad) and for TEA- Thinking, Expression and Action project and will be leading a group looking at marketing and social media for InSEA (International Society for Learning through Art)
I design and run Arts workshops within schools (in a wide range of visual art forms) and have worked with the full age range, from reception class up to sixth form.

I also run school inset days on creativity and on the Arts and Culture, all phases. I have been the keynote speaker at regional art education events, Hampshire, Leeds, Plymouth, Surrey, Liverpool, Durham and beyond.

I design and deliver school assemblies (all ages) on the Creative and Cultural Industries. I have also delivered assemblies in conjunction with The Hatton Gallery in Newcastle and Tate Rooms (Ed Ruscha artists and Roy Litchenstein artist)

I am a Big Draw Associate. I designed and wrote the Big Draw online resources to support the BBC programme “The Big Painting Challenge”
I also co-facilitated the national TEA (Thinking, Expression, Action) drawing CPD programme, alongside Eileen Adams. TEA resources are at this link:”$”:
I have chaired two drawing symposiums for Big Draw, at the British Museum and at the Hepworth in Wakefield.
I have run Big Draw events locally, nationally and in South Korea and Vietnam. I have spoken about Big Draw nationally and internationally.

I am a proud Trustee of AccessArt and a co-director of Monkfish productions. These are both charities.

I can design and offer school based inset at a fraction of the cost that it would cost to send a group of teachers out of school to. My national training courses are hugely popular and successful (please see the Testimonials section).

I am also an experienced facilitator for middle management training, having been a consultant leader for the National College since 2004. I was a facilitator for Leading from the Middle from 2005 until the programme ended in 2011. I am also an accredited coach for the NPQH programme and have also been involved in coaching and training for the EHP programme. I coach trainee headteachers as part of the current NPQH programme in north east England. I also coach in schools independently and this can be one to one, or group coaching. I have coached on the Northern Rock Leadership programme. I have achieved level 2 OFAT training, in online facilitation, from the National College.

I design all of my adult learning insets using a recognised adult learning cycle structure and pride myself of the success and popularity of these.

I have successfully run a series of annual training sessions for NSEAD, on subject leadership, the underachievement of boys and using contemporary and conceptual art in the classroom. I have delivered a large number of online courses during lockdows with Paul Carney and many guest speakers.

I am a school governor and chair of Governors at Brighton Avenue Primary School, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear. I love that role.

I completed the M.A. in Fine Art and Education (with a distinction) at Northumbria University in 2009. The course is part of the NSEAD Artist Teacher Scheme and is a joint venture between the university and Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. Developing my own ideas for my own art work and also being immersed in research was a challenging but hugely satisfying experience. In my final year, my research focused on networks and in the use of social media to support this. This is something I am still pursuing as part of my own work.

I am active in the national subject association for Art and Design NSEAD, as a member of council, previous member of the executive Finances and General Purposes committee, member of the Professional Development Board and I also served as President. My current role is on Council as APPG co-ordinator (see below). It is both an honour and a pleasure to work with such dedicated people. Advocacy for individual subject areas is increasingly important and I will do whatever I can to promote art and design education, and the Arts in general. Being creative is the most exciting part of my life, and you can be creative in everything you do.

I joined the the World Council of InSEA in August 2017, as I had been elected as one of the European world councillors. I look forward very much to playing my part of the wider world stage.
I was re-elected for a second term of office on the World Council for 2019 to 2021. In 2022 I was elected to the prestigious role of Vice President.

I act as secretary to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Art, Craft and Design Education. The chair is Sharon Hodgson MP. TThis is an important role. You can read about our meetings and peruse papers etc at this link:”$“

My CV will give you a flavour of my past and current projects. Its becoming almost impossible to keep this updated!


What is it that drives me?

I have a deep love for the Arts and for education in general. I am more in love with people than in systems, but have understood the need to be pragmatic in understanding and valuing the link between both.

I really do believe that the most important thing in my work is to nurture and empower people. Asking questions is far more effective, in the long term, than giving answers. As a facilitator I think it is essential to listen to others, communicate clearly, check for understanding, summarise and draw together different ideas, think and act creatively, manage own and people’s feelings, encourage humour and respect, being well prepared but remaining flexible and showing passion and determination in the focus. It is also essential to have faith in the ability of all colleagues. Self reflection is important. I always need to step back and take stock of where I am with my own thoughts.

I feel quite strongly about being able to leave some impact in the world of education. Not just to have done my bit but to have encouraged others to do theirs.

Being a life long learner is also important to me. You just never know all there is to know! One of my coachees said to me recently that “I don’t yet know what it is that I don’t know” and that thought stays with me all the time.

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My Latest Work on Flickr