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

Posted in Good News Bits

March 6th was a key day for me and for UK art, craft and design educators. I headed for London after spending a brilliant night (March 5th) in Huddersfield celebrating the work of young people from local primary schools. My friend and fellow Art advocate, Natalie Deane, has been instrumental in this and this link takes you a local newspaper article which highlights the event. First Light have been so important in this project. It is a national organisation which helps youngsters make their own films. It distributes National Lottery money through the British Film Institute.

The cinema was packed to the rafters with children, artists, families, teachers, head teachers, support staff and all. What an achievement.

Read more:
Huddersfield Examiner

So, back to the story: on March 6th, I went to the Westminster Education Forum in the morning, to hear the debates and the opinions around the proposed curriculums for both Music and Art. There seems to be a consensus of opinion that these lack rigour, progression, creative opportunities or any semblance of relevance to a 21st century curriculum. It is so important that you find time to take part in the public consultation. All the details are here: Consultation link
and you have until APRIL 16th to do this. I can not understand how anyone working in art education could possibly not take part in this.

If we want children to enjoy and grow within a compelling curriculum model then we must use our collective voices to say that. We must send in our responses with honesty and belief that there are surely better ways to construct a curriculum than this feeble attempt. It does not reflect what is happening in the world of art, craft and design education and is an insult to the intelligence of those who work in this subject specialism.

After the Westminster session, we gathered our forces together and headed for Portcullis House, an extension of the House of Commons, for the inaugural meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Art, Craft and Design Education. Our art educators outnumbered MPs and Lords somewhat but was quorate and , therefore, officially inaugurated through this first AGM. We have strong leadership in our chair, Sharon Hodgson MP. We also had a really good collection of creative and thoughtful people present, representing aspects of the subject in all phases of education. We also had representatives from galleries-because these are very important places for learning.

The first session was very much about identifying our purpose and our vision and how we can take this through parliamentary channels to develop the deabtes that we feel are very important at this point in time. There is no doubt that damage has been done to the structure of art, craft and design education through proposed curriculum changes from key stage 1 to Higher Education. Opportunities are being reduced, credibiluity is being questionned, hierarchies of subjects are appearing, voices with relevant and deep knowledge and understanding are being ignored.

I was very proud of my NSEAD colleagues and their thoughtful contributions to ‘setting the scene’ for those present. Lesley, Sophie, Peter, Ged, John and Marlene, all such great advocates and believers. Lesley and Sophie both carefully leading us forward through this complex educational landscape.

The meeting left everyone feeling confident that this group can make a difference. It gives us an opportunity to be the conduit for concerns and to feed back to those people at the heart of art, craft and design education.

You see, when I go and attend events like the one in Huddersfield, it just underlines for me the absolute importance of the Arts to children and learners of all ages. We have been singing, dancing, making, composing and creating since time began. Nothing can destroy that basic human urge to be creative. However, we seem to have a government hell bent on devaluing the Arts and an education system which is going to turn all our children into the Midwich Cuckoos.

I’m not going to sit back and let this happen and I hope that the continued support that we have had from those that actually work in (and know about) education continues. I am sure it will.



3357 days ago

very pleased you have this group going- reading the survey results on nsead webpage is depressing news. must all do that consultation. I work in ks2 and can see art being just for rainy days if this gioes ahead.

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