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I can’t believe it’s that long since I wrote in this blog space and can only say that it’s been a really busy and happy time since then! I am slightly cheating with this entry though, as it will mainly consist of links to other blogs and stories. Sometimes people are doing a much better job than I am, and it’s good to share that.

So, January started with writing some resources for the BBC Big Painting Challenge, thanks to an invite from the Campaign for Drawing. All available online at this link,

I also wrote an evaluation of a splendid online resource produced by AccessArt (40 Artist Educator project) and I think it is an exceptional and important set of artist educator examplars, which needs to be shared as widely as possible. Please visit the link and pass this onto others.
I also urge art educators to join AccessArt- it’s a treasure box of resources, which will enhance your knowledge and your teaching.

Sheila and Paula from AccessArt attended our last APPG (All Party Parliamentary Group on Art, Craft and Design Education) meeting at the House of Commons, and it inspired this powerful and thought provoking blog and campaign:

That question, which parents should ask every Friday, is an important one,“What has my child made with their hands at school this week?”. What kind of an educational world do we live in where that isn’t important any more? I know many schools value the Arts, but too many others are talking the option of squeezing them out of the curriculum.

The success of the APPG itself, is beautifully summarised by Lesley Butterworth at this link, and I am determined to get this up and running again after the election on May 7th. WATCH THIS SPACE.

On the subject of blogs, one of my highlights of 2015 was my visit to Hanoi for the Big Draw events, organised by Allison Cargill at BIS

Allison has created a detailed account of this in her blog for the Big Draw website and the link is here for you to read all about our

I have stored up great memories of my visit, and I thoroughly enjoyed every second of it, especially meeting the students and working with the teachers and TAs in our two practical workshops. I think that Allison’s achievements with promoting Big Draw at her school are memorable, inspiring, and an example to all. She was an excellent host, and so too was BIS Hanoi. I got a warm welcome wherever I went. The school assembly, where classes shared their Big Draw work, was impressive and enjoyable. A true public celebration of drawing.

I spoke about assessing without levels at the Birmingham A4Mat meeting, and at the Sheffield Arts Teacher network in January and February. It seems that the majority of schools have not progressed to creating viable systems for this, and many are still using levels.I find the lack of imagination in such an open and creative option quite sad. We have moaned for years about levels, levels are now gone and people are limping along…..with levels.

We had our second moreTEA Sketchbook Circle Exhibition and workshop day at the Gerald Moore Gallery in London, in February. All 75 places were sold out! The workshops faciliated by Georgia Naish, Louise Wisdom, James Nairne, Elisa Irwin, Louise Clazey and myself were enthusiastically enjoyed by a great mix of art educators, who had come from as far afield as Cornwall and Northumberland. Our final event of the day, the Drawing Machine collaboration, was one of the most fun events I have been part of for a long time. I just love to see all those diverse people working together in such a creative and heartwarming way. Everything was pulled together by the inimitable Elinor Brass.

The exhibition itself was opened by Bob and Roberta Smith, with a fine speech, which Georgia has written up on the Circle

Thanks to Sue Grayson Ford (Campaign for Drawing) and to Lesley Butterworth (NSEAD) for also visiting and making the time to talk to participants. I keep bumping into people, on my UK journeys, who are part of the current Sketchbook Circle and their affirmation of what this is doing to empower them personally, as an artist practitioner, is a pleasure to hear.

I have been busy running my training courses and working in schools too. I loved my day at Corelli College in London in March, where I ran Photography workshops for staff and students and looked at contemporary and conceptual ways of making meaning in images. The afternoon photoshoot (year 13) produced some unique and original imagery. It’s so important to me to be spending time with people in schools, an being a governor at two primary schools is also important work, as it creates that real connection to what is going on in education.

My March training day at the Rufford Carfts Centre, at the invite of Helen Ackroyd, was a focus on visual literacy. We had a very diverse audience present and the learning was intense but meaningful, with an afternoon of sheer joy as we “read” and then re-created famous paintings. An activity which I hope will be replicated in their workplaces.

I also really enjoyed working with primary and secondary art educators in Solihull at the Unity Academy Trust event- again, we looked at life after levels and then spent a quiet and relaxing afternoon in my sketchbook workshop.Telling them that the session was over was painful!

I flew down to Hampshire recently, and had to follow Wayne Hemingway, at the Eastliegh Schools Consortium Training day, for my keynote speech. The focus was updates about NSEAD, boy’s underachievement in our subject and a reminder of why we do what we do. I think it went down well. The afternoon session was a condensed version of my wellbeing session, which we ran at Baltic last term. Hopefully it sent them off on a restfuil weekend. Thanks to John Ainsworth (Swanmore School) for inviting me. It was so good to meet a talented group of art educators from Hampshire. John is doing a good job with creating network opportunities for them.

My NSEAD work, as past President, continues and we have such a good Conference to look forward to in June of this year. Book a place soon. It’s going to be a great weekend, in lovely Birmingham. with a relevant theme as we ourselves look to the future of the Society and how it will evolve as this new century moves forward.

NEATEN (North East Art Teacher Educator Network) is in it’s eighth year. What a great network this is, thanks to the support of Baltic, NSEAD, and the added support of all who regularly attend and who host skill share sessions at their own schools. I am so pleased to see other networks being created online and also face to face. Networking is essential these days. It keeps your spirits up and it keeps the collective brains working together in that common belief in the teaching of art, craft and design, in the making of it, in the knowledge that it can not be diminshed. History is, and always will be, on our side.

If you think it is off that I have not mentioned the UK election in this blog- well, that’s coming up soon (my views and the election that is). Also we have some very exciting news to share about NEATEN events and successes. Tune in soon for the next installment.



1548 days ago

Busy or what?! Good to hear all the news. Enjoyed the inset course I attended with you VERY much. Thanking you.

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