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

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I guess I am slipping back into just occasional blogs, which is something I said I would try and not do. There are reasons though, mainly that there are so many things going on all the time that prioritising is hard to do. Also, a blog should be meaningful and not done just to plug a gap. So, I have decided to write a little bit about some work I have been doing with The Big Draw and Schools.

I was talking some time ago to Big Draw Director Kate Mason about an assembly which I had done in a secondary school, on the Creative and Cultural Industries, in terms of future careers, employment and enjoyment, and how I had also created a version for primary schools. Kate put in a bid for some funding and so we are now finalising the last of three events at secondary schools across the country. The format is simple but effective. We ask for assembly time and then a possible follow up of twilight or lunch time sessions to which students, staff and governors are invited. The presentation starts with Kate outlining the work of Big Draw and how drawing can be used in many professional areas and not just the visual arts, this is followed by me and a very visual presentation which explores how the world of work is changing with the development of artificial intelligence and how jobs and careers are and will change and looks specifically at the huge growth in the creative and cultural sectors in the UK pre Brexit and with thoughts on how this will continue post-Brexit. Then we introduce an advocate who talks about how they use drawing and visualisation in the work that they do. We have been honoured to have been joined by Nick Lewis artist/animator, from Arcuss Studios (who came to Carmel College in Darlington with us), Professor Roger Kneebone, Surgeon, and Laura Jobling (Print designer and whom I had the pleasure of teaching at secondary school) who came with us to St Marylebone CE School in London and to Bob Cheshire (Concept Artist) who accompanied us to Branston Community Academy. These people are so inspiring when they share their journey through to where they are know and share their love of creativity through the work that they do. I have no doubt that those real life case studies have had an impact on the students we have worked with, from year 8 though to year 13. I have no doubt that we have made students think.

It is a myth expounded by this current government that the areas of study which will be the most important are Science and Maths, all subjects are equal and should support each other. The marriage of the Arts with Science, in particular, is what makes history and innovation happen. Science is about creating new solutions, it needs creative thinkers who can apply their knowledge to new and constantly changing situations. We spend far too long separating these in schools and curriculum models, and in creating hierarchies of subjects which, in turn, create a false rank order of value. Why do (for example) schools say they are going to have a STEM week? What’s the problem with calling it STEAM? STEAM is the educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics as learning paths for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking. Surely that should be the focus for us all?

Anyway, let’s hope this small project can be the start for something bigger. I have really enjoyed it and have seen the impact. We currently have one in eleven jobs in the whole creative and cultural industry sector, that could grown to one in seven by 2025. We have a duty to share this information.

Perhaps when our Secretary of State for Education finally gets round to reviewing the English Baccalaureate, she will spot the glaring omission of the Arts, or perhaps she will also recognise that in fact the EBacc is no longer fit for purpose. The world has and is changing rapidly, occupations and careers are not for life anymore, people will have micro careers and adapt to changing landscapes and ways of working. Our duty is to prepare them for that and support our young people so that they thrive (rather than just survive) in the contemporary world we live in.

Have a look at BIG DRAW online:



2652 days ago

I wish we could have your assembly at our school and so is there an online form please?? We are in Derbyshire. HELP!!!!!

Sally Miller

2652 days ago

Relevant and crucial to the survival of arts in schools. They are so very ignorant about what the Creative Industries offer young people. Your work is valuable but needs to be countrywide to be really effective. Bloody stupid government .

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