As a community of creative individuals, we all know the value of the arts for children and young people, whether it’s about well-being and mental health, building character, or learning about what it means to be human. Schools, in this case, play a huge part on how children and young people access these and what they perceive the arts and cultural learning to be.
Cultural experiences that young people encounter at school can be inspiring and have long lasting effects. I, for example, will never forget seeing Neon Rice Field at the Tate Britain for the Turner Prize Award in 1993. Being exposed to art that goes beyond a traditional canvas and lights up your imagination allowing you to play with ideas and ask questions, is something that should not be left behind.
More than ever before, these experiences are going to contribute to the way young people see and solve problems in the world around them and learn about themselves. The LCEP wants to therefore ensure we can support schools by mapping existing provisions and identify barriers by hearing from teachers themselves.
What is the relationship between schools and local cultural organisations? How much do teachers understand what cultural education is and why it’s important? To answer these questions, we have launched a very important survey aimed at all teachers in Chelmsford. It is aimed not just at teachers or leaders of the arts but all teachers, no matter what phase, subject or school you teach. From this survey we want to help strengthen collaborations and support sustainable partnerships that put the arts and culture at the hearts of our children and young people’s futures.
After what’s been one of the most trying of academic years for teachers (and indeed all school staff and students), the summer break could not be more welcome. Just in time, however, I caught up with Jonathan Harvey, subject leader of art and Artsmark lead from Chelmsford County High School for Girls. Below, he shares an insight on creative and cultural education.
Why is creative and cultural education important?
JH Creative and cultural practice is so important in schools because it engages and frees the mind. It allows us to absorb knowledge easily and process learning more efficiently. Being creative isn’t just something that sits with the Arts, creativity enables alternative ways of thinking in all subjects. It frees old patterns or habits of thinking and allows us to think more broadly.
As well as this being creative and cultural in school it is important, we let this run into our own lives. It opens our hearts and doors to our mind that heals us and brings a sense of peace. It allows recognition of uniqueness and identity and can help draw out what is already there within – hidden talents and inner capacities can emerge. It connects us with our passions.
What are your own experiences of learning about the arts at school?
JH I have always been a creative person. For as longs as I can remember I was always drawing and colouring at home. My Year 7 Art teacher saw my passion and my thirst for learning about the subject when I first started secondary school. She guided all the way through to my A Levels with empathy and kindness. Nurturing my skills and exposing me to arts and culture from all around the world, she was the person who ignited the fire in my tummy for art which ultimately led me to becoming a teacher of Art myself.
Tell us about your school’s Artsmark journey.
JH We were awarded the gold Artsmark in 2018 and are currently on the second round of our Artsmark Journey. We have just submitted our statement of impact for 2022 and will soon thinking about our statement of commitment for the next round.
Our school is so creative in many wonderful ways from big events like our creative festivals and creative days to school shows and exhibitions. Down to everyday enrichment clubs to cake decorating competitions etc. As an educator it is so amazing to see all the students take part in these creative and cultural activities and having fun with them. The Artsmark journey has a big impact on their experiences at school and even for teachers. It’s very supportive to be a part of the LCEP, which is helping us open conversations and connect with local schools.
Help us spread the word
Are you a teacher or do you know one?
Teachers: You can find the survey here. As a thank you, all participants that opt in, will be entered into a prize draw to win a pair of theatre tickets, we have 2 pairs up for grabs!