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Adding colour to lessons

22 November 2019

A group of teachers stand in front of artwork they have produced
Vibrant paintings, thought-provoking sculptures and detailed prints have been created by a group of primary school teachers who recently put themselves in their pupils’ shoes by brushing up on their art skills and drawing on their shared experiences.

The 12 teachers have completed the six-week evening course, led by Hautlieu School’s head of art, which followed a primary school survey in which pupils called for teachers to increase the amount of art in their curriculum. The teachers - many of whom use art in their lessons but who have never studied the subject in any detail since they were at school themselves - have acquired a variety of techniques, skills and knowledge.

Their efforts were recently displayed at an exhibition to mark the end of their course, which focused on the theme of Liberation 75 – a topic that will inspire a lot of school artwork next year.

As well as learning about art concepts, critique and materials, the teachers experienced what it felt like to be on the receiving end of a teacher’s instructions, the vulnerability of expressing themselves creatively, and the pressure of having to complete tasks within a set time.

The sessions were the result of a pupil survey last year, when senior advisers from Children, Young People, Education and Skills visited 18 primary schools and found that pupils wanted art to play a greater role in their learning. Kate Sugden, the senior adviser for curriculum, said: “Art came up again and again. To teach art to a high standard requires specific knowledge and skills, and there are teachers who find this area of the curriculum a challenge because of the techniques involved.

Art promotes creativity and problem solving; it is an essential part of the curriculum. It is also therapeutic so can enhance wellbeing – and that’s what the teachers noticed the most during their sessions.”

The Minister for Education, Senator Tracey Vallois, joined the teachers at the exhibition. “This has been a different way for teachers to collaborate,” she said. “Being in the same room as other professionals who can share experiences and have the opportunity to throw ideas around and learn new techniques, assists in building confidence and reassurance for teaching back in the classroom as well as having the chance to inform what else you can do. And that can only lead to a raft of opportunities for our students. We are all learners after all.”

Hautlieu School’s head of art Jacque Rutter may have taught the six-week course but said that she learned from her pupils too.

“As well as running the course in the evenings, I have also visited the teachers in their schools to run programmes,” she said. “Working with younger pupils has inspired my A-level teaching.

“Unless you know about the art language you can’t develop or improve. But by the end of the course they were amazing art critics; they blew me away. And they certainly did their homework each week.”

Springfield School’s Year 6 teacher Theresa Gregory said: “Jacque has given us confidence to take a lead on art in our schools. Putting us in the position of the pupils has been the most inspirational aspect of the course – we’ve experienced how it feels when you think your art has gone wrong or how positive you feel when your artwork is displayed. I can truly understand how important it is to put art where it should be in the curriculum.”

Year 4 teacher Hayley Toudic is the art lead at Jersey College Prep. She said that the skills and knowledge she has acquired from the programme have already had a positive impact on her teaching.

“Jacque has introduced us to a whole new world of teaching,” she said. “What we have learned is cross curricular so we can use it in all sorts of ways for any topic.”

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