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Arts education: how can we bring it out from the wings and into the spotlight?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital18 June 2021

IOE Events.

Our latest debate took a look at arts education: why it matters, how it’s been pushed to the margins, and how to bring it back centre stage. To review those question we were joined by an expert cast of education and public affairs professionals: art and textiles teacher (and 2018 Global Teacher Prize winner, and IOE alum) Andria Zafirakou, primary art specialist Emily Gopaul, IOE researcher Isobel Traunter, Public First director, Ed Dorrell, and our chair for the discussion, Dominic Wyse, Professor of Early Childhood and Primary Education at the IOE and researcher on creativity (read more about our panellists).

Arts education, encompassing art, dance, design, drama and music, is widely regarded as vital to a ‘well rounded education’.  Alongside the development of particular cognitive skills and aptitudes, studying these subjects has been shown to benefit physical and mental health, the transferable skills that employers increasingly look for, as well as appreciation of difference and diversity. Yet, if we look at teacher numbers, teaching hours and exam entries we see just how (more…)

Touched by music: a Christmas playlist with a tactile spin

Blog Editor, IOE Digital15 December 2020

The In-Touch team, UCL Knowledge Lab

Music is a part of our everyday lives: many song lyrics both ‘touch’ us and tell stories of our tactile relationships with one another.

The interdisciplinary InTouch Project at UCL explores the social implications of digital technology for touch communication. As a fun side-project the team has compiled a Touch Playlist – and it seems every music genre loves a bit of touch!

This winter season, lit up by Diwali, Hanukkah, Christmas and Hogmanay, heralds its own set of songs packed with tactile metaphors, invitations to touch, and felt memories. Here, we share a few thoughts on ‘touchy’ Christmas lyrics. Indeed, in the words of Queen (not The Queen), ‘it’s been a long hard year’ for many of us, in shared and different ways. How might the usual medley of (more…)

Why the arts should be at the heart of a recovery curriculum

Blog Editor, IOE Digital16 July 2020

Isobel Traunter.

To make up for lost education during the lockdown, the UK government recently advised primary schools in particular to prioritise ‘progress in the essentials’. Consequently, many have voiced concerns regarding the implications this may have for the arts in English primary schools. The artist known as Bob & Roberta Smith has spoken out against the idea of a ‘catch-up’ curriculum, suggesting that this could potentially ‘damage the creative potential of this country, stunting our ability to draw and design the future’.

Many educators and artists believe the arts are more important than ever at this time. They are calling for a renewed focus on the arts in schools as a response to the emotional fallout of the national pandemic.

Reception child’s painting

The government’s announcement echoes the messages which have resounded throughout the pandemic suggesting that pupils – especially those from deprived backgrounds – are falling behind or need to catch up. This catch-up rhetoric often seems to focus exclusively on the core subjects such as numeracy, literacy and science at the expense of the arts. But surely the arts have merit of their own which warrants their inclusion in a ‘catch-up’ curriculum? In fact they could provide what children and teachers need most.

In my own PhD research exploring visual art’s position in the early years curriculum in disadvantaged primary schools across England, the 25 teachers I have interviewed so far (more…)

Cash may be going out of fashion, but children still need to understand how money works

Blog Editor, IOE Digital1 May 2019

Jennie Golding.

At present I am leading a fascinating set of research studies that take me into mathematics classrooms of the full range of 5 to 18-year-olds. We are asking how the current mathematics curriculum is being experienced by teachers and learners, and how, and in what ways, they are being supported by printed and digital curriculum materials.

The national curriculum says mathematics ‘is essential to everyday life, … and necessary for financial literacy and most forms of employment’. As part of our research, I’ve recently been in two classrooms where the focus of the lesson has been to develop mathematical ideas, and everyday skills, through the use of money. What I observed shocked me into asking fundamental questions about the ways in which we as a twenty-first society educate our young people to be financially capable. (more…)

Exploring what it means to be ‘evidence-rich’ in practice

Blog Editor, IOE Digital12 April 2018

Naomi Bath. 
The RSA’s Learning About Culture programme aims to develop more evidence of what works in cultural learning and to help practitioners to use evidence from their own work and elsewhere to improve their practice. At the centre of the programme is a partnership with the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) who are undertaking five randomised control trials that are being evaluated by IOE and the Behavioural Insights Team. Alongside this, the RSA aims to support schools and cultural organisations on their journey towards what we are terming ‘evidence-rich practice’. In this blog, we want to explore the origin of the term and what we mean by it.

Questions of terminology

‘Evidence-based practice’ or ‘evidence-informed practice’? ‘Evidence-engaged’ or ‘research-engaged’? One could be forgiven for avoiding these terms for fear of getting lost (more…)

Some are more equal than others: who is music education for?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital29 April 2016

Andrea Creech
The National Music Plan (NMP) aims to enable children from all backgrounds and every part of England to have the opportunity to learn a musical instrument; to make music with other people; to learn to sing; and to have the opportunity to progress.
Unfortunately, there are good reasons to worry instead that music education has become the preserve of the elite.
For example, Ofsted reported in 2013 that few Music Hubs – set up to promote and coordinate music regionally – were doing enough to help schools bring the benefits of music education to pupils from all backgrounds. Other reports have highlighted persistent social barriers and described access to music education as ‘unacceptably variable’. Critics have argued that the NMP does not align well with principles of inclusion (for example, downgrading informal learning) and that it has been (more…)

Yes Ministry: writing project gives creativity a boost

Blog Editor, IOE Digital11 March 2016

Dominic Wyse
If you agree that the Primary National Curriculum for English is too complex and over-loaded with detail, try a little experiment. See what happens when you take the 2014 Music Curriculum and adapt it appropriately.
My team and I have been researching the development of children’s creativity, and I think this could represent a new vision for English in the curriculum of the future:

 Purposes

One of the highest forms of creativity

Increase [pupils’] self-confidence, creativity and sense of achievement

Aims

To create and compose writing on their own and with others

To understand and explore how writing is created

KS1 programme of study (more…)

Who will win the Next Gen Oscars?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital26 February 2016

Andrew Burn
In this season of media excitement about the BAFTAs and Oscars, it seems reasonable for educators to ask where the next generation of film-makers might come from. Recent government policy in Arts education has certainly begun to take note of the value of film-making for young people, prodded by specialist institutions, in particular the British Film Institute (BFI). The lottery-funded Into Film programme provides opportunities for young people to watch and make films.
Nevertheless, when it comes to the school curriculum, film education and media education are pretty well invisible. They are certainly ranked lower than Art and Music, which are National Curriculum subjects, and even Dance and Drama, embedded respectively within PE and English.
These are topics I address in my inaugural professorial lecture, about to be published by UCL IOE Press. Entitled In Defence of the Media Arts: Screen Education in the Twenty-First Century, it argues that politicians and educators need to take media arts education (more…)