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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…)

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…)