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25th May 19
Trail : home / Further Information and Useful Links : Guidance for Schools on Setting Up a Project

Guidance for Schools on Setting Up a Project


  Identify what you want from the project

Successful projects address an identified school need and bring together the strengths of teachers and practitioners. Artists and performers should not be used as substitute teachers or as a means of freeing-up teacher time.  Internal discussions are needed to form a clear idea of what the purpose of the project is to be.


2   Getting Started

  Questions to consider:

  • What is the main purpose of the project?
  • Which art-forms will be involved?
  • Which year groups / members of staff will be involved?
  • Who will have overall responsibility for co-ordinating the project?
  • When will the project take place?
  • What will be the duration?
  • How much time will the artist spend in school?
  • How will the project be funded?
  • How will the project will be evaluated? 



3   Establishing a budget


Schools will need to cover the cost of practitioner's fees (including any charges for preliminary meetings), materials, resources and possibly travel expenses. Other additional costs may be required depending on the nature of the residency e.g. supply cover for project co-ordinator, out of school visits for pupils, transport costs.

Prepare a breakdown of all expenditure so that the realistic cost of the project can be identified and the school can prepare to raise funds to match the cost.




4   Selecting the Practitioner


Several arts organisations and individual companies offer services to schools and can be contacted through their websites. ( , )

(A database of artists/musicians/practitioners is in the process of being constructed on this website)

Recommendations from colleagues in other schools, specialist advisers and local arts organisations can also provide useful contacts.


However it is the responsibility of the school to ensure that the person selected is appropriate to the needs of the project and is suitable to work in a school.




5   Initial Meetings


When a practitioner has been selected it is important for the school to hold a preliminary meeting

with the person to clearly establish and agree what the project will involve and how and when it will take place. The cost of such a meeting may need to be included in the budget for the project.


At this meeting issues discussed should include:

  • Setting of clear aims and objectives for the residency / project which are agreed and understood by both the school and the professional practitioner.
  •  Establishing success criteria that will help to monitor and evaluate the outcomes of the project.
  •  Selecting the pupils to be involved (projects are most likely to succeed when they have been targeted at specific pupils or groups.)

Agree the introductory activities or skill building exercises to be undertaken by the school in preparation for the project.

Decide how the project will culminate or how the gains from the residency can be disseminated to impact on the wider school community.




6   Identify practical issues


Early preparation and organisation of practical requirements will help the residency run smoothly.


Workspace: discuss and consider what accommodation / working environment will be required. e.g. a writer may require a quiet working area or a theatre company may require a performance area of a minimum size. Such shared spaces as library, hall, gym may need prior booking and alternative spaces allocated for regular classes.


Resources & materials: some practitioners and teachers prefer to work with the equipment and materials that are already available within the school, others will require specialist resources.

Materials and resources required should be identified early in the planning process for the project. Also who is responsible for supplying them should be clearly established.




7   Preparing for the Residency / Project


  • Inform pupils of the project's aims and objectives
  • Identify for them where and how it will build on or extend the learning opportunities they have experienced previously.
  • Explain to pupils what will be required of them.
  • Build preparatory work, skills and knowledge into the lead-in lessons and activities.
  • Provide information about the professional practitioner and show examples of their work or achievements if possible.
  • Include and inform people in other areas of the school or other interested parties about what will be happening during the project, e.g. other teachers or curriculum areas, support staff, maintenance and caretaking staff, parents, governors, friends of the school and local community organisations, especially if they are expected to participate or help in some way.
  • Ensure that the 'withdrawal' of any pupils from lessons has been agreed with other teachers.
  • Provide information in advance for the practitioner about the organisation and running of the school day.


8   Project / Residency


  • Introduce the practitioner to all staff in school
  • At the start of the project allow time for the artist / performer to talk about his / her background and involvements to enable teachers and pupils to understand the creative, artistic and commercial environment in which the practitioner operates.
  • Provide opportunity during the residency to review the project's progress from both the school's and practitioner's viewpoint.
  • Use the agreed project plan and success criteria as a basis for evaluating what is taking place
  • Are the original aims and objectives being achieved ?
  • What is the level of: pupils' participation, engagement and progress
                                teachers' participation and interest?      
  • Is the project on schedule ?

While using the aims and objectives of the project as a framework for judging progress, schools should remain flexible enough to allow for new and exciting developments without losing sight of the original purpose of the residency.




9   Project Evaluation


Many artist-in-school residencies work towards a final display, performance or recital sometimes including an audience from the wider community. The type of event audience and venue needs to be carefully considered well in advance of the end of the project.


The final evaluation of the project is important to determine the success of having a professional practitioner in school for a period of time and to measure the impact it has had on the teaching and learning within the school. It will also help to identify how such a residency within the school in future can be improved.


Documentation by photography and video during the project, feedback questionnaires from those involved, progress meeting & discussions, and objective judgements against the intended learning outcomes will support and inform the evaluation of the project.


An NFER publication 'Artists in Schools' (ISBN 0 7005 1413 9) available from Arts Council England gives comprehensive and detailed guidance on setting up practitioner residences in schools.