Guidance for Schools on Setting Up a Project
Schools are encouraged to provide for their pupils the experience of working with professional practitioners. This experience can both enrich and extend their curriculum entitlement and provide a rewarding opportunity for pupils to gain an insight into the way artists of all disciplines approach their work. The involvement of artists, dancers, musicians, poets and performers can be used to introduce new art forms and skills or support activities already undertaken in specialist arts areas, in other subjects or as cross-curricular initiatives. However, when a school wishes to engage an arts practitioner, careful planning is essential to identify what is required to meet the needs of the pupils and how the experience is to be organised.
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.
Questions to consider:
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.
(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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.