AND Advocates: reflection, sharing & next steps

Rachel Moss, AND Advocates Facilitator, feeds back on the final session of this year’s AND Advocates Programme focusing on reflection, sharing & what next

18 July 2018

AND Advocates are a group of teachers and senior leaders from schools across London with a passion for the arts and culture in education. For the final session of the 2017/18 programme, we met on 20 June at the Wellcome Collection, near Euston. The focus was on reflection, sharing & what next.

We began the session by reflecting on what each Advocate has achieved through the AND Advocates Programme this year:

  • “I have a clearer idea of what I want in terms of a career.”
  • “I have seen where I could go in terms of advocating the arts.”
  • “I have made some invaluable connections that have/will benefit the pupils and teachers.”
  • “I have a clearer idea of what I want from Government in terms of Education.”
  • “I have become more confident as a leader.”
  • “I have the confidence to ‘fight’ for the arts.”
  • “I am building a network of teachers in my borough.”
  • “I have been sharing good practice.”

We then focused on what each teacher wants to achieve next:

  • “To use the behaviour strategies utilised in performing arts subjects to develop a whole school behaviour policy.”
  • “To fundraise for our theatre and build it.”
  • “To inspire others to join the Cultural Leadership Community and AND Advocates.”
  • “To develop a Hackney primary art teacher network/teaching alliance network.”
  • “To develop our Arts Award offer and obtain Artsmark Platinum for my school.”
  • “To encourage the use of action research to develop new teaching strategies.”
  • “To empower others to develop their own creative practice.”
  • “To work with teachers in my network to create resources for arts subjects linked to local art venues.”

This led onto an activity called ‘throw the question’. Everyone thought about the most challenging thing they want to achieve next, turned that into a question, wrote it onto paper along with their name, screwed it up, and then threw it to someone else in the group. The receiver then unscrewed the paper and responded with some advice or a comment before throwing it onto the next person, continuing a few more times before throwing it back to the original person who then looked at the advice they had been given. This is a dynamic and quick way to get some comments from a variety of perspectives. One Advocate said they planned to try it with their students back at school.

For the main part of this session, we heard from the AND Advocates about a project they wanted to share with the group that had been developed this year with the support of A New Direction. The first group of speakers’ presentations were themed around partnership and networking. Firstly we heard from Laura Nichols (Charlotte Sharman School) who has set up Southwark Arts Network to connect teachers in her borough with an event ‘Southwark Untold’ at Tate Exchange. Next, Lucy Williams (Erith School) presented about her British Council trip to Nigeria and her experience of becoming a trustee for The Exchange. You can read a recent blog about Lucy’s Nigeria trip here. Then we heard from Lynne Whiteread (Salusbury Primary School) about her trip to the Gambia with her partner school, including setting up a shoe shop for the children and an Arts Week. This was followed by Yolanda Guns (Chingford Academies Trust) who focused on sharing good practice via Teachmeets and Arts Award Area Networking Meetings, along with the work of her Student Arts Ambassadors.

The second group of speakers’ presentations focused on wellbeing and fundraising. The first speaker was Shermaine Slocombe (The Halley Academy), who spoke about her NEST project (Nurture, Empathy, Support, Transformation), a strand of Flight of Fancy funded by Arts Council England. Secondly, we heard from Paul Morrow (Westminster Special Schools) about the Cultural Inclusion Manifesto he has set up that he is keen for others to sign up to. You can read a recent blog by Paul about the Manifesto here. The third speaker was David Nelson (Linden Lodge School) who has fundraised for his arts project and is now looking at impact, evidence and evaluation to use as a platform for more fundraising. Finally, we heard from Kerri Sellens (Lansbury Lawrence Primary School) about her Room for Art project with the Whitechapel Gallery, for which she is starting on her fundraising journey.

The final group of speakers’ presentations were related to their mentoring priorities – each AND Advocate has been allocated time with a relevant mentor across the year. Firstly Rhiannon Mapleston (Queensbridge Primary School) spoke about her journey to getting their kiln, including fundraising, related community projects, and a skills exchange with another school. Secondly, we heard from Katy Brown (Hampstead School) who is building a new team and developing new subject leaders next year. The third presentation was from Ben Jones (Mayflower Primary School) on researching and creating a contemporary art resource for teachers which can be used at any arts venue. Finally, Suzette Rocca (Bush Hill Park Primary School) spoke about a year of change at her school, culminating in a plan to move forward next year with developing a dance hub.

Thinking ahead, everyone then wrote on a postcard where they want to be with a particular project/issue in around six months time. They put the postcard in an envelope with their name and address on to be sent to them in January 2019 so that they can reflect on their progress.

To conclude, we evaluated by thinking about the successes of the AND Advocates programme, and also their suggestions for improving the programme next year. Laura Fuller, Senior Programme Manager at A New Direction, thanked everyone for their commitment this year, celebrating their achievements, and talked about next steps. This included applying for next years’ AND Advocates, passing on details of the Cultural Leadership Community programme to teachers in their networks, and other forthcoming opportunities such as meeting up as an alumni group.

You can find out more about this year’s AND Advocates here, and read further blogs by Advocates Soren Ramsing (Riverside Campus, Barking) here and Tim Devenish (St Philomena’s Catholic High School For Girls) here.

To find out more about A New Direction’s leadership development programmes for teachers, click here.