Highlights from our Teaching School Leaders Conference

23 March 2015

Teaching School Leaders from across London gathered at Coin Street Neighbourhood Centre on 5 March 2015 for a conference exploring opportunities for Arts and Culture across London, and how these can support Teaching Schools to achieve their objectives.

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John Stephens, National Director for Teaching Schools for the DfE and National College for Teaching and Learning, opened the event with a presentation highlighting the significant benefits in schools where arts and culture are done well. He spoke about the leadership dividend for a school-led system, where cultural experience and enrichment play a significant role in adding value particularly for vulnerable children. He described how the ‘Big 6’ priorities could be achieved through cultural experiences and the critical role and benefits of ITT, peer to peer support, support to schools, SLE deployment and research and development.

The table discussion that followed raised issues of promoting creativity through learner-adapted learning. The historical privilege of certain intelligences over others in the assessment and judgement of success and progress leads many to presume that literacy, numeracy and scientific acumen are somehow superior to the ‘softer’ skills acquired through other routes. The issue of real and imagined constraints were also discussed.

David Whitfield, London Representative of the Teaching Schools Council explained how his position in the national and regional networks could be of benefit to individual schools, to represent the voice of teaching schools, build on existing networks, support area-wide partnerships, facilitate school to school support and to grow the new system leaders of the future who would increase existing capacity. The gradual shift of responsibility from the centre to school-led control provides a real opportunity for teaching schools to play a key role in shaping and influencing policy and financial deployment decision and accountability.

The benefits of arts and culture in developing the qualities that employers value are being increasingly recognised at a range of levels, by parents, pupils, school leaders, employers, and hard evidence of impact and clear case studies need to be more widely communicated. The Teaching Schools Council website provides a vehicle for this celebration of success, through sub-regional conferences, sub-regional networks and through opportunities for ITT and CPD. The Teaching Schools Council is able to map and analyse information across London and therefore to support the presentation of a strong case for funding and development. David gave information on existing network events which could be tapped into by other teaching schools.

Holly Donagh, Partnerships Director at A New Direction, explained the role of AND as a bridge organisation and its role in spotting gaps and opportunities for schools through strong programmes with sustainable outcomes. As a broker through programmes such as Connected London, and a support for Artsmark, Arts Award and CPD forums, AND has a wide range of support to offer Alliance schools. Holly also described impact on curriculum and non-cognitive (character) outcomes, employment and cultural capital, from a wide range of schools across London and shared recently-produced infographics.

Tracy Edwards from Swiss Cottage School Development & Research Centre in Camden, shared a range of resources designed and developed by this all-age special school to support creative expression and, importantly, provide assessment frameworks through which progress and development can not only be mapped at an individual level, but also mapped against curriculum levels. Curriculum progression planners for activities and individual tracking were also made available with other resources including and investigative toolkit to identify the relative importance of barriers to learning. These and other resources can be found on the Swiss Cottage website.

Download the presentations from the day below.

Download Arts and Culture – The London picture (Holly Donagh, A New Direction)

Download Opportunities to Influence through Alliances and Hubs in London (David whitfield, Teaching School council)

Download Developing Successful Resources (Tracy Edwards, Swiss Cottage School (Camden))

Download The Role of Arts and Culture in Achieving Ambitions of Teaching Schools (Dr John Stephens)