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Call for proposals: Engage 41

Call for proposals – Engage Journal 41

Art, craft and design education for the 21st century (working title)


The outline below, stimulated by a discussion with the Engage Journal Editorial Advisory Board (EAB), is followed by a series of questions. Please address these or use them as prompts in proposals for articles.



Download a PDF version of this callout here.


This issue of the Journal will focus on how galleries and museums can work effectively with schools. It will discuss strategies that museums and galleries are employing to support teachers, and those children and young people who want to study art, craft and design.


The UK’s National Society for Education in Art and Design (NSEAD) carried out a large and comprehensive survey in 2015/16, enquiring how government policy over the previous five years has impacted on art, craft and design education in England. The findings make sobering reading, revealing how government policies have negatively ‘impacted not only on the value of the subject, but on the time and resources needed for children and young people to participate and excel in art, craft and design. These changes, evidenced throughout NSEAD’s report, are reducing opportunities and choices to engage in a broad and balanced curriculum and risk jeopardising and limiting the UK as a creative and competitive force in a global market’ 1.


Among the findings, learning opportunities in art, craft and design at all ages have reduced significantly, and the value given to art and design has impacted on choice and provision. Not surprisingly, in this context schools have fewer resources to support engagement with artworks first hand in galleries and museums, or contact with creative practitioners. Similarly, ‘Access to relevant CPD in art and design is limited and for some teachers subject-specific training is non-existent. Significant numbers of art and design specialists in all phases ‘rarely or never’ receive CPD’.


It should be noted that education is devolved in Wales and Scotland. A survey run by the Educational Institute of Scotland into the Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland (for learners aged three to fifteen) shared concerns identified by NSEAD, e.g. attitudes to the value of cultural subjects and workload issues for teachers and learners due to an increase in units and assessment. A new curriculum is being developed for settings and schools in Wales - with creativity embedded throughout – to be in place for September 2018 and used throughout Wales by 2021.


Reporting on the Department for Education in England’s response to consultation on the proposed introduction of the English Baccalaureate, the Cultural Learning Alliance points to evidence internationally of the value of cultural education:


‘…we don’t agree that making the EBacc the core driver of our education system is bringing us into line with other countries; in fact many of the highest performing systems make the arts compulsory, and we think the narrowed focus of the EBacc is out-of-step with the forefront of international education thinking (for example the PISA tables now include standard testing in Creative Problem Solving ….’



The consequent impact on galleries and museums is worrying, with fewer schools visiting, and fewer opportunities for partnerships with the cultural sector, or to work with artists. This isn’t just an issue in the UK. Gill Nicol from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney reports:


‘Trainee teachers are getting hardly any time to learn about art or creative thinking - it’s all about science and maths.’


The concern in Ireland is that the arts curriculum at second level has been stagnant, with few developments since 1972. Whilst a new Junior Cycle (11-15 years) curriculum was introduced in 2014, art teachers had to campaign last year to set in motion much needed reform of the Senior Cycle (15-19 years). Leaving Certificate Art itself is not required or recognised as entry to 3rd level art college (matriculation); students must produce an additional portfolio of artwork, believing it better for applicants not to have studied such an outdated curriculum.  


Another trend internationally, is towards less ‘subject’ based curricula and a shift to ‘skills and competencies’, in recognition that concentrating on accumulating facts, information and knowledge does not foster understanding of how to use them. The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) is constructing a framework for Global competency to help shape what young people learn for 2030. The idea that pupils should acquire generic and transferable competencies that they have learnt to develop and can apply in different contexts implies fundamental changes to the traditional structure of curricula, and with that a rethinking of pedagogy and assessment. Interestingly, the Europe wide framework of reference for visual literacy, discussed in issue 38, uses this concept of competencies and proposes a common model of visual competencies and the contexts in which they are needed. 2


A reduction in the status of art, craft and design and a shift from subject to competency raise fundamental questions about the purpose and function of galleries and museums, especially regarding advocacy and promoting learning in these subjects. 



http://engage.org/article.aspx?id=188 ……………………………………………………………………………………………….....

We are interested in contributions from colleagues in the UK and worldwide, reflecting on practices, shifting understandings, discussing polices and the challenges faced in different contexts, in relation to question such as:


• How can museums and galleries inform curricula, promote the value of the visual arts, crafts and design and influence what is taught in schools?


• What alternative models of visual arts, crafts and design education are offered by galleries, museums, artists and other visual arts organisations?


• What role can galleries and museums play in aligning visual arts, crafts and design skills and associated competencies with careers and the economy?


• What role can partnerships play in raising the status and improving provision of the visual arts, craft and design in schools? Partnerships might include other cultural institutions, schools, universities and other further education suppliers, artist and artist groups and partners from industry and employment.


• What implications does a competency based approach to learning have for museums and galleries?


• What can galleries, museums, artists and visual arts organisations do to support and nurture teachers, who may otherwise receive little CPD or further support?


• What can galleries and museums do to maintain the status and value of the visual arts, crafts and design amongst parents in their locality?


• How can museums and galleries provide opportunities for CPD, which can be lacking in schools, and for which there may be no money?


• What strategies are galleries and museums employing to engage schools and enable access to real works of art, craft and design?


• To what extent can outreach replace visits to museums and galleries?


• What potential is there for digital engagement to extend or replace visits to museums and galleries, and engagement with real artefacts?


• How can galleries and museums support young people who are interested in the visual arts, crafts and design, and might want to progress into further education and careers?


• What educational and training demands are young people putting on cultural institutions?


If you are interested in contributing to this issue, please send an informal proposal of no more than 300 words, your job/freelance title and contact details to Laura Callan, Communications Officer – communications@engage.org by 10am on Friday 1 September 2017.


Contributions may take the format of articles, interviews, collaborative pieces, conversations, photo essays or discussions, and Engage welcomes those which take advantage of the Journal’s online format, through the use of sound or video clips, film and html links to digital content. As a guide, final articles lie between 1,500 and 4,000 words.


Issue timeline:

Proposals deadline: 10am, Friday 1 September 2017

Finished article deadline: 10am, Monday 16 October 2017

Engage 41 will be published in Spring 2018

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