The programme

The Contemporary Art in the Classroom CPD and Learning Programme developed from out of our work with The British Art Show 9 (BAS9) exhibition in Wolverhampton. We created the Inspired by British Art Show 9 Arts Connect Learning Programme in 2020 to engage young people and inspire teachers with BAS9.

It created an ‘ignition’ moment for us to continue to lead on a dynamic contemporary arts CPD and learning programme working with our colleagues at the University of Wolverhampton, local teachers, young people, local artists and galleries.

The programme has to date engaged 98 schools, over 200 art teachers and 3,735 children and young people predominantly in the Black Country.

 

The ethos

We know that young people benefit greatly from engaging with the visual art in all its forms. We believe that art education should provide all children and young people with opportunities to think, make, collaborate, and reflect as artists, building valuable skills, knowledge and understanding. Through exploring contemporary art young people get to experiment with a breadth of art techniques and materials, they are inspired by artists that look and sound like themselves and build a greater understanding of the world around them and their place in it.

We understand how important art teachers are in opening up a world of art and cultural opportunities for the young people they work with and we want to support all art teachers to be confident, bold and curious in the classroom.

The Contemporary Art in the Classroom CPD and Learning Programme forms an important part of our ongoing action to grow a pro-active and nourished network of art teachers who confidently approach contemporary art in their curriculum inspiring young people to grow as artists and individuals.

 

Who do we work with?

We collaborate with local art organisations and artists to build experiences for art teachers that provide fresh art inspirations, explore new teaching practices and build on their experience and understanding of contemporary art. Since 2022, when British Art Show 9 exhibited in Wolverhampton, we have used national and internationally renowned exhibitions as inspirations for our programmes. We have collaborated with arts organisations including Wolverhampton School of Creative Industries, The New Art Gallery Walsall and Wolverhampton Art Gallery to ensure teachers work with a diverse breadth of professionals and engage with the most exciting artwork in our area.

 

How much does it cost?

The programme is fully funded by Arts Connect through Art Council England funds.

 

Who is it for?

Primary and Secondary and FE art teachers in Telford and the Black Country

“The CPD programme was a great opportunity to develop our art curriculum with the support of Arts Connect to drive new ideas.”

Teacher from the Contemporary Art in the Classroom Programme 

The programmes

In partnership with The New Art Gallery Walsall.

A recent report: Visualise: Race and Inclusion in Secondary Art Education highlights that there is a lack of representation in current art education and due to many factors art teachers are poorly supported to build their skills, knowledge and confidence around broadening and diversifying their curriculum. This has led to many young people missing out on creative role models that reflect themselves and ‘losing so much of the richness and innovation that learning and making art should offer.’

Our 2024 Contemporary Art in the Classroom Teacher CPD and Learning Programme is focused on supporting art teachers to confidently explore race, heritage and identity in the classroom through contemporary visual art. We are collaborating with 12 teachers from local secondary schools and colleges who are using The World That Belongs to Us exhibition at The New Art Gallery Walsall as inspiration to investigate artists representing the global majority and consider the context of their work related to their identity and backgrounds. The exhibition is a brilliant starting point to inspire discussions, ideas and activities as it brings together artists from the South Asian diasporas exploring many aspects of identity, relationships and society and features a varied range of visual art forms including painting, photography, installation, film and digital media.

Teachers on this year’s programme will take part in exhibition tours, artist workshops, and group sharing and reflection sessions to build their knowledge and understanding of the artwork and themes of the exhibition and take their learning back to the classroom to explore new ideas, techniques and teaching strategies with their students. Their students will also get to visit the exhibition and take part in an artist led practical workshop.

Through this CPD and learning programme our aim is that teachers grow their skills and confidence to use contemporary art to broaden their curriculum and be inspired by artwork that is accessible and reflects students’ lives and the world they live in.

Inspired by ‘The more things change…’ exhibition.

The Blk Art Group was founded in 1982 in Wolverhampton, they are a group of artists of Caribbean migrant descent who sought to empower black artists as well as encouraging young white artists to be more socially relevant in their practice. To celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the BLK Art group being formed the University of Wolverhampton and Wolverhampton Art Gallery hosted an exhibition of their artworks and publications called ‘The more things change…’. The exhibition provided exciting inspiration to build a CPD programme which informed and supported local art teachers to explore the themes of race and heritage within their curriculum and investigate the social and cultural themes that underpin the British Black Art Movement.

Teachers engaged in a curatorial tour of ‘The more things change…’ exhibition at Wolverhampton Art Gallery and took part in workshops led by Dr Andrew Yarnold, Dr Ian Sargeant and artists Exodus Crooks and Aarifa Amatul-Hayye. Students also visited the gallery, explored the exhibition and took part in practical artist led workshops.

Each teacher then designed and led projects with their students inspired by the content and context of the exhibition encouraging their students to discuss and explore themes of heritage and race within their idea forming and artwork. The programme culminated in public exhibitions of student’s artwork at Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Wolverhampton School of Art.

Teachers involved in the programme shared that exploring‘The more things change..’ and the Blk Art Group built their confidence to approach race and identity in the classroom. Many had started to diversify their curriculum before the programme but having the exhibition to focus on gave them a clear purpose and impetus. All of the teachers involved said they would continue to explore issues of race, heritage and identity with their students using artists representing the global majority as inspiration.

Inspired by Breaking the Mould: Sculpture by Women since 1945.   

Breaking the Mould was a major touring exhibition challenging the male-dominated narratives of post-war British sculpture by presenting a diverse and significant range of ambitious work by women, which exhibited across the UK completing its journey at The New Art Gallery Walsall in October 2022. We saw this as an opportunity to work with local teachers to enhance their skills, knowledge and confidence around sculptural contemporary artwork and practical 3D art making practices using internationally renowned artists and artwork as their inspiration.

Teachers and students visited The New Art Gallery Walsall and worked with curators and artists who explored the context and themes of the artwork and demonstrated art making techniques used in the exhibition. Each teacher then used different aspects of the exhibition to design in-school projects and reshape their art curriculum enabling their students to explore 3D contemporary art, investigate new making techniques and research fresh art inspirations.

Projects varied from school to school dependent on the capacity and ambitions of teachers and the needs of their students. One teacher on the programme led a whole school CPD session for their colleagues which culminated in every student taking part in an Arts Week event inspired by Breaking the Mould and 3D contemporary art another teacher used the project as a platform to embed sculpture within their art curriculum and introduce a 3D design GCSE course. To showcase the learning and activity that took place during the CPD programme we hosted a public exhibition of student’s artwork at a local arts centre which was well attended by young people, families, and school communities.

Our partner schools

 

  • Colton Hills Community School, Wolverhampton
  • Dawley Brook Primary, Dudley
  • Dudley College of Technology
  • Ellowes Hall Sport College, Dudley
  • Ercall Wood Academy, Telford
  • Heath Park School, Wolverhampton
  • Highfields School, Wolverhampton
  • Joseph Leckie Academy, Walsall
  • Pegasus Academy, Dudley
  • Phoenix Collegiate, Sandwell
  • Sandwell College
  • St James Academy, Dudley
  • St Matthias School, Wolverhampton
  • Stuart Bathurst Catholic High School, Wednesbury, Sandwell
  • Villiers Primary School, Wolverhampton
  • Wolverhampton Grammar School

Get in Touch

Please contact Arts Connect for further information our work with the Contemporary Art in the Classroom CPD and Learning Programme.

Main image credit: The Phoenix Collegiate, West Bromwich.