We are Failing our Children…

I want to share something with you, something that really made me upset and angry.
This week I came across a job advertisement, a job for an art teacher in a primary school! The successful candidate will be at the forefront of devising and implementing a new school art curriculum. Excellent I thought, that’s good, so glad that a primary school is valuing the arts and taking positive action towards providing kids with that ‘broad and balanced curriculum’ that is always mentioned in any school prospectus.

I have been in this role several times, each time drawing on my years of knowledge and experience as a qualified teacher. It is a lengthy process which involves knowledge of how children learn, knowledge of the developmental stages of children’s art, an understanding of how to break down and teach learning objectives into bite sized achievable pieces, ( knowing what a learning objective is in the first place and how to write one) knowledge of the primary curriculum in all subjects,  knowledge of how to use the work of famous artists with children and how to teach them to ‘decode’ an artwork using appropriate art vocabulary, knowledge of how art should be delivered to support learning in other subjects and topics, knowledge of common mistakes and errors children make, knowledge in how to teach children with SEND, EAL, different abilities ……..I could go on.

Imagine a primary school with children aged from Reception to year 6. Each half term would involve a 6 week block of developmental lessons per year group. That’s 42 art lessons. Multiply that by 6 ( the number of half terms in a school year) and that  gives you 252 lessons to be responsible for per year with each lesson planned in meticulous detail. It’s a lot of work and takes months.

So why am I so upset?

The job advert was specifically looking for an UNQUALIFIED teacher!
How my heart sank.
Awful, just awful.

Why does art continue to be treated in this way?
Why is it always shunted to a Friday afternoon if it is taught at all?
Why do people think that anyone could teach it?

I did not study for 4 years to get an art degree and teaching qualification to then be trampled over by others perceptions of what art is. I feel totally undermined.

Funding I hear you say, it is common knowledge that schools are strapped for cash, maybe they can’t afford a qualified teacher. But tell me this……what would parents reactions be if they saw that heads were deliberately seeking  unqualified maths teachers or unqualified science and English teachers? Uproar, I would imagine.

A child’s education is so important, they only get one, any time missed by having inappropriate or mediocre teaching is never replaced. Missed opportunities are gone, children will never get them back. I am against the government’s idea that anyone can teach regardless of if they’ve been in the army or secured a first at university. I’ve seen countless people being thrown into a classroom with no training and then expected to get on with it. Many don’t make it past 2 weeks and subsequently a class of  30 children are left without a teacher.

Teaching and teaching art properly is fundamental for children. A love of creativity should be nurtured starting  as early as possible. It gives SO much to a persons confidence, well being, empathy. and skills in problem solving. Knowing and understanding how to teach an art curriculum should be praised not devalued. Several parents have said to me lately that their child doesn’t get art at school anymore and my heart bleeds for them.
We are failing our children….

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