The Severn Teaching School Alliance – comprising 49 primary schools plus a handful of secondary and special schools – is developing a team of Specialist Teachers for the arts in Telford in partnership with Telford Culture Zone. Ian Thomas from Telford and Wrekin Council explains this far-reaching project:

“We have a very strong Teaching School Alliance (TSA) here in Telford, with 49 primary schools, 4 special schools and a number of secondary schools. About 18 months ago we pinpointed the need to develop the quality of arts and cultural teaching across the TSA, particularly in the primaries, where there are very few specialist teachers. So we sat down with Arts Connect to develop a programme of training and mentoring in order to develop arts and culture education leaders.

“Six teachers were appointed to take part in the programme, which will last eight months. They will immerse themselves in the arts! They have met former Schools Minister Estelle Morris, will take backstage tours at Birmingham Repertory Theatre, will meet the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, learn about the In Harmony programme (a social development programme delivered through music, for children and young people) and receive training in Arts Award. Arts Connect and the Severn Teaching Alliance have worked with Telford Culture Zone throughout the process, meeting the six trainees and sharing their knowledge and contacts. The aim is to break down any perceived boundaries so that the arts, and arts organisations, become accessible.

“When the scheme ends in 2016, the group will become Specialist Teachers and can disseminate their learning within their own schools, and other schools in the Alliance. There is an urgent need across other counties and local authority areas for high quality arts teacher training and the model we’ve started here can be replicated elsewhere. Quality arts education can have a positive impact across the curriculum and should never just be seen as an ‘add on’.”

Ian Thomas, Service Development Group Leader: Arts and Culture
Telford and Wrekin Council

“It has been really valuable to partner with the Severn Teaching School Alliance and Telford Culture Zone to develop a team of Specialist Teachers of the Arts. These teachers will be able to offer CPD for other schools as well as be ambassadors for the value of the arts as part of a balanced curriculum.”

Pepita Hanna