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Pupils & learning

Guest blog: Shaping the future with art, design and craft education


Governing boards have been using the updated Art, craft and design guide, developed in collaboration between Arts Council England, the National Governance Association and NSEAD, to help them prepare for school inspections, improve pupil attainment and develop their art, design and craft offer in schools.

NSEAD have seen the difference that access to advocacy resources such as these can make for achieving excellent cultural education.

Working towards recovery

In considering what their recovery curriculum might be, many schools, encouraged by their governing board, are looking at the power of arts to support wellbeing and provide a space where pupils can be equipped and empowered to process their experiences in an increasingly complex world. We know the power of non-verbal activity – thinking, feeling, reacting. Children and young people need this activity more than ever and there are great opportunities within art, design and craft for governing boards to be aware of.

We have seen some brilliant examples of schools embracing art, craft and design education, taking advantage of local and national resources from cultural organisations. Two examples that NSEAD has endorsed are Craft School, a national schools craft challenge, launched by the Crafts Council in 2021 and Show and Tell, a project from The Photography Movement that channels the power and wonder of photography into a safe emotional outlet for children and young people. Both projects can sit brilliantly in any art, craft and design curriculum plan, or be part of your extra-curricular offer.

We are really looking forward to seeing what pupils submit for both projects and are already hearing about the positive benefits on wellbeing as well as skills development. Projects like these are a brilliant way to encourage pupils to engage with art, craft and design, with inspiring artists and themes that invite pupils to explore their own interests and practice.

Championing art, design and craft education

What can you do as a governor or trustee? We encourage schools to be outward facing, keeping in touch with local and national opportunities for pupils. You can do this through connecting with your local Bridge organisation who will be able to update you with new opportunities.

We also recommend that your school is connected with NSEAD and the other national subject associations who support art education. They can help you discover subject-specific opportunities for children and young people alongside practical training for teachers and teaching staff.

If you are struggling to find space on a packed agenda for arts and cultural learning, we would strongly recommend that you become an Artsmark school. They can support you by providing a flexible framework to embed arts and culture across the curriculum and help keep the arts firmly in your line of sight. 
Art, design and craft education is a powerful tool to help prepare pupils for all aspects of life in a global, changing world. Chris Cox, creative director at Cox London describes the power of art, craft and design education by saying, “I never underestimate the power of those teachers who introduced me to clay and plaster and showed me how to cut wood and weld metal. Each time I was taught another process I moved closer to the profession that would nourish me, both literally and mentally, for life.”

NSEAD are the subject association for art and design, advocating for high-quality art and design education across schools in England.

Explore our cultural education guides for governing boards covering dance, art, craft and design, music and creativity across the curriculum.