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Developing Representation Through Arts and Creativity

In this section

  • Developing approaches to representation – finding what’s right for your setting
  • Connecting to other schools and partners for expertise
  • Further CPD


Developing approaches to representation – finding what’s right for your setting

Ensuring every child and young person can see themselves represented in their curriculum, resources, opportunities and the school life they are offered is a key responsibility of every school. All pupils need to develop an appreciation, understanding and tolerance of difference and should be supported to do so. This can be achieved by ensuring that there is a breadth and balance of genres, artists, text, art forms and content, to help prepare children and young people for their future. Working with arts and cultural partners can help to ensure authenticity and lived experience.

Mount Pleasant Junior School in Southampton is a multi-ethnic school which has made this a priority by creating a dedicated space in the centre of the school for their ‘Bibliotheca’, a cultural library. This is a warm and inviting space where pupils can access a wide range of stories, plays and poems representing a global range of cultures, values and belief. The film below shows what this means to the pupils and staff in the school.

One of our Creative Development Networks brought together a small group of art leads from five rural schools in Bucks and Oxon to explore how working collaboratively could address common challenges. They focused on how they could ensure representation and diversity is presented authentically in their curriculums.

“This programme has enabled me to link with other schools of similar demographic and understand that we all face very similar challenges. It highlighted to me areas for development within the school and how we can improve our curriculum offer and culture to educate our pupils in understanding the world around them.”
– Victoria Holford, Art Lead, Cuddington & CE Dinton School, Bucks

Our Creative Development Network with De La Warr Pavilion and seven East Sussex schools developed approaches to equality, diversity, representation and anti-racist practice in schools through arts, culture and creativity. The programme was inspired by Zineb Sedira’s exhibition which enabled staff and pupils to experience the work of a multicultural artist and discuss culture, migration and the sea as a transitional space.

“Our participation in this programme has led to the school’s first stand-alone project to use art and creativity to address diversity and anti-racist practice. Myself and the Deputy Headteacher are on [Artswork’s] course called Representation in [the Primary] Arts Curriculum and all teachers have attended unconscious bias training. We will be reviewing the representation in our Art and Design curriculum and making changes to it in the coming months. Taking part in this project has been a strong starting point for the Art and Design curriculum development.”
– Jemima Hipkiss, Art Lead, Little Common Primary School, Bexhill on Sea

Connecting to other schools and partners for expertise

Diversity offers children the chance to see themselves reflected in the world and to extend their understanding of the communities and people around them. Links with other schools are a useful route to bring such diversity to schools and where those links are international, they can bring a global perspective. Jonathan Harris of The Premier Academy in Bletchley has contributed to several of our projects and events. He has developed links with schools overseas through the British Council’s Schools Connect programme and the Global Science Opera and shared how shared creative activities have forged connections between his pupils and their fellows in other parts of the world in two of our Creativity Champions programmes.

Further CPD

Artswork’s website offers a selection of useful resources and CPDL opportunities to help develop representative practice in schools. We have a collection of resources and audio recordings from our ‘Embedding anti-racist and representative practice in your arts curriculum' CPD session delivered with Representation in Drama, which collated a useful list of texts, tools and resources. We are continuing to support schools with our new course which has been developed with expert practitioners Race Matters called ‘Representation in the Primary Arts Curriculum’. There will be more information on this course available on our website soon.

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