As part of AccessArt’s campaign to promote the importance of making in schools (#whatdidmychildmake), AccessArt is keen to identify and share success stories from schools that have created art rooms within their schools. See all school interviews here, and if your school has an art room then please get in touch to share your story.
Many thanks to Natalie Deane from Battyeford Primary School for sharing her journey from arts development officer to specialist art teacher.
Natalie graduated with a Painting & Printmaking Degree and spent 12 years working in local government as an arts officer often with responsibilities for school liaison and children and youth programmes. Later working as manager of an international artists retreat in Ireland helped Natalie realise and develop further her passion for working with young people, and the work she did running various arts projects caught the attention of the then Head at Battyeford Primary, where Natalie was later recruited as creative teacher over 10 years ago.
Initally Natalie split her time teaching at Battyeford and also working as an AST for Art & Design for the local authority (Kirklees). This enabled Natalie to work at a strategic level to impact upon visual arts teaching in the area and to collaborate with other teachers and artists. Natalie was instrumental in developing Schemes of Work across many skill areas in the visual arts, including film making. Now the AST role has been abolished, Natalie splits her time between teaching 4 days at Battyeford and working 1 day a week in a freelance capacity. Natalie’s role has evolved over the years, and now working in a PPA capacity she has had a huge impact on creativity both in the school and the wider community. Battyeford’s commitment to, and investment in the arts (via a dedicated art space run by a specialist art teacher) has paid great dividends. In 2015 Ofsted commented that “Pupils’ work in the creative arts is exceptional.” The school has been in receipt of an Artsmark Gold award for several years and Battyeford has a rich history of visual arts projects to be proud of.
Supporting Art in the School and Beyond
The art room from which Natalie works at Battyeford has attracted (and inspired) visitors from all over England. Fed by her previous experience working in local government and as a director of an arts organisation, Natalie also brings knowledge of grant-making, the importance of collaboration with the wider community and devising and running projects, all of which have fed into her work as a teacher and which have benefitted the pupils and school. Over and above providing specialist art education for all pupils in the school, Natalies creates time, space, passion and funding to run projects which extend the children’s learning far beyond the classroom.
The art room space has evolved over time into an enticing space that the children look forward to visiting. Supported by a technician, Natalie provides art lessons for every child in Key Stage 1 (in Years 1 and 2) and Key Stage 2.
Much of the activity that takes place in the art room is cross-curricular. Careful planning means Natalie can work with the teachers in advance to ensure the art lessons become central to many other subject areas, providing teachers with artwork including models, objects and ideas which are relevant to the curriculum areas they are studying.
The projects Natalie runs are far-reaching and ambitious: she strives to connect the pupils to creative adults wherever she can (either by bringing artists into the school or arranging studio or exhibition visits), nurturing connections with local and regional arts organisations, and entering the children’s art work into competitions to help it gain the recognition it deserves. Ensuring the children and parents see creativity as being valued by the school is vital in helping raise standards and creating independent, creative learners.
Natalie comments how articulate the pupils have become, able to express themselves verbally and via the artwork they make, with a deep understanding of the creative processes they have experienced.
All this could not happen without a specialist teacher, who additionally brings her skills from her previous roles to the job. Natalie comments that she wishes more teachers were able to spend more time in other roles, to widen their skills and perspectives, and equally for people from other professions to bring their skills to teaching.
Natalie continues to support other teachers, and Natalie’s input has been instrumental in setting up the art rooms at Gomersal Primary School and Crossley Field’s Infant and Junior School. Natalie leads Inset, often in partnership with Susan Coles, in the North East area, many of the classes hosted by the school with the income invested back into the art room.
Natalie also works within the school to extending creativity beyond the pupils to the parents. Families work with Natalie in small groups or on a one to one basis, for example Natalie will work with a family and learning support to devise interventions for specific pupils. Additionally Natalie runs after school sessions for children and parents, especially in Early Years, providing an opportunity for the very youngest of pupils to get used to the art room and all it can offer.
Find out more
The school website shares the creative activities via a dedicated section: http://www.battyefordprimary.com/the-arts-battyeford/
See Resources by Natalie Deane on AccessArt: