For art and design teachers, one effect of the ever-increasing pressures on schools is the impact on their own creativity. Bigger classes, less time - especially at key stage 3 - and the need to improve examination results, all sap the vitality of teachers. And, scandalously, secondary art and design departments receive on average pound;2.88 per pupil per year for materials, according to the Office for Standards in Education. It is hardly surprising that many visual arts teachers no longer have the energy to continue with their own creative work.
Artists' residencies in schools have often helped to connect "school art" to the world of contemporary arts practice, but they sometimes add to teachers' feelings of alienation from their own art work. So the National Society for Education in Art and Design and the Arts Council of England has launched a ground-breaking Artist Teacher Scheme.
This is a professional development project enabling artist-teachers to review and develop their own creative work. The scheme is intended to raise standards in art and design education by relating pedagogy and research to the highest levels of contemporary art practice. It will encourage lifelong learning b developing strong links between teachers, galleries, museums, higher education institutions and artists.
Artist-teachers will gain better access to arts organisations, art galleries and artists' studios. the scheme will also offer the chance for artist-teachers to receive appropriate accreditation at post-graduate level - although it is equally important that teachers have the chance to experience the scheme through "one-off" in-service days or summer schools without the longer commitment.
Pilot weeks took place last summer in collaboration with John Moores University, Wimbledon School of Art and the London and Liverpool Tate Galleries. Reactions to these pilots were extremely positive. To quote one teacher, "The categorisation artist-teacher is empowering. It places us within the art world as both producers and imparters of creativity."
The NSEAD wants to hear from other teachers all over the UK who would like to be involved. Ultimately we feel sure that this scheme will have a positive impact on the vitality and quality of art and design education.
John Steers is general secretary of the National Society for Education in Art and Design, The Gatehouse, Corsham Court, Corsham, Wilts SN13 OBZ. Tel: 01249 714 825.www. nsead.orgINSET officer: firstname.lastname@example.org