12th January 2001 at 00:00
The term only a week or so old, New Year's resolutions not entirely abandoned and the school flu epidemic yet to come: arts teachers will still be full of ideas, plans and projects.

To help them, there are three new websites. The Royal Society of Arts launches officially on Monday, the DfEE-funded is in a pilot phase (for launch in March), and is already available.

The RSA's site is an excellent aid to keeping abreast of changes in arts education, and busy teachers will be particularly grateful for the summaries of current research. The RSA report Guaranteeing an Entitlement to the Arts in Schools, for instance, first published in written form in 1995, can now be updated monthly. There is a summary of last autumn's RSANational Foundation for Educational Research report, Arts Education in Secondary Schools: Effects and Effectiveness, and of Investing in the Arts, a guide to carrying out an arts audit in schools and arts organisations. The latter will help teachers assess their work and give their schools a focus for improving it. There will also be analysis of official and non-government surveys, initiatives and policy statements about arts education. So, just so long as you can get a turn at the staff-room computer, there will never be an excuse for not being up to date.

The AccessArt site aims to give teachers, pupils and the public access to some of the ideas used by museums, galleries and arts organisations. Visual, interactive workshops are being developed, including What is Sculpture?, an introduction already available for key stage 2. To talk to the organisers about the site's development, ring 01223 236615.

Anyone planning a group theatre trip to London will benefit from The site also summarises education initiatives run by the 52 members of the Society of London Theatres and provides details o Kids Week. From August 24 to 31 a child aged five to 16 can visit the theatre free with a paying adult who can also take two other children at half price. There are accommodation and transport deals available and there will be other associated events such as backstage visits and workshops. To get on to the mailing list, email:; or send your name and address to Kids Week, SOLT, 32 Rose Street. London WC2E 9ET.

The National Student Drama Festival has a new director, Nick Stimson. He has written and directed many shows for young people at the Young Vic in London and at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth, and is keen to attract more schools to NSDF. The 46th festival, supported as usual by The Sunday Times, will take place at its now familiar venue in Scarborough from April 4 to 11.

Participants do not have to be with a selected show: there will be a full programme of performances and workshops led by outstanding professionals, many of whom attended the festival as students. Playwrights John Godber and Stephen Jeffreys and actors Simon Russell Beale, Henry Goodman and Cathy Tyson are among those who have taken part in previous years. For information about the festival: 01723 501106; Bristol is the setting for schoolchildren to encounter Aboriginal art during the next few months when the exhibition, The Earth for Us, is at the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum, Clock Tower Yard, Temple Meads. Francis Firebrace, an elder of the Yorta Yorta people, will be telling traditional stories full of ancient wisdom and philosophy. There will be didgeridoo playing and examples of contemporary Aboriginal art - glass sculpture and textiles as well as painting and pottery. Two hundred local children are already working on Australian topics, so the Antipodes will be well and truly at home in the West Country this spring. Information from the museum: 0117 925 4980.

Heather Neill

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