An Inspector writes

2nd May 1997 at 01:00
Q Can you offer some practical suggestions as to how we can show we are providing for cultural development. The Inspection Handbook gives only broad advice and people generally seem vague about the matter.

A In evaluating cultural development, inspectors will look for evidence that the school teaches pupils to appreciate and develop their own cultural traditions and appreciate the diversity and richness of other cultures.

You might find it helpful to:

* relate play - artefacts, toys, construction and dressing up materials and clothes - to children's developing awareness of different cultures and build into your programmes of story and literature a generous component drawn from other cultures, communities and countries;

* encourage pupils and parents from different communities and ethnic groups to contribute their own stories, poetry and literature through social occasions in class, in festivals and celebrations, in presentations to younger children, through taped and videoed recordings, through themaking of books, journals and personal written records;

* make story, literature, dance and song from a range of cultures an important part of book weeks and a regular feature of school assemblies;

* invite story-tellers and poets from different ethnic backgrounds and cultures to contribute to such occasions;

* make music, dance and song from different cultures a component of music education in the school, encouraging pupils from different ethnic groups to demonstrate their knowledge and skill. Build on this by inviting musicians from different cultural traditions to perform on occasions in the school; display collections of musical instruments from a range of cultures;

* use collections of art and artefacts from different ages, cultures and traditions to help pupils appreciate the vitality, beauty, complexity and significance of human creativity in all times and places;

* with history and geography, help pupils to a recognition, understanding and appreciation of various cultures, including their own;

* feed this information into assemblies which look at the achievements of people from different cultures who have influenced the development of civilisation;

* look for opportunities to help pupils understand how in their own everyday environment, different cultures, languages, music and literature interact upon and influence each other and how particular disciplines - mathematics, astronomy, navigation, architecture and fashion - have developed out of diverse and ancient cultures;

* through drama, explore andrepresent stories, events and traditions from various cultures;

* create an overall ethos and ambience where pupils from different cultures and traditions feel encouraged to contribute from their particular experience, knowledge and skills to the fuller life of the school;

* make as much provision as possible for pupils to visit exhibitions, displays, museums, art galleries, concerts and events with a wide cultural reference;

* use educational visits both at home and abroad to promote pupils' cultural awareness;

* make links with other schools with ethnically diverse intakes and a wide cultural tradition.

Bill Laar is a registered inspector. Write to him co The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY. Fax:0171 782 3200

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