Practice makes perfect

10th November 1995 at 00:00
Artists in Residence: A teacher's handbook, St Katherine and Shadwell Trust #163;5. 0 94778428X

They do exciting things you don't do with your own teacher," said Billie aged six, after a drama group had visited her school. "Look what it has created. Everyone who sees it walks away talking about it", said Dunbar Marshall, Fred Housego's art teacher at Kynaston School, describing a new and controversial piece of modern art in the school.

As arts services run by local authorities disappear and schools acquire their own purchasing power, albeit one which is limited and varies from year to year, artists' residencies in schools become more popular. Yet however enthusiastic teaching staff may be, there is something daunting about setting up such a new form of interaction in the fairly rigid structure of a school. This handy booklet, its publication supported by The TES and the London Arts Board, offers enthusiasm and practical advice,from sample contracts and briefs for schools to offer visiting artists, to budgets, contact addresses, a booklist and database contacts.

It is really aimed at schools in London, and the personal accounts which enliven its practical suggestions are taken from the capital , but it could be useful for any school wishing to "expand the imagination" as Fred Housego, one-time Brain of Britain, East-End boy made good and broadcaster,urges.

The most inspiring parts of the booklet are those which offer detailed suggestions for feeding the benefits of the artists' residency into the whole school community, both through some of the more obvious means such as performance and display, through subtler means like involvement of individual parents and the apparently casual, but important observation by pupils.

People always tend to pay lip service to the importance of the arts in human development. With this publication teachers are guided into integrating that into their daily practice.

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