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Working in schools

Freelance artists are increasingly finding opportunities to work in schools. Here is some advice for artists who are new to working in schools:

Research, and approaching schools

  • Get in touch with your local arts and education officer - they may be able to recommend you to schools. Also, you could make contact with arts organisations who work in your artform in schools - they may have opportunities for you.

  • Schools prefer to employ artists who are aware of the national curriculum. Many schools use QCA schemes of work, so it could be to your advantage to be aware of these too. Many artists develop a package designed to deliver particular units from QCA schemes of work. Be prepared to devise something tailored to the school’s needs, as well as considering developing a package.

  • You must have a valid CRB check and public liability insurance to work in schools. Visit our 'Planning for safety' page for details and contacts. It is also useful if you have a reference you can show schools.

Planning your work with a school

  • You will usually be allocated one named teacher to plan the work with. They should inform you of any relevant school policies (for example health and safety, child protection). Make sure you agree the aims and outcomes of your work. Also agree what monitoring and evaluation strategies will be used. Find out about the school day and how this might affect your work. Make sure you are clear about session start and finish times, pupil numbers and spaces you will be expected to work in. 

  • If possible, try to meet the pupils you will be working with before the beginning of your project. At the very least, find out about students’ special needs, behavioural issues and physical and learning requirements in advance, so that you can cater for them.

  • Ensure you receive adequate resources and support from the school and its teachers. If necessary, clarify who will provide any equipment and materials. Make sure a teacher pro-actively works with you throughout your workshops.

  • Remember that teachers are very busy people, and often can't get to the phone. Try calling at lunchtime or before or after the school day.

  • Every school is unique. External and internal factors influence operations and achievement in schools, meaning each is individual in its own right. Always research and plan for the specific school you are working in.


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