Category Archives: Arts education

Drawing and painting class

Great work being produced at our evening class for high school kids and grown ups.


This 6 week course aims to develop observation skills and to enable students to create the illusion of 3D using light and shade as well as begin to understand composition . We are exploring drawing and painting, using pencil, charcoal, collage and paint.

Using large decorating brushes and just black and white paint the group really enjoyed making these large scale pieces.. and look how confident these paintings are… and its only week 3!


I can


If you are interested in joining this course please contact us!


FREE Art Workshops at Huddersfield Art Gallery

Working with Huddersfield Art Gallery and  the University of Huddersfield we are excited to announce our first FREE Art Workshop as part of the Rotor series of exhibitions.

The first workshop for young people aged 11-16yrs is on Saturday January 14th 1-3pm at Huddersfield Art Gallery.
This workshops will explore the ‘ Migrations’ exhibition and facilitate drawing and making as a response to the art works.
This Workshop is FREE but booking is essential as places are limited.
Contact Chloe 07806334728 /

Migrations is an exhibition of textile pieces curated by Prof Jessica Hemmings and is part of the ROTOR exhibitions developed by Huddersfield University.

Letter 2

…a further communication with our MP about creativity in education

I believe it is disingenuous to suggest that schools/teachers/parents actively want academisation.  Academisation ultimately will allow business to run education with no involvement from parents: how can this ever be in our children’s best interests? I have not met any parents who support this (both personally and in my role as Director of The Children’s Art School).
The line ‘driving up standards’ is misleading. I can tell you that the standard of children’s ability and confidence in being creative and of hands on making and manipulating materials is going down. I can tell you as a parent that I don’t care what ‘level’ my child is at. I want to know that they are confident, can problem solve for themselves and that they are enthusiastic about learning. There are far too many children struggling with all of those things because the classroom environment and the emphasis on passive learning  to pass tests is not conducive to meaningful learning. And there are too many children being made to feel as though they are failing because their strengths do not lie in academic subjects.
You say you want what’s best for our children so I would also ask you to consider the need for our children to learn to be creative.  Perhaps you could answer these questions:
  • Why is your party actively pushing arts out of our education system?
  • Why do its policies not take into account and look to embracing our children’s differences?
  • Why do the policies not support diverse learning experiences?
  • How do you defend the way your government has actively undermined the value of creativity in our education system?
  • How do you respond to what I have said about the need for creativity in education and the need to give our children the ability to think for themselves?
I hope you will reconsider the importance of creativity in our children’s lives and education as a vital ingredient for their successful futures.

Acadamisation: bad for creativity

My letter to our local MP about the Governments proposed plans for acadamisation


I am writing to implore you not to support the governments plans for academisation. I cannot understand how the evidence provided by the existing acadamies can be taken to suggest that this is a sensible or desirable option.
I set up The Children’s Art School as a response to the under-valuing of art education and to champion and promote arts experiences as a crucial part of a our children’s education in terms of child development and well-being, in terms of developing innovative and original thinkers who have the skills to tackle whatever the future has in store for them and in terms of the future of our creative industries.
Through various roles within art education I have become increasingly worried about the lack of focus, at both primary and secondary level, on creative thinking.
I cannot understand why this government continues to place no value in teaching children to be creative. The creative sector of this country has been globally admired for decades and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport itself published  figures revealing that our creative industries are now worth £84.1 billion per year to the UK economy and generate nearly £9.6million per hour. As the creative industries continue to grow, we need to nurture the future generations of talent that this industry will need.
Teaching children and young people to be creative however is not just about creating artists and designers for the creative industries. All industries, from medicine, to computers to banking need innovators and original thinkers.

Heres a quote from our website:

A good place to start when trying to explain the value of art education is by asking ‘what does art do that maths doesn’t?’  Here are some answers:

art teaches you to make your own decisions
art teaches you to consider alternative solutions
art teaches you that mistakes can be opportunities
art teaches you to take risks
art promotes curiosity
art teaches reflective thinking
art develops problem-solving skills
art allows you to be yourself
art facilitates a sense of achievement and well-being

Creativity is crucial for our childrens futures. In order to meet the challenges that they will be faced with they will need to be INNOVATIVE. They will need to be good at PROBLEM-SOLVING and at looking for ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS. They will need to have the confidence to think their own thoughts and make their own decisions.
Art Education is not about encouraging all children to become artists or designers (although the creative industries do generate £8 million per hour and is the fastest growing sector of the British economy) It is about equiping children with skills that will enable them to be successful in all areas of their lives.

We are also faced with the challenge of an increasingly digital world. And yet, for young children, the opportunity to explore the physicality of the world around them is understood to be crucial. Art education for young children offers:
engagement with the physical world
exploration of materials
learning through doing
development of fine motor skills
development of communication skills
development of problem solving.

Art education allows children to experiment, to find things out for themselves, to make their own decisions and to have the confidence to take risks. Quite simply art can teach children to be  innovative.

Jason,  Acadamisation and the Ebacc support a one size fits all approach to education which is bad for our children’s development, bad for our creative industries and bad for our childrens mental health and well-being. I cannot understand what it is your government is trying to do and my fears for the future of our education system is keeping me awake at night.

Support for Cultural Education

More support for cultural education:

The chairman of Arts Council England argues that ‘all pupils should have the opportunity to create, compose, and perform their own artistic work’

Through art and culture, we come to understand and articulate ourselves. They engage us in a dialogue about values; they define our national identity and our concept of citizenship. They hand down the tradition,  the ideas and the language that make us confident innovators. Art and culture bring us joy, help us to reflect and empathise. They benefit us educationally, economically and socially.

All this is especially pertinent in schools – where it all begins. Classrooms brimming with creativity bring learning to life, enabling children to reach their full potential right across the curriculum. That’s why art and culture are a key element of the early years foundation stage curriculum, used to develop knowledge, understanding and skills across a broad range of subjects.

Many schools provide a fantastic cultural education offer, with arts and creativity running through all subjects. But it can be tempting to narrow choice to focus on improvement in core subjects like maths and English. We know, however, that young people who engage with the arts are happier, and have improved concentration and higher aspiration, which ultimately impact on all aspects of their education. Children need to have opportunities to experience the arts through the statutory arts curriculum, so that they can choose to pursue them at key stage 4 and beyond. It is vital that arts and culture are not squeezed out, with high-quality cultural experiences available to all young people, regardless of background.

Looking beyond the playground, creative skills are becoming an increasingly valuable currency for young people in securing future prospects, given that one in 20 new jobs is currently coming from the creative industries.

Last week, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport published new figures revealing that our creative industries are now worth £84.1 billion per year to the UK economy and generate nearly £9.6million per hour. As the creative industries continue to grow, we need to nurture the future generations of talent that this industry will need.

At the Arts Council, we believe that every child should have the opportunity to create, compose and perform their own artistic work, be it dance, drama, literature, visual arts or music. They should all be able to visit, experience and participate in the extraordinary artistic work of others. They should know more, understand more, and be able to critically review the cultural experiences they’ve had.

We know that art and culture transform children and young people’s lives for the better.

And while all our children deserve a rich cultural education, not all of them are getting it. While research shows that engagement with arts and culture among children and young people is crucial to developing life-long habits, we also know that in some areas, this is perceived as less of a priority. And we also know that those from the most deprived backgrounds are least likely to engage with cultural activities.

We need to address this now and close the gaps. This is at a time when, more than ever, we need to free all the talent we have at our nation’s disposal.

Last October, the Arts Council launched the Cultural Education Challenge. This is a call to action: to schools, cultural providers and to local authorities, challenging them to join together in cultural education partnerships to ensure that even more children and young people can experience art and culture, regardless of who they are or where they live.

These new networks across the arts and education sectors will shape new ways of increasing access for all children and young people. By 2018, we aim for 50 of these partnerships to be up and running throughout England.

We need to talk more about this – and we need to work together to ensure better networks of provision that will reach every child, no matter where they start in life, so that every child can enjoy a quality cultural education and the benefits that come with it.

Arts and culture are among our greatest assets as a nation; we are internationally renowned for our creativity. Let’s join together to make sure that the cultural education of our children is too.

Why our children will need to be Creative

Why our children will NEED to be creative..

I have been sharing 2 really interesting and thought provoking articles this week- both touch on the theme of how best to equip our children for the future. The first is a TED talk .. .

And the second is this article :

Want Your Children to Survive The Future?

Send Them to Art School

Can you imagine a world in which most jobs are obsolete?

If not, you are most likely in for a rude awakening in the coming decades of radical shifts in employment. This is particularly true for new parents propelling the next generation of workers into an adulthood that many economists and futurists predict to be the first ever “post-work” society.

Though the idea of a jobless world may seem radical, the prediction is based on the natural trajectory of ‘creative destruction’ — that classic economic principle by which established industries are decimated when made irrelevant by new technologies.

When was the last time you picked up the hot new single from your local sheet music store? Many moons ago sheet music was the music industry, with the only available means of hearing pop songs being to have a musician read and perform them. This quickly eroded with the advent of the phonograph, leading to a record industry that dominated the last century and is now itself eroding due to the explosive growth of independent online publishing.

It’s hard to justify using a massive workforce of recording engineers, media manufacturers, distributors, and talent scouts to accomplish a task that a musician can now do by herself in an afternoon with just a laptop. The same goes for the millions of skilled labor and manufacturing jobs that will soon be crumpled by 3D printingtechnology, the thousands of retailers whose staff and storefronts can readily be supplanted by automated delivery systems, or the dwindling hospitalityand transportation industries currently being pecked away by app-based sharing services like Airbnb and Uber.

Never heard of 3D printing, ridesharing, or “post-work” theory? That’s okay; you can just Google them. In fact, thanks to Google we may now add the very concept of knowledge itself to our growing list of no-longer-scarce resources. When anyone can access the world’s greatest library from their cellphone, even the long-revered skill of knowing things loses its marketability.

The Art School Solution

If preparing your kids for a world in which hard-working, knowledgeable people are unemployable frightens you then I have some good news. There is a solution, and it doesn’t involve tired, useless attempts at suppressing technology. Like most good solutions it requires a trait that is distinctly human.

I’m speaking about Creativity.

Send your kids to art school. Heavily invest time and resources into their creative literacy. Do these things and they will stand a chance at finding work and or fulfillment in a future where other human abilities become irrelevant.

Any adult reading this at the time of publication came of age in an era when parents urged children to learn a subject that would funnel straight into a specific career field. Even those parents who encouraged their children’s creative dreams did so with an addendum that we should also consider getting a degree in a practical field that “you can always fall back on if sculpture/philosophy/theater/poetry doesn’t work out”. No doubt this protective instinct was a smart one considering the reality of our youth. An arts education might promise a life of self-discovery, but there has always been reasonably assured financial stability in the high-demand arenas of science, education, skilled trades, governments, etc. Surely that dynamic won’t last much longer as more and more physical and mental human tasks are commandeered by machines and software.

Photo courtesy of Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment

I don’t say this to dismiss the importance of any field of study. A world without scientists or doctors or teachers would be just as broken as a world with no artists. Without programmers and engineers the very technologies that make life efficient would quickly disappear. But with the abundance of information and tools freely accessible online to a generation of youngsters equipped with computers from toddlerhood, it’s safe to assume that those who want to maintain current technology have few obstacles in learning how to do so — No degree required. The same goes for any pragmatic skill.

The arts, however, are a polar opposite to pragmatism. Cameras have long exceeded our ability to realistically and efficiently render images, but still our love of painting remains to this day. By now we know that the value of a great painting isn’t in its accuracy at rendering a view but in the artist’s unique capacity to convey a viewpoint. Even those uninterested in “fine” art are driven to make purely aesthetic decisions on practical matters such as clothing, shelter, and transportation. Our willingness to pay extra for beautiful clothes, inviting homes, and sleek cars is motivated not by functionality but by emotionality.

It’s inherently human to want the objects in our lives to communicate feelings and ideas to us and about us. The constant searching for and assignment of meaning dwells in everyone, but the artist is the person who exercises this muscle regularly enough to control it. The person with creative literacy — a basic understanding of the mental, emotional, and sociological tools used for creative thought and communication — is able to find purpose and apply meaning to her world rather than having meaning handed down and purpose assigned to her. The painting student completes his senior thesis exhibit with a head full of many more lessons than just how to paint. He’s now equipped with an ability to see problems, connections, and solutions where others see only a blank surface. I assure you this ability is not limited to the canvas.

Photo Courtesy of Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment

I’m not saying anything new here. These qualities of a liberal arts education have been expounded by its proprietors for ages, but with major industries quickly running out of a need for worker bees it’s becoming clearer by the day that our professors were right.

In fact it’s somewhat amazing that this idea was ever in question. Humanity’s highest-paid workers have always been those who as a result of their innovations created opportunity for others to work.

There’s a reason Steve Jobs became a billionaire, and it’s not because he could program computers.

Of course history is also filled with countless stories of equally creative figures lost in the systemic grind of working for the Steve Jobs’s of the world. We’ve all known brilliant people, seemingly not made for our time, whose potential was crushed by dead end jobs after their work was rejected by the film/music/publishing/anything industries. The excuse of being ahead of one’s time can no longer apply though. We live in an age where a person speaking into a webcam can collectively raise hundreds of thousands of dollars just by telling people about a good idea. The gatekeepers are gone and they are not coming back. Our only remaining obstacle can be lack of good ideas.

It’s time for a revolution in education that reflects our new reality and gives students the necessary tools to survive it. Technological advancements will always outpace the offerings of the traditional classroom, making it entirely purposeless to force memorization of knowledge that may become irrelevant before children even graduate. Instead we should hone the skill that best ensures adaptability and resourcefulness during times of constant change.

It’s time for the creative classroom.

But what about STEM?

Does this revolution require us to toss out math or science or history? Does my ideal future classroom wedge would-be physicists into an endless curriculum of figure drawing classes?

Absolutely not!

Let children pursue their own interests and they will find their way to all areas of study as part of the exploratory process. Let the child who is in love with fire trucks continue to obsess over fire trucks. With proper guidance he will soon find himself learning civics, engineering, history, physics, chemistry, sociology, economics, and everything in between — all of his questions fueled by a simple aesthetic attachment to the pretty red fire truck.

No healthy child is born without an innate sense of wonder about their world. However, this childhood compulsion to explore is a bud quickly snipped by adults conditioned to fear the unknown. The tradition of discouraging unusual questions and behavior in children is so pervasive that we have come to view those who survive with their creativity intact as having a “gift”. What is more absurd is our amazement at the correlation of great artists and mental illness, as if the battle for self-expression which artists so tenaciously endure has no causal link to their psychic well-being.

Photo Courtesy of Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment

The change that will secure your children’s safe passage through the future comes when we strip creativity of its mysterious, unearthly status. Artists are not magical geniuses. We are simply people who were either privileged enough or stubborn enough to hold onto something that every living person is “gifted” at birth. Assume that your children have limitless creative potential and begin to nurture it. Assume that your children’s ingenuity is the one true safety net available in times of rapid change. Send your kids to art school and they will have exactly what they need to become anything they might need to be.

I speak from experience.

Photo by Eric Schultz, Huntsville Times

Dustin Timbrook is an artist in Huntsville, Alabama who works in many mediums and creative fields. He currently serves as Media Director of America’s largest independent arts facility,Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment, and is Creative Director for the marketing company Red Brick Strategies.

He is co-founder of Happenin Records, an Alabama record label that helps finance, produce, and promote dozens of independent musical acts.

He is also founder of the Huntsville Artist Engineer Network, and co-founder of STE(A)M Fest, an annual event that promotes creativity in the STEM subjects to thousands of Huntsville students.

He has a Masters in Education from University of Montevallo, but had to fall back on his painting degree when public education didn’t work out.

Originally published at on February 10, 2015.

Why we need Art in Education

Last week I was talking in assemblies at Holmfirth High School about creativity and the need for education to develop creative thinking
I was therefore pleased to see this article in The Observer this weekend which echoes some of what I was taking about..

From hit shows such as War Horse and Sherlock to the singing star Adele and sought-after architects and designers Zaha Hadid and Thomas Heatherwick, British creative knowhow has basked in the international limelight for more than a decade. The world wants our creative thinking and artistic talent.

But that leading position is in jeopardy, says a report due out on Tuesday. A new emphasis on creative thinking among foreign competitors has underlined a growing threat to Britain’s worldwide standing in the arts.

While schools are being urged to concentrate on maths and science, much of the rest of the developed world is embarking on an “arts race” for soft diplomatic power and creative status.

The historically strong tradition of hit cultural exports across performance, art and design will not continue into the next decade if the plans of rival foreign investors come good.

Countries as far away as China, South Korea and Brazil have learned from British success and are investing heavily in their creative economies, according to research carried out by BOP Consulting in collaboration with the Creative Industries Federation to mark the cultural lobbying organisation’s first birthday this week. European neighbours France, Germany and Italy are doing much the same thing.

The stories you need to read, in one handy email
Read more
China has recently made the creative industries a “main pillar” of its national economy, while Taiwan has shifted its curriculum towards the encouragement of creative thinking. In the US there is also increased understanding of the significance of a cultural education, with San Francisco voting for a 50% rise in grant-funding for the San Francisco Arts Commission to secure the future of its cultural scene.

Speaking before the release of the research, designer and philanthropist Sir John Sorrell, chair of the CIF, said that, while George Osborne’s autumn statement had endorsed Britain’s creative industries, there was no scope for complacency. “Other countries now also see the economic value of culture and are investing heavily,” he said. “The Chinese want things to be perceived as ‘designed in China’, not ‘made in China’.”

Of real concern to his federation members is the push to get the EBacc adopted in Britain for at least 90% of secondary pupils. This has no creative component, takes up the space of seven or eight GCSEs in the curriculum and so, they argue, prevents many students from furthering their artistic interests in other subjects.

Last week leading actors and musicians wrote to the Times to complain about the impact of the widescale imposition of the “narrow” EBacc. “In order to stay at the top we need to invest in the future, especially in creativity in schools, where the number of pupils taking design and technology has halved in the past decade,” said Sorrell. “That is cutting off the skills pipeline we need for future success.”

The new international comparisons study, carried out by Callum Lee and Lucy Minyo of BOP Consulting for the federation, is part of The C.Report, a survey of the CIF’s first year of work which is intended as a curtain-raiser to further studies of levels of foreign investment and sponsorship of the arts.

John Kampfner, chief executive of CIF, believes that Britain’s artistic pre-eminence has been built on sustained levels of investment from the lottery and from government, underpinned by creative education in schools.

“But we risk putting our hard-earned reputation and economic vibrancy at risk if we undermine the infrastructure that supports a thriving arts and creative industries sector, with creative education currently the biggest hole in central government policy,” he said.

“It should not be possible for a school to be deemed outstanding if its students are deprived of a quality cultural education, in and out of the curriculum. A reduction in the number of pupils with creative skills can only have damaging repercussions for the creative economy.”

Kampfner’s fears about a shrinking arts curriculum are echoed by Lizzie Crump of the Cultural Learning Alliance, who argues that government’s aim to give schools more freedom has been thwarted by their weighting in favour of EBacc during a consultation period that ends on January 29.

“Schools and teachers really do need to be trusted. Science and technology and maths are obviously important, but we need to ensure there is an arts component in the education of students too,” she said.

The number of arts teachers and hours of arts teaching in British schools are both going down, Crump said. “There will be young people, of course, who are supported in the arts by their parents, but we want a gold standard of arts education for all our children.”

Pisa (Programme for International Student Assessment) rankings, often alluded to by government, are also about to start measuring creativity. It is ironic, Crump added, that Britain is poised to pull away from the arts just as there is a global move towards monitoring these competencies in pupils.