Highly effective secondary school teachers work collegiately (Shah 2012), and increasingly do so outside of individual institutions (e.g. within MAT clusters [Birks 2019]). Beyond professional efficacy, learning to establish and maintain strong collegiate relationships is argued an important factor in personal wellbeing within the field (Retallick & Butt 2004), and in maintaining a sense of disciplinary connectivity (Hausman & Goldring 2001). This second benefit is an increasingly important concern in an English context where authentic subject-specificity in educational provision is now mandated (Ofsted 2019). For art and design practitioners a collaborative, inter-institutional approach to professional development has particular capacity to deliver value, given the small and therefore potentially isolated, subject faculty characteristic of English secondary schools, and the inherently dialogic nature of artistic subject content.
Modelling effective means of inter-institutional knowledge share is difficult within the bounds of traditional initial teacher education (ITE) programme design and its associated classroom environments, either in school or on campus. This project was therefore established as a novel pedagogic means for art and design student teachers to interact inter-institutionally, sharing their experiences of disciplinary ITE to both reinforce their synergistic learning, and extend their understanding through comparison to peers from alternate contexts.
A conference for art and design ITE students from four geographically disparate postgraduate programmes of teacher education was facilitated at a central London gallery – a genuine opportunity for students to work with and learn from others from beyond native student communities. Twelve individual participants volunteered to share reflections on their developing practice through short presentations, and wider critical dialogue was facilitated between students from different ITE providers. It was hoped that the student-centered event might model the process of working inter-organisationally, and in so doing, (a) provide the applicable skills and motivational benefits of doing so successfully to novice art and design teachers and (b) through shared student-led academic presentations, simultaneously cross pollinate the curricula of four leading HEI Art and Design ITE providers.
Student teacher attendees were questioned about their perception of the event, its pedagogic value, and its personal relevance to their developing professional practice. Hybrid thematic analysis (Fereday & Muir-Cochrane 2006) was applied to the resultant data, and findings evaluated such that student teachers’ perceptions of the event’s value could be better understood. Findings are discussed in this presentation, and will inform the developing ambition of future national, inter-institutional art and design ITE events. The foci of these events will be adapted, to best ensure that this developing endeavour can visibly encourage disciplinary collegiately in the professional field of secondary school art and design education. In a context of increasingly fragmented schooling structures (West et al. 2022), diminished student teacher agency and homogenised ITE curricula (Menter et al. 2012), recognition among student art and design teachers that disciplinary collegiality is not only possible, but a potent force for promotion of shared values and practice, is argued a critical concern for the future of art and design education.
Grant, W. (2023, September). An art and design initial teacher education student conference: Seeking value in inter-institutional ITE student knowledge share. Paper presented at British Educational Research Association Conference 2023, Aston University