A SCHEME that will help cash-strapped schools to keep teaching arts in the light of budget cuts will start in September.

Bradford College has created the Margaret McMillan Centre for Arts and Education, which will see arts tutors at the college working with local schools to teach young people skills from drama to film-making.

It will mean pupils will not miss out on being taught the arts – even if schools have to cut back on staff.

Although the Government says it is protecting school budgets, most schools and teaching unions say they face real-terms budget cuts due to issues including rising pension and National Insurance contributions.

It has led to many schools having to consider cutting staff, with some even considering dropping the teaching of certain subjects.


The new programme is a collaboration for the college’s arts and teaching departments, and as well as schools benefiting from the college’s arts expertise, trainee teachers will get invaluable training in how to teach arts. Initially it will involve primary schools, which are less likely to have any teachers trained in arts.

During the project, the college will research the impact of arts in the education system.

Damien O’Keeffe, head of the School of Creative Industries at the college, said: “We want to share our resources and help support young people’s experiences of arts.

“Schools are constantly being squeezed, and this means staff often don’t have a speciality in art. If we can do something to boost what schools can do to give children the best possible arts curriculum then that is ideal.”

Initially the scheme will be funded through the local education partnerships and Bradford Council. Mr O’Keeffe added: “We have contacted schools to find out what areas are most pressing. We will be running sessions on arts like print-making, ceramics, film-making and drama. Hopefully it will soon become self-sustaining, although we’ll be offering it for free in the first year.

“As well as people from the college we can pull in people from other arts organisations so we have a large network of practitioners. It all depends on what the schools want.

“Our teacher education department has lots of trainees, and we can involve them in this as part of their training.

“There is also the research side, we will look at the data to see what the impact of arts in school is on attainment. At the end of the two-year project we hope to hold a national conference on arts in education involving practitioners from across the country.

“Coming from Bradford and having experience working with young people here, I know how much arts in my school changed my life. The more support we can give to schools to keep teaching art the better.”