A taste of what's happening around the country.
Should authors be 'qualified' to visit schools?
12th Jun 12
NAWE, the National Association of Writers in Education, has criticised a proposed qualification for those including authors, poets and illustrators who work creatively with children in schools.
The proposed qualification for 'Creative Practitioners Working with Children and Young People' would mean them having to study health and safety, child welfare and 'planning, delivering and evaluating creative learning activities'.
The draft proposal is based on research carried out by Creative & Cultural Skills in 2010, and is funded by Arts Council England.
NAWE said in a statement that the proposed qualification actually 'goes against all models of good practice established', stating that authors are being employed as 'artists, not as child development workers'.
NAWE is also concerned about the implicit need for a 'license to practice'.
Authors have reacted angrily to the proposals. Author Michaela Morgan said, "What would this proposal achieve? All it would do would do is provide jobs for arts administrators, bureaucrats and confirm the dreaded 'plan', 'deliver', 'assess', 'tick box' mode of operating which has already blighted our lives and educations."
She added, "It focuses on health and safety, child development etc etc which are more appropriate subjects to cover with teachers and teaching assistants.
"Authors and artists are not teachers. We come into schools to provide the fresh air of creativity and different approaches."
Morgan said, "If professional bodies want to support creative work in school it would be more direct, simple and effective if they contributed to the costs of having artists and writers in schools - as they do in Scotland and Wales and as they used to do in England."
Authors also point to the wealth of experience that they have developed during years of schools events - many also come from a teaching background themselves.
Alan Gibbons responded to the survey (which closed last week), saying, "There is a huge reservoir of experience among the writers and artists who currently visit schools. They are CRB checked and often have a huge body of creative work behind them and an extensive history of educational projects.
"There can be no licensing without a recognition of and respect for what they already have to offer to children and young people. Somebody with years, indeed decades of experience should not be regarded as somebody who comes with a blank CV."
Questions have also been raised about the possible costs of the qualification, who would police it, and whether it would become compulsory.
News of the qualification has also surfaced at a time authors and illustrators are pointing to fewer schools are inviting them to visit, a result largely of school budget cuts.
What is this expected to achieve? Again a sledge hammer to crack a nut We are looking to authors to inspire children to aspire. What happened to common sense? The teachers know all the "academic" and "safety" stuff. I don't normally comment but what a waste of time and money!
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