The four trainee artist educators who joined us in September have now finished all of their scheduled commitments on the programme and are beginning to work on projects as lead artists.
Over the last year we have been working with Betting Fung, Ella Hempsted, Katherine Leedale and Pia Bramley. They have all worked with a range of artist educators across a variety of settings, participated in Artist CPD sessions, supported Celebration Events and attended a series of meetings with the Bow Arts Education team.
We asked them about their experience of the programme, read what they had to say below.
Do you feel your main learning/development goals in taking part in the trainee programme have been meet?
Bettina: Yes. I started the programme with limited experience working with young people and haven’t worked in a school before. I now feel much more confident working in a school setting and working with different age groups. I have gained tools to help me handle different situations. The programme reassured my interest in exploring art within education and I am now even more eager to pursue this.
Ella: Yes, the programme gave me the opportunity to gain experience and an understanding of projects at Bow Arts and use this to begin to realise where I would like to sit within arts education. This range of experiences allowed me to develop practical skills, theoretical knowledge and much greater confidence in my own ability.
Katherine: Absolutely, I have been exposed to a much wider variety of ages and school settings than previously and already feel more confident in delivering engaging and age appropriate activities.
Pia: I applied for the programme because I had been working on art education projects for a few years but was finding it difficult to move towards working with schools. I had no idea about how to approach a school, or the types of projects a school might wish to run. It would have been almost impossible for me to gain these experiences had it not been a paid opportunity. Since finishing the programme I am now working with two very different schools, and about to begin a third project. This work has been some of the most exciting and inspiring in my career, so I’m hugely grateful to Bow Arts for helping me reach this point.
Do you feel you were given support in the areas you needed most?
Ella: Definitely, the Education team were a wonderful support system who we knew would be there to answer any questions or offer guidance when needed. The artists selected to work with us were equally valuable in offering their time and sharing their knowledge to support us throughout the programme.
Pia: Being trusted to deliver sessions in my own way was, at times, a little scary but it built my confidence in myself and throughout the year I realized that my pre-session nerves changed into excitement. Being one of four trainees was great, not only have I gained three new friends but also the regular meetings allowed us to compare our experiences and gain a breadth of knowledge about a wide range of schools and types of projects. The Education team placed each of us thoughtfully and each term chose placements that allowed us to learn about the various approaches of each artist and school.
What worked well on the programme?
Bettina: I appreciated the flexibility in the programme, which didn’t disrupt my part time job and other freelance work. I think the structure worked well, where Term 1 was to have a series of observations of different projects and finally to deliver an activity and Term 2 involves supporting a project over three sessions. I enjoyed sharing with my fellow trainees and meeting other artist educators and hear about their experiences. I think the CPD workshops complimented the training very well.
Ella: I think the structure of the programme worked really well in gradually building our knowledge and confidence. From starting the programme, assisting in one off sessions to finishing with leading an aspects - I felt that I was constantly growing and learning but never pushed in ways where I wasn't supported. The evaluation meetings were also a great way to come together as a group and reflect on our experiences - whether similar or different - and have the opportunity to track our development.
Katherine: Overall I found the programme very nurturing and the staff at Bow Arts open and attentive.
What resources were useful?
Ella: The CPD's were really useful in widening my knowledge and understanding of arts education and giving time for more in depth conversations with other artists that there's not always time for during workshop sessions.
Pia: The CPD sessions I’ve been able to attend were really useful, and the success of this programme is certainly underpinned by regular face-to-face meetings with the Education team.
How did you feel about the relationship with the Lead Artist Educators?
Bettina: I found supporting multiple classes for a whole day was very beneficial to familiarize working in a school as well as gaining the experience of doing the same activity in different classes. I delivered a full session in the Spring term and it was a very good learning experience particularly in time keeping. When I was only delivering an activity in the past, it was very easy to just say my part and pass it back to the lead artist. This way I felt more responsible and felt that I could learn more.
Katherine: They were all very giving with advice and several took the opportunity to spontaneously praise / suggest improvements to me directly which was very useful while the session was still fresh in my mind.
Pia: I was really fortunate to work with some artists who were able to be very generous with their time - so impressive when everyone has such a busy timetable. I was often sent a wealth of useful information before sessions, met with artists in advance or stayed late at sessions to share their thoughts and feedback.
Any other comments?
Ella: It has been a wonderful experience and I have already encouraged lots of other educators to keep an eye out for applications - I couldn't recommend it enough. You made us feel valued as artists and educators and really welcomed into the Bow Arts community. Massive thank you to all of the Education team and artists!
Pia: Many people I tell about the programme are excited to hear about it. A paid opportunity to develop knowledge and experience is truly rare!