The following conferences have been sponsored and organised by John Lyon’s Charity.
- Breaking Barriers: Accessing the Arts 2011
National Portrait Gallery
Wednesday, 8 June 2011
Arts organisations devote a large amount of their resources, staff and time to creating and securing funds for programmes that deliver activities to children and young people through schools. Projects enhance the school curriculum, broaden horizons and foster personal development for both teachers and pupils. Most art programmes are delivered free (or at minimal cost) to schools and are designed to be collaborative. Yet barriers to participation remain.
A conference hosted by John Lyon’s Charity called Breaking Barriers: Accessing the Arts examined why schools find it difficult to participate fully in programmes. It provided an opportunity for organisations supported by John Lyon’s Charity to showcase their projects to the wider Arts community to demonstrate the breadth and diversity of activities that the Charity will support. Speakers from Historic Royal Palaces, the British Museum, English National Ballet, Hendon School and others explored ways in which arts organisations could better access young people and how their programmes might better meet their needs. Ways in which arts organisations could share their experiences with colleagues in the art world were also identified in order to maximise the benefits of this learning.
The main highlights from the conference were:
- Undiluted ‘great art’ for children should be promoted
- Inspiration and aspiration: a two-way traffic of ideas and effort between arts organisations and schools, with special emphasis on matching the right project or programme to the right groups of students and their requirements as expressed by enthusiastic teachers.
- Perform Shakespeare don’t read it
- Share resources: collaboration and continuity
- One-off programmes are not as good as sustained interventions
- Working over a long period of time enables schools to embed project ethos into their daily routine
- Contact schools via the school administrator; do this at 3.45pm – school closing and more preoccupied with ‘adult matters’
- Projects go wrong when: needs are not identified early enough; point of contact with schools had not been established;
- Projects go well when teachers are engaged: by holding open weekends and teachers’ forums; involving teachers in project delivery and ensuring that a teachers’ own skills expertise are utilised.
- Schools must select the right students to participate in projects and the project must be built around those taking part
- Both schools and arts organisations should not limit the expectations they place on the participants
- Arts organisations must be transparent about why they are offering the project and what has prompted that choice. How do they ensure that it matches what a school requires?
- Project admin must not be arduous: 38hours per week are spent teaching – no time left for organising projects and outings etc.
- Assessing results: schools are judged on exam results – therefore schools are likely to respond most positively to projects that can illustrate how their work will raise attainment of the participants. Evidence needed to back up these claims.
- Golden rule: the tension between the artistic initiative and the schools’ needs – target enthusiastic teachers within schools and make sure that what is on offer is what teachers want.
- Arts organisations should bring to the project the unique resources that they are able to contribute in terms of utilising professional artists and practitioners that they have access to.
The Charity has produced some guidelines to suggest ways in which Arts organisations and schools can work more effectively together.
To download the guide for Arts organisations, please click here.
To download the guide for schools, please click here.
- Primary Music Matters - Playing Your Part 2009
Finding ways to provide a quality music education in primary schools
This John Lyon's Charity sponsored conference was held at the Wigmore Hall on Wednesday, 10th June 2009. The key questions of the day were:
- What does “primary music” mean today?
- Engaging children and schools in musical opportunities: how do we make it happen? How do we make it consequential?
- Is it any good? How do we ensure the quality of music programmes offered to schools?
The Charity's theatre advisor and theatre critic Michael Coveney, reports on the day:
The conference on primary school music education took place on the day of the tube strike (Wednesday 10 June 2009) but eighty per cent of the delegates arrived in good time at the Wigmore Hall. JLC chair Nick Stuart welcomed the assembly and threaded the proceedings with appropriate and helpful remarks.The tone for a highly successful morning was set by composer and creative director Hannah Conway, who got us all on our feet stomping, clapping, clicking and singing together with Year 3 pupils from St Vincent’s RC Primary, Westminster; we developed a whole vocal performance in three parts. As the conference proceeded, Hannah disappeared with the children and within two hours they returned to give an onstage performance, complete with drums, conches, xylophones and other instruments, accompanied by Hannah on piano.
She then played back to us the classical piece on which her exercise was based: Rachmaninov’s 2nd Symphony and the kids were amazed. So were we: it was a brilliant demonstration of how musical education, appreciation and creativity can mesh.
In his keynote address, Times music critic Richard Morrison – who conducts a choir in his spare time – advocated beating the drum about primary school music more loudly and also the need for sustainability; we were in danger of becoming a passive society – not cooking, not playing sport, not making music. He emphasised the latent talent in all of us and quoted Dame Liz Forgan, new chair of the Arts Council, on being exposed to Tristan at the age of six and being hooked for life: throwing children into a boiling vat of great music did them no harm at all.
Morrison said that he had seen Janet Baker, David Oistrakh and Jaqueline Du Pre on this same Wigmore Hall stage and said it was no different a world from a Year 3 recorder lesson: no man is an island, nor is a classroom. The talent for making music is inside all of us, and is the most exciting thing you can do.
He said there should be more link-up between schools and outside voluntary musical activity, something echoed later by Suzi Digby of the Voices Foundation who said that music was the centre of the culture on the streets and why should that be different in the classroom? She, too, put us through our paces in a really interesting way – and a chorus of “Pease pudding hot” – and explained the basics of working on rhythm, pitch, the inner voice and notation with Year 6.
Ursula Crickmay of the Wigmore Hall Community and Education Department, together with Matthew Glen of the nearby St Marylebone School, explained long term partnerships and planning in school and gave a vivid illustration of a German lieder project with the great international soprano Anne Murray.
Two of the speakers breezed in right on cue from traffic delays and made infectiously enthusiastic contributions: Cherry Forbes, Education Manager of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, who also plays in the band, made it clear that education is not an add-on with them, it’s core. All the musicians take part. She explained how she introduces children to the idea of something like sonata form: first subject and second subject as characters who mingle in a development section, acquire characteristics of each other in the recapitulation section and have a party in the coda: we had a twelve year old cheeky Haydn meeting an 88 year-old chap called Bartholomew in the Swiss Alps where the latter had gone to a spa. She reported a particularly good working relationship with Camden Music Service.
Then came Annie Williams, Head of Holy Trinity and St Silas Primary in Camden, probably the star of the show. She made all her pupils play an instrument – and the teachers, too! The school has an orchestra, a jazz band and two choirs. The jazz band regaled us with three wonderful items, the faces of the small trumpet players a real picture. Annie said the cost was not enormous; getting money for the activities was not a problem. Each spring term is an arts term, with no cramming for Sats. Yet the results are very good. If every primary school had an Annie Williams, this country would be transformed. She was inspirational, no other word for it, and she spoke beautifully, explaining that she was Welsh but couldn’t sing very well herself. That, too was not the point: “You can talk,” she said, “therefore you can sing.” It was nothing to do with doing something well, necessarily, it was doing it at all.
Tom Campbell from the Mayor’s Office, standing in for a tonsilitis-afflicted Munira Mirza at the GLA, itemised five areas of possible strategy, pending a statement next year: a scholarship fund, a large “Expo” style event, initiatives around the Olympics, help with on-line media, and help with Transport for London. Then James Devaney, Music Services Coordinator at Hammersmith and Fulham, quoted the importance of the Music Manifesto and other key documents in emphasising the need for national policy to link with local needs. He sounded very hands-on and convincing.
Martin Neary, the John Lyon's Charity music advisor, then led a panel discussion, re-visiting many of the key points and raising some submitted written questions from the delegates. The conversation was full of hints, pointers and provocations.
Before we adjourned for lunch downstairs, we were entertained by three students from the Centre for Young Musicians playing a rare little gem, a piano trio by Donizetti. Art had the last word, and quite right too. A terrific success all round, very enlightening and encouraging.
- The Primary Stage 2008
Leading theatre companies and playwrights discuss ways to increase the participation of primary school children in theatre.
The conference, chaired by Nick Stuart, was welcomed to the Soho Theatre by its artistic director Lisa Goldman. The morning was a great success and resulted in not only many positive comments from the delegates but some important points that are summarised here. Overall the level of enthusiasm and the quality of response indicated what an important and vibrant area of work is that of theatre in schools and primary age children.
Michael Coveney, theatre critic and the Charity's advisor on theatre, got the ball rolling with the keynote address: Back to School and Forward to Basics. He called for theatre to be at the very heart of the school curriculum, not tacked on. "Teachers should not have to beg for time out, or time off, or special dispensations in order to take part with their pupils in the kind of work we are discussing here today."
Tony Graham of the Unicorn mentioned the vibrancy of young theatre in Germany, with five or six times the amount of funding here. There was, he said, an international movement of theatre for the under-fives. Lyn Gardner of the Guardian said this area, citing such groups as Oily Carte and Theatre Rites, was the new avant garde, and their energy was suffusing more mainstream groups like Punchdrunk and Shunt; this energy was no longer in the theatre buildings themselves.
Tony Graham said that he would like to see the Peter Brook audience and the Les Miserables audience switched over: then you'd have real theatre. He wanted to see older children in the same room as younger children and adults.
Janice Taylor a teacher in Lewisham, who accompanied Jackie Skinner from the National Theatre, said she loved Shakespeare at primary school but that secondary school "killed it". She uses Shakespeare in her classroom for almost everything except Maths. You can do this, she said, if you ignore the literacy strategy.
Fiona Banks of Globe Education said the government's five hours of culture a week policy was a mandate for their work. She wanted schools to make more demands on them; stand alone work has value but is much better if it feeds into the curriculum. Funding was essential in the linking process between teachers and practitioners. Organisation in school was needed, she said: reschedule, reschedule, reschedule.
Fiona Bailey, a teacher in Soho Parish Primary School, accompanied Suzanne Gorman of Soho Theatre, and commented that progress in the children participating in the Soho's writing workshops was apparent after two sessions. The new national framework was "opening it all up" in terms of literacy in schools.
Jacqui O'Hanlon of RSC Learning said that Shakespeare plays were great in themselves, but what the RSC did was more about learning through the plays. Expanding on the new RSC primary schools policy - "Do it, See it, Start it Earlier" - she said that primary school children were fearless; nobody had got to them yet. In the recent Henry IV project, linked to the Company's history cycle at the Roundhouse, she said the primary schools blew the secondary ones away with their work on the Prince Hal / Falstaff relationship; the rejection scene was Hal leaving primary school to take on a new responsibility at the higher level...
A panel discussion was chaired by playwright James Campbell and included Lyn Gardner, David Wood and Vicky Ireland. Lyn Gardner said that children's theatre was a sector where you can earn a living without necessarily creating new work; the good work, though, needed much more advocacy, too much of it is invisible.
Playwright David Wood said that teachers and parents tend to be conservative in their choices and commissions; Vicky Ireland formerly of the Polka, said that children's playwrights were totally underused by big theatres, who should commission them instead of endlessly adapting classic children's literature. Wood confirmed that the visit to theatres was crucial; he'd hate to think of drama used merely as an educational tool.
From the floor, a teacher in Peckham bemoaned only having had one hour a week in teacher training on theatre. She also said even £5 or £6 was too expensive for a theatre ticket for her kids. A head teacher in Cricklewood said the government was to blame for beating them with a stick over targets then expecting them to make room for five hours a week of culture.
This was a big conflict. One school had said to David Wood: "We don't have time for fun any more." Vicky Ireland said that if Mayor Boris Johnson announced free coach travel for schools to the theatre, the situation would be transformed. Several delegates emphasised the importance of the professionals and funding bodies targeting head teachers over theatre work.
A teacher in Gospel Oak, north London, pleaded for more handing on of skills in schools. He noted that in London there were many city-wide music events but that drama seemed to be company, or borough led... he seemed to be calling for wider integrated strategy across the city.
Vicky Ireland drew the conference's attention to the launch of the Children's Arts Manifesto at the Unicorn on 21st July. There is provision in European law for the rights of children in the arts.
Nick Stuart summed up by saying that he noted the passion and engagement of the conference and how powerful drama could be in bringing parents into an involvement in their children's education. On behalf of the Charity, addressing the delegates, he said we should continue to support and encourage what you do.
The stage was then cleared and Snowfields Primary School in Southwark performed their contribution to the Hamlet educational project at the Globe earlier this year, the first scene of Hamlet. Professional actors then read two short plays from the Soho Connect's Under 11 Playwriting scheme: Teenage Trouble by Imma Begum, a vivid slice of peer group friendship and trouble at home where the daughter felt like a "suitcase kid"; and Dreams in the Sky in which a bird-obsessed girl was bullied at school and pushed off the church tower - and flew! She was free. Finally two actors read the "Humpty Dumpty" scene from James Campbell's Cutlery Wars, a good example of the high quality drama being written and performed in the sector today.
Report by Michael Coveney, Theatre Advisor to John Lyon's Charity
- So Creativity... For Whom and for What? 2004
The Charity has supported a wide variety of Arts projects amounting to in excess of £7million. The main thing to emerge from all these initiatives is that when professional actors, musicians and artists who are passionate about what they do either visit schools or meet groups of pupils and teachers, it is nearly always a success. Schools and teachers are inspired and helped to think more creatively and imaginatively and artists get a kick out of communicating with the young.
There is a strong case for putting the Arts at the centre of education in schools. But what about the impact on the children themselves? We know less about that - hence the title of this conference - So Creativity? For whom and for what? It is perhaps the most important question. The aim of this conference, held at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, was to explore the real impact of funding the arts in schools with a view to shaping future policy.
Arts Minister, Estelle Morris welcomed moves to unlock the creative potential in schools. Speaking at the conference Ms Morris told delegates, more than 80 creative movers and shakers, including headteachers, arts organisations, funders and the council, that she hoped others would follow their lead in making creativity in education a high priority. She said there was plenty of high quality arts work going on in schools but this wasn't always fully recognised or exploited.
The main subject under discussion at So Creativity... For whom and for what? was how schools and the LB Hammersmith & Fulham's arts team can work more effectively with arts organisations, venues and funders to create as many exciting opportunities as possible for schools. The conference comes as the borough is poised to form a Creative Partnership with Brent and Ealing - giving a major boost to the arts in schools across the three boroughs.
Organisations represented at So Creativity... For whom and for what? included theatre company Dramarama, which has worked with virtually every school in the borough and is currently planning a schools' celebration of Shakespeare, called Shakespeare Live, at the Lyric Hammersmith in September. Also represented was artists' collective ACAVA (Association for Cultural Advancement through Visual Art), whose members will be going into schools as part of the sculptors in residence programme.
Cllr David Williams, deputy for education, said: "This groundbreaking conference brought together some of the key players in our borough's vibrant arts scene, headteachers and leading education professionals from the council. Children and young people benefit enormously from what professional artists have to offer and are inspired by being given the chance to perform at high profile venues. This event gave everyone a chance to consider where we are now and how we can best develop the huge talent in our schools."
- Sport as a Charitable Objective, 2003
At the first ever conference on sport as a charitable objective Kate Hoey MP, the former Minister for Sport, warned that sport needed to hone its lobbying skills as it is losing out to the Arts. She added 'We must remind people of the social benefits of sport and the true volunteers who are involved'.
Sport as a Charitable Objective was held on 1st December 2003 at Westminster Boating Base. The conference, chaired by David Elleray, also heard Richard Baldwin, a tax consultant with Deloitte & Touche, give important advice on the merits of sports clubs registering as charities or applying for tax relief. There were presentations on sports projects where exciting ideas had become reality. Sports East, a partnership between Harrow School and Harrow High School, showed how the independent and state sectors can work together and both benefit. There were also presentations from Grant Aitken of the West London Sports Trust and Ric Taylor from London Towers Basketball Club schools programme.
Professor Ken Goulding of Middlesex University's reminder that sport has a key role to play in education and health as well as crime reduction and prevention underpinned the presentations.
The Conference Chairman, David Elleray, commented 'Anyone hearing today's presentations and discussion would have been left in no doubt that the role sports play in the physical and emotional life of the country marks it out as suitable for charitable status at the local level. We will go away from this conference with new ideas and embryonic initiatives. But we must never forget that sport is about having fun and it is about individuals: participants and, just as important, coaches, mentors and volunteers.'
- Learning to Live - The Importance of London's Youth Services, 2003
'The youth service is vital to London'. This was the message of 'Learning to Live'. The conference was convened in response to a succession of disappointing Ofsteds of Youth Services in the Capital. Speakers included Karen Buck, MP, Ian Comfort, Director of Education in Kensington & Chelsea, and Helal Uddin Abbas, Leader of Tower Hamlets Council. Nick Stuart, Chairman of John Lyon's Charity and formerly Director-General Lifelong Learning at the DfES chaired the conference.
Key issues that emerged included:
- In Tower Hamlets the improvement in education is linked to the improvement in youth services. Funding should be targeted at where youth services and schools work in partnership.
- The youth service has a vital role in working with Connexions - by reaching hard to reach groups.
- There should be a Pan-London Youth Service.
- The essence of youth work must remain fun and association. 'Learning to Live - The Importance of London's Youth Services' is the report of the conference.
Click here to download the report.
- Good Intentions are Not Enough! Making Better Grant Applications, 2002
Despite what they tell you, successful fundraising is very little to do with your good intentions or how you fill in that application form. A successful grant request is the result of the considerable thought and care that has gone into the design of your project. After years of experience as a grant maker, Julia Kaufmann, former Director of BBC Children in Need and the Charity's Advisor on the voluntary sector, explains what grant makers are looking for and what they understood by 'value for money'.
At a seminar on better grant seeking sponsored by John Lyon's Charity, one of London's largest grant-making charities, representatives from local voluntary organisations were warned that sustainability and impact are two of the biggest issues to challenge the voluntary sector.
The seminar was led by Julia Kaufmann, who ran the BBC Children in Need Appeal for 13 years and as the Charity's principal advisor, provides management support to beneficiary organisations. She explained that in the last 10 years local voluntary social welfare organisations have benefited greatly from cash grants from the lottery, grant making trusts and government initiatives. This is especially, and quite rightly, true of the black and ethnic minority voluntary sector, which used to miss out. However, increased resources have given rise to two big issues: the first troubling the voluntary sector, the second largely troubling the grant-maker. These two issues are sustainability and impact.
Sustainability becomes a problem from the moment the rejoicing is over after an organisation receives its first significant grant: the big challenge being how to sustain that income after the grant runs out, and it is often easier to obtain a first grant than a second one to replace it. Often organisations think about this too late and find themselves in a last minute panic to find an ongoing salary for their key worker. She urged voluntary organisations to plan ahead and to start at the beginning of a grant, not as it is running out.
While voluntary organisations worry about sustainability, grant-makers worry about impact and want to know whether the millions they disburse have made a difference to problems and needs on the ground. This concern has made them much more outcome focussed: much more interested in what difference the grant will make to the people it is supposed to benefit, than in the activities that organisations are involved in running. The voluntary sector is still focussed on activities i.e. what it does, rather than outcomes which are the results of what it does.
Because making a difference is important to them, enlightened grant-makers have been active in attempting to strengthen the capacity of the voluntary sector by providing management support.
- How Schools are Funded, 2002
The Standard Spending Assessment, the Standards Fund, Delegated Budgets, City Academies, Education Action Zones, Specialist Schools and so on. This seminar clarified explored the following issues: where does the money come from and to whom does it go? What are the implications for Head teachers, staff and governors, voluntary groups and charitable funders?
- How Local Government Works, 2002
This seminar aimed to increase the understanding by the voluntary sector of local government and in particular of its financing, budgeting arrangements and rules. Voluntary groups need to better market themselves and understand how to maximise press and public relations opportunities. The contribution that voluntary organisations make to the strategic objectives of a local authority is often minimised through ignorance. A greater shared understanding of the successes of the voluntary sector can only improve the relationship and influence future funding decisions. This seminar was led by Martyn Kempson, a former Director of Education in the London Borough of Barnet and the Charity's principal advisor on local authorities and schools in the maintained sector.
- Continuing Learning: From Prison to Work, 2002
This seminar arose out of the Charity's concern to focus on groups of young people whose educational needs may have been overlooked by both the statutory services and the voluntary sector.
There were growing concerns that many young people were benefiting from education while in prison but not continuing their learning once back in the community. Alan Carter and colleagues from Hammersmith & Fulham Community Learning and Leisure Services presented a review of learning programmes targeting young people leaving prison, including those programmes set up in partnership with the Prison Service and those designed to start while in custody and continue on release. Participants included Brian Wheelwright from the Wates Foundation, Frances Crook, Director of the Howard League for Penal Reform, and representatives from the Probation and Prison Services.