Will your artistic skills, knowledge and experience make a difference to the students, support the curriculum and be valued by the teachers and the school community?
The Artist’s Resource Kit ‘The ark’ will keep you 'afloat' and help you on your way. Developed in consultation with artists, educators, schools, arts organisations and companies, ‘The ark’ documents the elements and procedures that contribute to models of best practice in the delivery of lively, relevant and engaging arts learning experiences.
For more information about working as an artist in a school
Contact Leigh Mangin at Carclew on 08 8230 1118 (direct line) or 08 8267 5111 (Carclew general number).
Initial Contact, Planning and Induction
The Project Brief
Initial contact, planning and induction
Now that you have made contact with the school (or they have contacted you), a face-to-face meeting will need to be arranged.
During early discussions you will need to talk about the timeframe (exact dates and times, if possible), your fee, materials, equipment, venue, student numbers and year levels, process and learning outcomes and professional development for teachers.
Now that initial discussions are completed, and you and the school are in agreement the coordinating teacher (with your assistance) will need to timetable and budget the project or activity. A contract may not be necessary but you must have an agreement in writing – this could be an email or a letter.
On the first day of the project / residency you will need to get to know the school. A staff member at the school will take you through a brief induction which should include both basic and more specific information. You will need to know everything from where the toilets are to the school's behaviour management policy. If you feel you need to know more – ask.
The Survival Skills and Checklist, to follow will help you through the initial process and they include information that will assist everyone to enjoy a safe, stress-free and successful arts experience.
Child Related Employment Screening
Before you go any further one of the most important 'tools' for you to have, and an essential requirement when working in schools or with groups of children (under 18 years) is to have a current Child Related Employment Screening clearance. It is now a requirement of DECD and Carclew that anyone working in schools must apply for any 'child-related employment' screening clearance through the Department for Communities and Social Inclusion (DCSI).
NB: if you are working in a Catholic school they also now accept a DCSI Clearance. Please ring the Police Check Unit on 8210 9383 for more information.
Responding to Abuse and Neglect (RAN) or Child Safe Environments Training
It is a requirement for all artists working in South Australian DECD schools to complete a 7-hour DECD-approved RAN course ((formerly known as “Mandatory Notification”). You can book into a course via the CEASA website. There are also a number of other service providers that can be found by doing a search online.
Carclew's Child Safe Environments Policy can be viewed here.
Organisation and Management of the School/Worksite
School staff will be able to provide information about special events on the school calendar i.e. sports days, swimming carnivals, student-free days, camps and NAPLAN testing. Key dates are often overlooked in the planning stages of arts activities and can have an impact further down the track. It is vital to know this before you confirm dates.
Is there a weekly staff bulletin or noticeboard in the staff room? How does the school newsletter work? This is often the best way to disseminate information about your arts program to the broader school community. How does information flow between the staff and School Council? How does the Student Representative Council (SRC) give and receive information?
Information about the student enrolment and the broader school community are important considerations when planning and delivering an arts program, residency or activity.
This may include:
- a school context statement (detailing information about the socio-economic circumstances which prevail in the area)
- information about students with special and/or access needs
- students, identified as being 'at risk'
- ATSI students
- students from non-English speaking backgrounds
- religious backgrounds
- family composition (e.g. single parent families)
- any particular programs which are provided to assist these students
How are parents, caregivers and other family members involved in various aspects of the school community? If appropriate, discuss with the school how extended family members can be involved. This is particularly relevant when an artist is working in a regional community.
Work, Health and Safety
It is essential for you to be shown emergency evacuation and invacuation procedures on your first day in a school. It is also important you are aware of basic procedures around responding to an incident or emergency.
N.B. A teacher or other member of the school staff will always be present (refer to DECD Duty of Care policy) and will take the appropriate action, but you still need to be aware of procedures.
Social Justice and Equal Opportunity
You will require information about the school's sexual and racial harassment grievance procedures. Most schools have an anti-bullying policy - it would be helpful for you to be aware of this.
If you are employed by Carclew you will be required to adhere to Carclew policies and procedures as part of your contract (see under Carclew Policies).
The Project/Activity Brief
What is the task?
You need to make sure that the tasks are clearly stated, understood and agreed upon by everyone involved, and most importantly, manageable and achievable. These things must be discussed at the face-to-face meeting before commencement.
If you are working in a regional school, a planning meeting may not be possible but regular email and phone communication is just as important and will ensure you are 'on the same page'.
General strategies to achieve the task might include:
- Skills ... this is what you bring to the project.
- Participation ... this is what the students and teachers contribute to the project.
- Partnership ... this is what the teacher/s, students and artists bring to the project ... or maybe even parents and members of the wider community.
Focal points or key outcomes might include:
- Curriculum ... learning a new skill.
- Social ... improving the ability of students to work in teams or with partners, taking risks, dealing with social issues.
- Communication ... interpreting thoughts and feelings in a new or different way.
- Incorporation of creative expertise to shape a project.
The points below will provide you with some insight into working in a school environment. Even if you have worked as an artist in a school before you may find this information helpful.
- Criminal History Clearance - essential to get this in process long before you are due to start as there can be long delays in processing through DCSI.
- Responding to Abuse and Neglect (RAN) - you must show evidence of attending a 7-hour (or update online) course with an expiry date within the currency of the activity.
- Daily procedures - first thing each day you will need to sign the Visitors' Book (the school may have a name badge for you to wear). You'll need to do this each day when you arrive and when you leave. This is an important HS&W procedure in case of an emergency.
- Getting to know the school - make yourself known to the front office staff. They should be able to help you with most of your questions as they are often the people who know the school best. Most staff wear name badges which will help you get to know who everyone is and what their role is.
- The Coordinator may like to introduce you to each class group at the beginning of your time in the school. You'll be surprised how many children will remember your name.
If you don’t need all of the recess and lunch breaks to get prepared for your next session, you might prefer to take a break outside. This is a great opportunity for students to talk with you and for you to get to know them.
- Parking - find out if there's a visitor car parking space (if not, enquire where you can park) or special point for entering the grounds to unload equipment. Be aware of students when driving on school property – especially when reversing.
- Timetable – adhere to the arranged schedule / timetable as schools operate on blocks of time for each lesson. This is particularly important in secondary schools but may be more flexible in primary schools, by negotiation.
- Workshop preparation - allow plenty of time to set up for a workshop or a performance and check that there will be someone at the school to provide access at the desired time. Discuss in advance - don't assume!
- Navigation – ask for a school map. This will be helpful and assist you with locating classrooms and/or spaces you may be working. Schools can be very complex to find your way around - make sure you orientate yourself before you start as prescious time can be lost if you get lost!
- Staff facilities – you will be shown where the staff facilities are (staffroom and toilets). If not – ask. It might be wise to bring your own mug/cup for hot drinks during breaks and if you are going to be there for the day bring your lunch.
Please feel free to use this Checklist as a starting point for planning a successful arts experience with schools.
- Planning - Arrange a meeting with the teacher who contacted you regarding working as an artist in their school. Take a copy of your CV and your portfolio as well as your RAN and Police Clearance documentation if you have them.
- Professional Learning - If you plan to be working in the school for a week, two weeks or more talk to the teacher about the possibility about itegrating a professional learning session (at a staff meeting or on a student-free day) for staff. This is an ideal way for all staff to get to meet you, know what you will be doing with the students and may also equip them with new skills they can integrate into their teaching practice. If there is not an opportunity for this the teacher/s who work most closely with you will learn through hands-on involvement (encourage them to partcipate). Don't forget to also ask the teachers questions - they will be happy to share information.
- Appropriate skills - Discuss the skills you have to offer and consider if you’re the right artist for the job.
- Curriculum - Find out what the curriculum priorities are for the school and how your skills can support learning. Be aware the Australian Curriculum: The Arts is now on the Australian Curriculum website and is gradually being implemented in SA schools.
- Students - Find out how many students you’ll be working with and what ages they are likely to be. It is vital you are clear about how many students you can reasonably expect to work with at any one time and over the duration of the project. This will vary depending on the activity and desired outcome.
- Space - Find out what space will be available to you and whether it has what it will be appropriate for the activity. i.e. Do you need a wet area? Can you work outdoors? Do you need a larger space (hall)?
- Plan - Create a project/activity plan – think about what, who, when, where, why and how? Allow room and time for the students to have input.
- Artist fees - Talk about the budget and how it will be spent, and ask questions about what, how and when you’ll be paid. Remember to factor preparation and travel time into your fee. If you are working at a regional school you will also need to discuss reimbursement for expenses such as petrol (you may build this into the total fee) and where will you be accommodated (the school should pay for this).
- Materials and equipment - Make a list of the materials and equipment you need for the project. If the school has agreed to cover the cost it will usually work best if you source them – discuss how you prefer to be reimbursed or if it would suit you better for the school to provide Petty Cash in advance (you will need to keep receipts).
- Collaboration - Talk about how you and the teacher/s can support each other, including how you like to work with students and what can be done before, during and after the project. Discuss aims and objectives, roles (of teachers and artist), agree on desired outcomes, and build in an ongoing evaluation process.
- Duty of Care (refer to Carclew's Child Safe Environments Policy) - Discuss the appropriate procedure for leaving the classroom during a session – this may be required for a number of reasons.
- Outcomes - Project outcomes may be a short performance, show ‘n’ tell or an exhibition and can be an ideal opportunity for parents and family members to see the children’s work. It doesn’t need to be large in scale but it is important that the children’s (and your) efforts be acknowledged and celebrated.
- Plan for success - After you have considered and addressed all of the above, it will be time to enjoy working with the students and teachers. The skills and knowledge you bring to the project will be valued by the entire school community. Most artists find working in schools extremely rewarding so enjoy!