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"Creative learning at its best" 
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For many of us, there’s a sense of foreboding and dread about the challenges the new academic year might throw at us; for teachers, it might be the dreaded phone call from OFSTED, a challenging cohort of children, a new manager, a new job, or a new responsibility; for students, it might be the pressure of exams, or a reminder that their strengths aren’t tested by the exams they’ll sit and therein is another blog in itself… 
For lots of us, though, there’s a hunger for the new school year to begin; a chance to see what challenges our brains will be taxed with, the possibility of the renewed chance to succeed and achieve in the subjects at which we enjoy and excel, or the chance to draw out the aspiration and potential we can spot in a pupil, make a breakthrough with a challenging child or the accomplishment of seeing that ‘light bulb-moment’ in a child when they realise they can do it. 
 
When I became the Art Tutor at Ingestre Arts, I was so worried that I would miss the comfort of the whole school environment and knowing all the children in the school, miss telling them about their ties, or their shirts not being tucked in, or that really, they should be wearing their cap/boater all the way to the car whether it hurt their chin/they hated it or not, following a school ethos and feeling the community which used to be like a family and feeling so at home with families from which I’d taught all of the children, over the years. It was a massive departure from the security of a small school to a sprawling Jacobean mansion, where I was worried that I wouldn’t feel that sense of belonging or any continuity between year groups and lack that feeling that I could contribute to the whole school just by putting up a great display or taking an assembly. 
 
Nearly three years on, I realise I shouldn’t have worried at all; the things that I thought I would miss pale into insignificance when I compare the rewarding moments I get from working here at Ingestre. I haven’t, still, been able to pin point exactly when or how it happens, but each week, without fail, this place and the people inside it, work an unfathomable magic: It’s a sorcery which happens stealthily, sometimes without any warning and then during a sharing at the end of the week, can creep up on you and take you by surprise with a tingle, a few goose-bumps (and full-on tears, in my case, once) where you see the effect of something you’ve taught, a tip you’ve passed on for cutting out, a fact you’ve told them about an artist and how they painted or a new way of approaching their subject matter and as a result. I find myself so excited for a new week, a new term or a new school who decide to visit us, excited to see which bit of my passion for The Arts I can pass on and maybe inspire someone else to do the thing they love for the rest of their life. 
 
So for me, the new term holds endless possibility; new themes to explore, new techniques to try, wondering what I can transform into something that fits their theme (last year it was my sister’s kitchen chairs and a car bonnet); I’m lucky enough, now, not to have that dreadful, Sunday-night feeling, sitting with my planning, worrying about targets and levels, exam results and league tables, parents evening and staff meetings, with my stomach sinking lower and lower. I do, sometimes see the same children from a school, (those who have been lucky enough to visit in consecutive years) and watching their development from afar from one year to the next is just as rewarding as watching them progress from within the school. I no longer remind children about their ties, tucking in their shirts or wearing a boater; now I spend my weeks telling them that they’re nervous because they’re about to do something really amazing, that they can do this, that I do this for my job, which is a kind of a dream come true…painting, creating, drawing, making, imagining and doing what I love to pay my bills. Even though I failed my Art A Level. They never cease to gasp when I tell them that, during our ‘Interview an Artist’ session on a Wednesday afternoon. 
 
So, let’s grab this term, this academic year, by the shirt collar and give it a shake, because it WILL be amazing, if YOU make it amazing. Its out there for the taking… 
Tagged as: New term
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