Schools and colleges across the country are today (Friday 28 May) showcasing the breadth of creative talent among children and young people in a national festival celebrating the vital role the arts plays in education.
Nine education organisations have joined forces to stage the Festival of School and College Arts, a day of creative celebration which aims to provide a burst of artistic energy to counter the negativity and disruption to education caused by the Covid pandemic over the past year.
Schools and colleges are today posting a dazzling array of creative work from their students and pupils on their Twitter accounts, using the hashtag #EduArtsFest – everything from paintings and drawings to dance and poems, music and drama performances.
The Festival has been embraced by hundreds of schools and colleges as a moment of relief from day-to-day pressures and an opportunity to showcase the amazing work they have been doing despite the considerable challenges faced during the pandemic’s lockdowns and online learning.
The artwork and performances being shared on Twitter have not been created specifically for the Festival but are representative of the creativity and talent of children and young people in education every day, with the majority having been produced during the pandemic.
The Festival runs for just one day but many schools and colleges were quick to show their support after it was announced last month, posting students’ work well in advance and helping to spread the word far and wide.
The Festival of School and College Arts is a joint initiative by the Association of Colleges (AoC), Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), Confederation of School Trusts (CST), Independent Schools Council (ISC), National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), the NASUWT teachers’ union, National Education Union (NEU), National Governance Association (NGA), and the Sixth Form Colleges Association (SFCA).
The festival is also being supported by the Cultural Learning Alliance, which champions a right to arts and culture for every child, and the Arts Council.
Association of Colleges Chief Executive David Hughes said: “It’s great to see students showcasing their diversity, energy and creativity. This year has been filled with negative stories and problems caused by the pandemic but young people have come through it and days like this are exactly what we need to refocus on the excellent and talented students in our colleges and schools and celebrate their artistic achievements.”
ASCL General Secretary Geoff Barton said: “A public celebration of the artistic positivity of children struck us a splendid way for schools and colleges to banish the doom and gloom of the pandemic and they have responded magnificently, surprising even us with a cornucopia of creativity.”
CST Chief Executive Officer Leora Cruddas said: “The arts enrich children’s lives and we in turn are enriched by sharing in the fruits of their vitality, imagination and creativity. It is a privilege today to be able to mark and celebrate children enjoying the arts – long may this continue.”
ISC Chief Executive Julie Robinson said: “It is wonderful to be able to celebrate the creativity of young people. This festival is a valuable reminder of what children can achieve when they are supported and encouraged to let their artistic talents flourish.”
NAHT General Secretary Paul Whiteman said: “Today’s celebration shows that young people do not consider themselves to be a generation lost to Covid - their creativity is as strong as ever. This demonstrates the importance of the arts and the central role of a rounded curriculum in enriching children’s lives and supporting their personal development and mental wellbeing.”
NASUWT General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach said: “The enthusiasm we have seen for the Festival underlines the benefits for pupils’ academic, social and emotional wellbeing and the importance of protecting the arts and creative subjects in the curriculum.”
NEU Joint General Secretaries Dr Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney said: “It is great to be able to showcase all the wonderful creativity going on in our schools and colleges. Thank you to all the schools and students who have taken part and made our made our day brighter by doing so.”
NGA Chief Executive Emma Knights said: “It is wonderful to see the imagination and enjoyment of children and young people shining through in the work being shared by schools and trusts taking part in the Festival.”