Teachers at Manchester Art Gallery

Manchester Art Gallery

Marge Ainsley and Joanne Davies, 16.04.2012
As part of the Heritage Lottery funded pre-Raphaelite experiment, Manchester Art Gallery trialled a new way of working with schools – by creating a teacher network with a difference.

The project aimed to stimulate new approaches to curriculum delivery by giving teachers and teaching assistants space and time to reconnect with and develop their own creative practice.

Across a series of artist training sessions, 13 participants from primary and secondary schools produced their own creative responses inspired by the Ford Madox Brown: Pre-Raphaelite Pioneer exhibition.

They collectively explored thoughts, feelings and images, relating to family, memories and everyday events. The finished pieces were displayed in the exhibition to provide a contemporary perspective on Brown’s work, provoke discussion and encourage reflection.

Pupils subsequently created their own responses to the pre-Raphaelite collection through workshops at the gallery, and back in the classroom with an artist.  

Seeing the personal, emotionally-charged responses on display “humanised” teachers and strengthened bonds with pupils, particularly with boys.

Teachers gained real ownership of the gallery and realised that it is a creative extension to their classroom; a valuable resource and learning tool.

They gained interpretative skills, building the confidence and ability to lead self-guided visits at any gallery or in front of any artwork.

The mix of participants (in terms of experience and key stages) meant that ideas taken back to the classroom were influenced by multiple teacher voices – thus enriching and providing sustainable approaches to the curriculum.

Learning points from the project will now inform future interpretation and programming of the core schools and colleges programme.

Marge Ainsley is Manchester Art Gallery's pre-Raphaelite experiment evaluator and Joanne Davies is the schools and colleges manager at Manchester Art Gallery