Arts Council of Wales | Frequently Asked Questions for Arts Organisations and Practitioners

Frequently Asked Questions for Arts Organisations and Practitioners

Context and scene setting

1. What is Creative Learning through the Arts?

Creative Learning through the Arts is a £20million, five-year action plan, setting out how learners in Wales engage with the arts. It was launched by Welsh Ministers on 3 March 2015. The Welsh Government and Arts Council of Wales have led the development of the Plan and Arts Council of Wales will be responsible for the implementation of the plan.

Creative Learning through the Arts has three main aims:

  • to improve attainment through creativity;
  • to increase and improve arts opportunities in our schools; and
  • to support our teachers and arts practitioners to develop their skills in order to deliver improved outcomes for learners.

The plan supports the Welsh Government’s three key education priorities - improving literacy, numeracy and reducing the impact of poverty on attainment.

An important element of the action plan will be to encourage schools across Wales, many in disadvantaged areas, to become part of a new Lead Creative Schools Scheme. This will bring creative practitioners – artists, musicians, actors, film makers, designers – into schools to work together with pupils and teachers.

In addition, an All-Wales Arts and Education Programme will be set up which will enable schools to draw on the knowledge and practice of artists and arts and cultural organisations to improve and complement teaching across the curriculum.

Four regional networks will also be established to share best practice, encourage partnership working, and provide training opportunities for arts and cultural organisations to tailor their offer to meet the needs of schools and the curriculum.

A new arts and creative learning portal will be developed later this year to communicate the various opportunities available.

2. Is this project open to English and Welsh medium schools?

Yes – all aspects of Creative Learning through the Arts are fully bilingual.

3. What are the overall aims for the Creative Learning through the Arts Plan?

The plan is designed to bring about a step change in the range and quality of arts and cultural opportunities for children and young people. It aims to build on the good work that is already happening whilst providing a wide range of new ways for arts and cultural organisations and artists and creative practitioners to engage with young people and schools.

Activities to implement the recommendations will be divided into 2 main strands:

  • A ‘Lead Creative Schools’ Programme
  • An ‘All-Wales Arts and Education Programme’
4. Who is behind the Plan, and why has it been produced?

The Plan has been jointly produced, in partnership, by the Welsh Government and Arts Council of Wales. It responds to a report written by Professor Dai Smith in 2013 on arts education in schools, which involved extensive consultation with Arts and Education bodies and professionals.

Professor Smith argued two main points: firstly, that for children and young people to succeed, greater creativity needed to be introduced into teaching and learning; and secondly, the school environment itself had to be more creative, providing more opportunities for young people to enjoy and take part in the arts.

The Welsh Government accepted Professor Smith’s report, and worked with Arts Council of Wales to develop a Plan that responds to the report’s 12 recommendations.

5. How much money is being spent on implementing the Plan?

£20million over five years - £10million from the Welsh Government (£2million per year), matched by £10million from Arts Council of Wales

6. £20million is a lot of money – where’s it all going?

This is a major project, over an extended period of time that is intended to transform teaching in Welsh schools. The majority of the money will be spent on practical schools‑based activity that benefits teachers and pupils. There will also be funding available for artists and creative practitioners to work in schools, for teacher and artist training, and for an increase in opportunities for young people to enjoy and take part in high quality arts activity.

7. Is this extra money going to be able to replace existing and planned cuts in central and local government funding?

No, this money is entirely separate. It has been made available specifically to invest in the implementation of the Arts and Creative Learning Plan.

8. What involvement will artists and arts organisations have in the Plan?

The involvement of artists and arts organisations is fundamental to the Plan. Given the emphasis on creativity, it’s to be expected that artists and arts organisations will have a very prominent role to play in implementing the Plan’s recommendations.

9. I’m already doing a huge amount of arts activity in schools, will these new funds be able to help pay for this?

We’re very aware that an enormous amount of first‑rate arts activity is already happening in schools across Wales. Artists, arts organisations and local authorities are amongst the many organisations already doing excellent work in schools. This is good to see, and we’re determined that nothing should happen to detrimentally affect this activity.

However, the Creative Learning through the Arts Plan has a very different focus and is clearly focused on delivery creative approaches to specific areas of curriculum. Some of these approaches may be unfamiliar in Wales because they’re based on techniques learned as part of extensive research from around the world. This is, therefore, a new project, supported by training and professional development. The new funding is specifically ring‑fenced for these purposes. We hope that existing providers of arts and education activity will want to work with us to implement the Plan.

10. Will the recommendations of the Donaldson report have any impact on any of the funding/training outlined in the Creative Learning Plan?

Following the publication of Professor Donaldson’s Successful Futures: Independent Review of Curriculum and Assessment Arrangements in Wales, the Welsh Government will be considering the recommendations of this far-reaching report. The report reaffirms the importance of creativity in the curriculum and proposes the Expressive Arts as one of six ‘Areas of Learning and Experience’. At this stage we do not anticipate any fundamental changes to the activity outlined in the Plan.

11. Why is the Arts Council funding such a schools‑based programme of activity? Isn’t that the Welsh Government’s job?

Inspiring and developing the creativity of our young people is one of the Arts Council’s key priorities. We’re also committed to finding new, and increased, employment opportunities for artists and arts organisations. This is project that pilots new ways of teaching and learning, and provides new opportunities for artists and arts organisations to contribute to schools learning. Its success will not only make a significant contribution to young people’s learning and attainment, we hope that it will also persuade the Welsh Government to mainstream the provision of arts and creativity in schools. Achieving this objective will more than justify the Arts Council’s investment.

12. What’s going to be different in 5 years’ time as a result of this initiative?

We’re convinced that if we can find the right ways of integrating creativity and the arts into schools teaching, we’ll see Improvements in literacy, numeracy and a reduction in the attainment gap between learners in different parts of Wales.

By the end of the 5 years, at least a third of schools will be Lead Creative Schools (see below), around 600 artists will have been involved in working directly with schools and over 100,000 young people will have experienced working directly with creative professionals. We will have more confident, creative teachers and stronger, more sustainable links between schools and artists/creative practitioners.

As with all ambitious new projects, it’s something of an experiment. However, there will be an extensive programme of Evaluation built into the programme. This will not only measure the impact of the Plan over 5 years, it will also help guide us in making adjustments and improvements along the way.

13. How do local authorities fit into the delivery of the Plan?

Like artists and arts organisations, we expect that local authorities will, in some cases, help deliver specific programmes of work. We will certainly need their grass‑roots knowledge and expertise, as they’re the ones who are often closest to the schools in their area. As we roll out the implementation, we will look for appropriate ways to build them into the various local and regional structures.

Lead Creative Schools Scheme

14. What is the Lead Creative Schools Scheme?

The lead creative schools scheme is an intensive programme of activity that draws on the skills of creative practitioners and teachers working together.

The Scheme aims to put arts and creative learning at the heart of school life. It supports schools to address their important challenges and to bring about significant and sustainable change for teachers and learners. Lead Creative Schools are supported to nurture the creativity of their learners and teachers. Working alongside artists and creative practitioners in their classrooms, the Lead Creative Schools Scheme aims to transform the way that the curriculum is taught by embedding creativity into everyday teaching and learning.

15. How can arts and cultural organisations and artists and creative practitioners engage with the Lead Creative Schools Scheme?

Arts and cultural organisations and artists and creative practitioners will be at the heart of the Lead Creative Schools Scheme. Their active involvement will be critical to the Scheme’s success.

Schools that are successful in applying to join the Lead Creative Schools Scheme will be allocated a specially trained creative professional called a Creative Agent. Creative Agents will be recruited from a range of creative professions such as artists and designers, theatre, music and dance professionals, poets, writers, film makers, digital artists and graphic designers. They can be individuals or work within an arts, cultural or heritage organisation.

As part of the Lead Creative Schools Scheme, artists, arts organisations and creative practitioners will be directly involved in the planning and delivery of projects taking place in schools. The success of the scheme relies on arts practitioners and teachers working together alongside each other.

16. How can artists, creative practitioners and arts organisations become ‘Creative Agents’?

There will be an open application process for Creative Agents. It will open in summer 2015 and details will be available shortly from Arts Council for Wales.

Arts and cultural organisations can apply to be Creative Agents. However, we would expect an individual from within the selected organisation to take on the designated Creative Agent role.

17. How do Creative Agents work with schools?

Creative Agents will work with schools to support them to develop a programme of work which will address an issue which the schools themselves have identified. They will work with one or more successful schools to help plan and develop a bespoke programme of work. They will help the school identity an appropriate arts/creative practitioner or practitioners to deliver the programme and they will support the schools to manage change, evaluate and embed the learning.

18. How long will a Creative Agent work with a school?

The aim is for schools to be in the programme for a minimum of two years and that throughout this time they will be supported by their Creative Agent. Each school will receive between 10 and 16 days support per academic year from their Creative Agent.

19. What kind of training will Creative Agents receive to enable them to work effectively with schools?

Once selected, Creative Agents will receive a four day training programme. The programme will be a blend of theory, practical work and reflection. It will cover all areas of their work as a Creative Agent.

20. What kind of training will artists and creative practitioners receive to enable them to work effectively with schools?

We know that many artists and creative practitioners are already working successfully in schools. However, the Lead Creative Schools Scheme has very specific aims that might not be familiar to everybody. It’s very important that the Scheme is delivered to the same high standards, everywhere across Wales. So the artists and creative practitioners selected to work with schools involved in the Lead Creative Schools Scheme will be expected to participate in a two day training programme. This training will support artists and creative practitioners to understand their role in the Lead Creative Schools Scheme. It will involve a blend of theory, practical work and reflection.

21. Who will broker relationships between Lead Creative Schools and artists and creative practitioners?

The Creative Agent will support schools to broker relationships and to select appropriate artists and creative practitioners. This includes those working in arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

22. When will recruitment begin for Creative Agents?

The application process for Creative Agents will open in summer 2015.

23. How many days will schools have to work with Creative Practitioners and what form with this take?

Schools will receive packages of funding which they will use alongside some of their own budget to pay for the costs of involving Creative Practitioners in the delivery of their Lead Creative Schools programme. Although the budget for each school will vary it is anticipated that during an academic year a school will work with Creative Practitioners for a minimum of 16 and up to a maximum of 40 days. Creative Practitioners will be involved in planning alongside teachers and learners and will also work with them in lessons and in reflecting on learning.

The All Wales Arts and Education Offer

24. What is the All Wales Arts and Education Offer?

The All-Wales Arts and Education Programme is designed to build on, and enhance, existing arts activity in Wales’ schools. The starting point is that there’s already much good activity, but that it’s unevenly available. The aim of the Programme is therefore to extend the range – and quality – of arts experiences available to schools.

25. How can arts and cultural organisations and practitioners engage with the All Wales Arts and Education Programme?

At the heart of Creative Learning through the Arts is a vision that learning about and participating in arts and cultural activities should be central to the education of children and young people. To achieve the kind of developments we want to see will require sustainable partnership and collaboration between arts organisations, creative practitioners and schools.

As with the Lead Creative Schools Scheme, there will be a number of additional ways for arts and cultural organisations and creative practitioners to get involved. They include the ‘Experiencing the Arts’ fund, increased opportunities for regional working provided by four new Arts and Education Networks. There will also be opportunities to be arts champions.

26. What is an Arts and Education Network?

The Networks are the ‘glue’ that binds together the huge range of activity that will happen locally. Part of their job will be to make sense of it all. However, the Network and its members will together also provide information and advice, share best practice and intelligence across their region on interesting and inspiring projects.

The Networks will be aligned with the geographical areas covered by the Regional Education Consortia. As the name implies, we expect that the Networks will be formed a coalition or consortium of individuals and organisations, increasing the range of expertise that’s available.

They’ll help with networking and information exchange; provide a ‘brokerage’ service between schools and artists, arts/cultural organisations. They’ll organise training opportunities for arts practitioners and professional development for teachers, helping each to make the most of their skills and experience. The Networks will also manage and co-ordinate an ‘Arts Champions’ programme, identifying exceptional teachers and/or arts practitioners who will inspire and support their peers.

27. When will the four Arts and Education Networks come into being?

Applications for the four Arts and Education networks will be invited in summer 2015 with the expectation that the Networks will be set up in autumn 2015. By spring 2016 we anticipate that each Network will have a programme of activities underway.

28. What will be the main objective and role of the Arts and Education networks?

The four networks will have a clear remit which will include:

  • Collating and disseminating best practice within their region
  • Establishing and coordinating arts and creative learning networking opportunities for teachers, artists and arts and cultural organisations
  • Supporting brokerage services between schools and artists, arts and cultural organisations
  • Providing training opportunities for artists and creative practitioners
  • Providing opportunities for teachers and artists and creative practitioners to share their knowledge and skills
  • Managing and co-ordinating a ‘local arts champion’ programme
29. Tell me more about the Arts and Education Networks. What will be involved in the application process?

Arts Council of Wales will be inviting applications for the four Arts and Education networks in the summer of 2015. Information about the application process and assessment criteria will be published at that point. Applications could come from a range of different organisations, including arts, education, local authority, not‑for‑profit, private companies.

30. What does the ‘Experiencing the Arts’ fund, mean for arts organisations and practitioners in Wales?

The quick answer is that it will represent more work opportunities. The Experiencing the Arts fund will encourage schools to apply for grants to go ‘one step further’ in their exploration of creative cultural and arts experiences. Schools can apply to this fund to support visits to venues such as galleries and theatres and new and innovative collaborations with artists and arts and cultural organisations.

In all cases schools will be expected to demonstrate that these experiences offer their learners something new and different, that they go ‘over and above’ their existing activity and that these activities enrich learning. This will require artists and arts and cultural organisations to have good partnerships with schools and to develop new opportunities that support the overall aims of the fund.

Arts and Creative Learning Portal

31. What is the Arts and Creative Learning Portal?

The Portal is an online resource for teachers, schools, artists and creative professionals. It will provide information about professional development and arts and cultural opportunities for schools. It will include practical lesson plans and teaching materials, including a Literacy and Numeracy Toolkit offering new approaches to the teaching of these core subjects.

The Arts and Creative Portal will be managed by the Welsh Government as part of their Hwb portal online.

32. Who will be creating the resources for the portal?

The portal will showcase best practice in arts and creative learning wherever it is found in Wales. Teachers and arts organisations will be encouraged to submit resources and case studies. The portal will also provide information about professional development and arts and cultural opportunities for schools.

33. When will the arts and creative learning portal be ready for use?

The portal will be developed in 2015 and launched in spring 2016.


34. How will we find out about opportunities for arts and cultural organisations and artists and creative practitioners?

Information about the opportunities will be published widely. The four Arts and Education Networks will have a key role in promoting opportunities and information will also be available on the arts and creative learning portal and on the Arts Council of Wales website.

Please sign up for the Arts and Education bulletin from Arts Council of Wales or if you have a specific query please email:

Next Steps

35. This is a huge programme of activity. Does the Arts Council have the resources to manage it?

We will shortly begin a recruitment campaign to select project specialists who’ll be able to assist us with implementing the Plan. We’ll be selecting new staff through a public process of recruitment. I you think you might be interested in working on the project, keep your eye on our website.

36. I’m applying to the Arts Council’s Investment Review process, but I also want to be part of the Creative Learning through the Arts plan. My problem is that you’ve not published enough detail for me to include in my application?

Don’t worry. This is a large project with many strands, so in order to make it more manageable we’re going to roll out different aspects of the Plan in phases. When we’re ready to receive applications or proposals, we’ll publish the criteria, the process and timetable.

As far as the Investment Review is concerned, don’t worry about that. If you’re applying to be an Arts Council revenue funded organisation – and expecting to get involved in Creative Learning through the Arts – make sure you refer to that fact in your Investment Review application.

There’s enough published information for you to understand how Creative Learning through the Arts will work. But at this stage your Investment Review application should simply identify which aspects of the Plan you’re looking at, and how this would affect your wider programme of activity.

37. How can you claim that this is new money for the arts in schools when Music Services across Wales are being decimated?

The Welsh Government funds for implementation of this Plan are entirely different to the funds provided by local authorities for Music Services. They are for very different purposes. That said, we do recognise – and share – the very real concerns that Music Services are being cut back in response to the pressures on local government funding. The state of Music Services across Wales varies, and in some areas it is still strong. However, as a point of principle, we absolutely value the opportunities provided by Music Services in providing young people with the chance to learn a musical instrument. This is something we very much want to see protected. We are currently taking part in a task group, established by the Welsh Government, to see what can be done to tackle the issues being faced by Music Services.

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