Creating and connecting: Generation ART & NSEAD

Artists Hannah George and Ian Whitmore working on 'Flight of Fancy' at Quay Arts

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Sophie Leach

Assistant General Secretary of NSEAD and editor AD magazine

The chance to exhibit work beyond the school gates had a huge impact on my own secondary education. Other students and schools from around the UK were to show in the same space, I was for the first time connected to young people beyond my classroom. It was a powerful message of both achievement and acceptance, it broadened my horizons, it was motivational and I began to value my learning.

Generation ART has been a twenty first century opportunity for children and young people to exhibit their work not only outside school, but in a range of prestigious settings. Against a political backdrop of policy changes in education, many of which have sidelined art and design, this is an immense achievement.

Teachers' Inset, Turner Contemporary
Teachers’ Inset, Turner Contemporary

Connecting with other educators, and inspiring outstanding art, craft and design education, fuels the work of The National Society for Education in Art and Design (NSEAD). We are the professional association for art, craft and design educators in the UK and we, that is all our members, seek to champion, promote and if necessary defend art, craft and design education.  Our members, partners and supporters include individuals and organizations: youth leaders, teachers, lecturers, they work in galleries and museums, they are parents and carers, artists, makers and designers.




_DSC4496We believe art, craft and design education is vital to our communities, our society, our economy and ourselves. So why do we need to champion and defend our subject and why is being part of network so important?

A key role of NSEAD is to provide and gather information on, and advocacy for, our subject. From our annual surveys, NSEAD’s role as an independent trade union, our social media networks and Boards we know that there are challenges facing art, craft and design educators as well as practitioners in the cultural sectors, creative and digital media industries.

Key report findings in the NSEAD survey 2015-2016 are disturbing.

This survey provides evidence of the growing impact of these changes, foisted on schools through a culture of subject devaluation by policies which imply that even successful study and high standards of achievement in the arts will limit career and university choices.

For those who would benefit from the transferable skills accessed through the arts, or for those who aspire to a successful, rewarding and world-class career in one of our creative and media industries, this report identifies how policy decisions are beginning to disadvantage some children and young people.

 (President’s Foreward by Ged Gast, NSEAD survey 2015-2016)

Through our networks, our collaborations and consultations with government we will continue to advocate for our subject and to identify, signpost and champion the very best art, craft and design education.

The NSEAD Manifesto for Art, Craft and Design Education sets out and positions our subject within the context of seven evidenced-based policy proposals which aim to ensure a world-class art, craft and design education for all learning communities. These policy proposals include:

  • A curriculum across all phases and levels that is inspirational, aspirational and makes explicit the distinct value and future of art, craft and design education

We propose an art, craft and design curriculum that embraces the historic, the contemporary and the future; and signposts participants to potential further and higher education, career choices and opportunities within the visual arts, creative and cultural industries

  • A strategy for access and underachievement that recognises the inclusivity of art, craft and design

The inclusive, diverse, transformational and restorative power of the visual arts is in evidence among at risk and hard to reach children, young people and adults. The role of the participatory arts is well documented in its ability to effect social and cultural change.

We propose strategies to overcome underachievement of boys at GCSE and A level within art, craft and design. Significantly fewer boys study art, craft and design at key stage 4.

  • Effective and creative partnerships
 with museums, galleries and practitioners that will provide a bridge into the creative and cultural sectors

Partnerships between the museum and gallery and formal and informal education sectors provide essential access to the arts. They act as creative brokers of opportunity for engagement with creative practitioners, professional development, the promotion of visual literacy and cultural confidence and empowerment.

If you are a teacher, lecturer, curriculum leader, early years practitioner, gallery educator, governor, NQT, PGCE art and design student or trainee teacher, parent or carer, NSEAD would like to hear from you. We have very lively online forums and networks that you can join, publications (newsletters, magazines and an international journal) all authored by our members that share information and promote outstanding practice; many of our members join our Boards or Council to inform and guide all that we do. If you would like to get involved or be linked to our members in your area please contact us at:

Or simply browse the NSEAD website for useful resources.