CNA Knowledge Bank

The human right to create

Sinead Mccarthy at Lea Valley Primary

AiR has established a transformative national offer of arts education delivered through a series of intensive residencies in which artists partner with a school to directly address specific learning ambitions. 

AiR helps to co-design a residency project that meets the needs of individual schools and students, offering a chance to develop practical artistic skills and also offers an insight into what a career in the arts may look like.

Key findings 

Over two academic years – 2018-2020 – AiR has worked with 3245 young people. By partnering with 32 schools and 195 teachers, the programme has offered projects of very high quality, drawing on the skills and capacities of 39 artists from a wide variety of specialist backgrounds. 

AiR has an approach which is predicated on two important aspects. First, it takes the time to understand the ambitions and existing capacities of applicant schools. Second, it thoughtfully and purposefully pairs each with artists who bring an appropriate blend of skills and experience to meet the school’s specific needs. 

While the impact of Covid-19 disrupted delivery somewhat in 2020 there is enough monitoring and evaluation data across both years to be confident that AiR is making a positive difference to young people. It is doing so in the following ways: 

  • Improving the repertoire of creative pedagogies available in schools. 
  • Modelling creative skills and capacities through artist led projects which teachers can relate to and learn from. 
  • Unleashing the creative ambitions of young people related to the arts and creative industries. 
  • Helping schools begin the process of establishing and embedding arts rich curricula in sustainable ways. 
  • Illustrating the power of the arts to help improve student’s attitudes to learning and overall sense of purpose within school settings in terms of specific arts and creative skills, accelerating young people’s development.

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