New ambitious programme reigniting ceramics in education launched in the home of British ceramics

CLAY School, a new and ambitious programme to bring clay back into the classroom and creativity onto the curriculum, is launched by the British Ceramics Biennial (BCB) in Stoke-on-Trent. With an ambition to get every school child in the city to engage with clay by 2021, CLAY School is set to be a national beacon project that will demonstrate the importance of hands-on arts and cultural education.

Inspired by the heritage of Stoke-on-Trent – world renowned as the home of British ceramics – CLAY School will ignite the use of ceramics across all elements of the curriculum. It will be launched by one of the CLAY School Ambassadors – Kate Malone, ceramicist and judge on BBC 2’s Great Pottery Throw Down, with a keynote speech at World of Wedgwood, one of the founding partners. The CLAY School launch is part of the British Ceramics Biennial, an international ceramics festival, taking place in Stoke-on-Trent until 5 November.

Commenting ahead of the launch, Kate Malone said: ‘I went to a big secondary comprehensive school that had a superb art education department that filled a good section of the school timetable. This is why I thrived. It gave me confidence and a basic ability to feel able-bodied and capable for my life ahead.

‘A strong art education for children is not necessarily to make a nation of potters or woodworkers, but to make individuals who are able, practical and creative in mind and body, more able to contribute to a community. A doctor, teacher, entrepreneur, nurse or gardener who is able to be creative has to be a good one. From creativity comes originality. A learned set of hand skills makes a person educated in action, able to DO.

‘This is why the CLAY School is such a joy to see and is so important. I am thrilled to see it so full of life and imagination. CLAY School emphasises and recognises the importance of a fully rounded child.’

CLAY School is aimed at all Key Stages and is designed to support, enrich and connect all elements of the curriculum using ceramics. By introducing ceramics into the STEM subjects making STEAM, CLAY School will show young people how the arts relate to industry and can lead to employment opportunities that go far beyond the creative industries. It will also support teachers in continued professional development, giving them the skills and knowledge to use clay across all elements of the curriculum. CLAY School’s ambition is to get every school child in the city to get clay under their fingernails and be inspired by the possibilities of clay by 2021, the year that the city hopes to be crowned UK City of Culture. Following this, the aspiration is for the programme to be developed nationally.

Barney Hare Duke, Artistic Director of the British Ceramics Biennial comments: ‘It is vital for all young people to be exposed to hands-on, creative experiences from an early age. Clay is part of Stoke-on-Trent’s DNA and the material is synonymous with the place. It is important that students here have real opportunities to engage with clay to learn about heritage, experience the empowerment of creativity, and shape their futures.’

Clay School Director, Katie Leonard comments: ‘Our focused CLAY School partnership with local schools and colleges is critical and actively challenges the national tide of diminishing opportunity to work with ceramics in education. Through this programme, we can re-introduce clay into the curriculum and raise standards of activity, opening up possibilities of progression through learning into the creative industries.’

CLAY School is part of the British Ceramics Biennial’s ongoing education work with schools in Stoke-on-Trent. To date, BCB has worked with 15 schools in the city, introducing 995 school children to clay for the first time and training 116 teachers to use clay across the curriculum.

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12 Oct 2017