Established in 1888, we continue to welcome everyone who shares and celebrates our values.
Our origins can be traced back more than 130 years, when a group of art school principals recognised the need to raise the standard of art teaching and improve the status of art teachers. The wonderful photograph above shows the group - spot the odd one out (hint, they are wearing a hat!). This group of principals founded the Society of Art Masters (SAM), which became the National Society of Art Masters early in the last century.
In 1899 HRH Edward Prince of Wales became Honorary President of the Society and in 1901, as King Edward VII, he became the Society of Art Masters' patron. This link with the throne lapsed upon the death of King George V in 1936.
With the development of art and crafts as part of general education, and the appointment of men and women as full-time specialist art teachers in schools, the membership was extended and, in 1944, the Society adopted the title National Society for Art Education (NSAE).
Another strand of the Society's history concerns the Society for Education through Art (SEA) which grew out of a framework of an institute for exploring new ideas in art and education, proposed by Henry Moore, Eric Gill, Sir Herbert Read and Alexander Barclay Russell.
The SEA itself was formed in 1940 by the amalgamation of the Art Teacher's Guild and the New Society of Art Teachers. After two years of negotiations the SEA and the NSAE merged their interests to become the National Society for Education in Art and Design (NSEAD) in 1984, becoming a certified Trade Union at this point. In 1995 the Association of Centres for Art and Design Teacher Education decided to merge with the Society and a Teacher Education Board was established to serve the special interests of this group. The NSEAD launched the Journal of Art & Design Education (now The International Journal of Art & Design Education) in 1982 with Henry Moore as its founding patron.
In early 2009 A4, formerly the Association of Advisers and Inspectors of Art and Design took a decision to merge its interests with those of the NSEAD. The process of convergence was completed with the full implementation of a revised constitution and rules on 1st January 2010.
In 2018 NSEAD was accepted as a member of the TUC and works alongside other Tade unions to promote and protect the rights and interests of our members in their workplace, and work towards the regulation of relations’ between workers and their employers.
Professor Sir Christopher Frayling was appointed patron of the Society in May 2002. He was joined by Sir John and Lady Frances Sorrell and by Sir Nicholas Serota in 2010 and by Professor Magdalene Odundo OBE in 2011, Bob & Roberta Smith RA OBE in 2012, Cornelia Parker RA OBE in 2017 and Keith Brymer Jones in 2019.
Since we began, we have been served by over 50 Presidents of the Society. Dr Rachel Payne currently holds the position. Michele Gregson is the 7th General Secretary and the second woman to hold that post. Times change – NSEAD is now a more expansive and diverse organisation supporting thousands of art, craft and design educators than it has ever been.