The Big Landscape launches

After five years of research and development NSEAD have announced the launch of The Big Landscape website – a digital ‘atlas’ that maps the breadth and scope of art, craft and design, using three big questions: What? Why? and How?

Described as the most comprehensive mapping of the subject ever undertaken in the UK the website, which was launched today, aims to provide a complete framework and knowledge bank to support curriculum design and professional development for art, craft and design educators. 

The Big Landscape Project emerged from the work of the NSEAD Better Practice Special Interest Group (SIG) which was formed in 2019 to explore ways to support art educators and re-invigorate the art, craft and design curriculum.

SIG chair and NSEAD President Elect Andy Ash explained why this work is so important:

‘To clarify what we mean by orthodoxy, we considered previous iterations of curriculum models, schemes and guidance published across the regions (particularly in England), including examination specifications where the outcomes were considered to have led to a ‘commonality of practice.’ This can sometimes devalue curiosity and perpetuate an over-formulaic approach to project planning and curriculum priorities. 

‘If there is no prescribed artist list, no commonly agreed model of skills progression, essential knowledge or techniques that, if not taught, will invalidate your curriculum, then we must ask: What are we teaching? Why are we teaching the things we teach? And how does the way we teach it result in better learning outcomes?’

NSEAD Members with a wide range of curriculum expertise came together and formed the Better Practice SIG and considered the best way to address these questions. They quickly identified a key priority to define and build guidance for better curriculum design, pedagogy and learning approaches, that would be of practical use to teachers and researchers alike.

The results of their research were published as a visual map of the subject. The first edition of the ‘Big Landscape Atlas’ was published as a poster in AD 37 in Spring 2023 and was received with great enthusiasm by NSEAD members. 

'The Big Landscape poster that was sent to us in the post is incredible as everything is on one format, and I have never seen anything like that before. (Member of The Big Landscape Supporters group)

The original map or ‘atlas’ has now been developed as a digital toolkit drawing together an authoritative bank of art, craft and design subject definitions, research references, further reading and examples of better practice. Rayvenn Shaleigha D'Clark worked with the SIG writing team and web developer Paul Bellamy on the monumental task of creating a user-friendly website, which would create a platform for the NSEAD community to share examples of their better practice, building a dynamic resource to highlight a multiplicity of approaches to curriculum design and teaching and learning in our subject. 

General Secretary Michele Gregson said: 

'We are so grateful to all those who have been part of The Big Landscape project. NSEAD members are leading the curriculum conversation for art, craft and design, which can only mean better experiences and outcomes for learners. 

The Big Landscape is unique. It is a shining example of what can be achieved by a professional learning community who are immersed in and dedicated to subject specialist learning. It is really an astonishing enterprise. As well as creating a dynamic space for curriculum research and development, it provides hard pressed teachers with a resource that enables them to review and adapt their curriculum to meet the needs of their learners, in their context. It is an essential resource for any school that is serious about improving their art, craft and design curriculum.'

Start your journey into The Big Landscape today.