The Teaching Artist Context Setting Paper

Context Setting Paper

Investigate and reference current educational and performing arts policies, strategies and initiatives (both national and for your own work setting(s) to set out your teaching context.

What national and work-related strategies, policies and priorities are influencing your work as a teaching artist?

How is this influencing who you teach, where and when?

How is this influencing what you teach?

How is this influencing how you teach?

What opportunities do these strategies/policies/initiatives present?


The following extract, taken from Scotland’s ‘Curriculum for Excellence: Expressive Arts – Principles and Practice’ guidelines describes my teaching context as a Teaching Artist, often working for ‘professional arts companies’ or as a free lance, self employed musician and educator working within the formal education sector.

“The expressive arts are rich and stimulating, with the capacity to engage and fascinate learners of all ages, interests and levels of skill and achievement. It is therefore important that all teachers and educators look for opportunities within their own teaching approaches for interdisciplinary learning and to foster partnerships with professional arts companies, creative adults and cultural organisations.” [1]

(Curriculum for Excellence: Expressive Arts – Principles and Practice)

I have been fostering partnerships in Primary Schools; Nursery Schools and in Community Arts settings for around a decade now. My work has taken me to the Highlands of Scotland; the Small Isles of Scotland; Dumfries and Galloway; the Isle of Mull; Northern Ireland and Southern Spain but, for the most part, I work mostly between Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The celebration and recognition of the value of the arts and the importance of artistic participation and engagement, for all children, highlighted through Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence has given my creative practice as a Teaching Artist/Musician respected recognition within both formal and informal educational sectors.

 “Learning in, through and about the expressive arts enables children and young people to:

  • be creative and express themselves in different ways
  • experience enjoyment and contribute to other people’s enjoyment through creative and expressive performance and presentation
  • develop important skills, both those specific to the expressive arts and those which are transferable
  • develop an appreciation of aesthetic and cultural values, identities and ideas and, for some, prepare for advanced learning and future careers by building foundations for excellence in the expressive arts.

Building the Curriculum 1 [amended]” [1]

(Curriculum for Excellence: Expressive Arts – Principles and Practice)

Widening access and opportunity for participation is at the heart of my work. We are extremely privileged in Scotland that there are numerous funding pathways that are passionate about funding opportunities for children and young people to engage in music making and artistic activity. From foundations to charities and trusts there are several sources that fund my work. In the past, I have found it really challenging that Creative Scotland’s ‘Youth Music Initiative’ [2] funding strands cannot be used for work in schools during school hours. I believe that this is because specialist music provision should not be used to replace curriculum music time. Although I can understand this reasoning, I feel that there should be more flexibility and support for Teaching Artists to work in partnership with schools during school time.

Seeking funding for my work and reporting to funders is an important aspect of my profession as a Teaching Artist. I do not want my creative practice to be exclusive and so, over the years, I have been working in partnership with charities and not for profit musical organisations as a way to secure funding for projects. Applying to public funding bodies naturally influences who I teach, where I teach and when I teach but I mostly have artistic freedom over the content of what I teach. I often prepare work on particular themes or sources of inspiration that are offered to me by the people I work with. This is very inspiring because I feel that I can shape my creative practice around collective thoughts and ideas; I can maintain artistic integrity while connecting with other people.

My work is always concerned with enhancing the holistic development of the people I work with. In the words of Barbara Haselbach, my professor at the Orff Institute, I whole heartedly believe that “the role of the teacher is to teach the person not the subject” [3]. My projects are funded to nurture aspects of personal development (enhancing confidence, self esteem, communication skills, literacy and emotional wellbeing) and community development (social integration, community identity and redusing isolation). In my work, I believe that musical and cultural activity is being explored as a way through which to meet a wide variety of human needs. Human needs that are essential for learning. As highlighted in the UNESCO ‘Four Pillars of Learning’ [4], ‘Learning to Be’ and ‘Learning to Live Together’ are fundamental principles for reshaping education:

“Learning to be: to provide self analytical and social skills to enable individuals to develop to their fullest potential psycho-socially, affectively as well as physically, for a all-round complete person.

Learning to live together: to expose individuals to the values implicit within human rights, democratic principles, intercultural understanding and respect and peace at all levels of society and human relationships to enable individuals and societies to live in peace and harmony.” [4]

This feeling is also clearly articulated in the introduction of Creative Scotland’s ‘Time To Shine: Scotland’s Youth Arts Strategy For Ages 0-25’:

“engagement with culture will nurture personal qualities that will help our young people to grow confidently as citizens and towards realising their ambitions, wherever they may lie.” [5]

(Fiona Hyslop, Time to Shine, 2013)

Teaching in Higher Arts Education contexts, my teaching practice is shaped by the needs and requirements of course guidelines and Learning Outcomes. The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland – BMus Handbook 2014/2015 [6] enables me to frame the content of my work as I look to complementing the Learning Outcomes of each module that I teach on through my creative and teaching practice. Throughout this academic year, I have taught on Teaching Musician, Complementary Musical Skills and Community Music modules.

Over the last few years, increased attention and value has been given to the important role of Music Education and Teaching Artistry within the Music Profession. In 2012, a reformed curriculum was integrated into the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS), the new curriculum highlights that it “enables students to make a contribution in the world as artists, educators, advocates and active citizens” [7] and that, as a result, graduates will “be excellent and reflective arts practitioners – able to lead, create, achieve and innovate” [7]. My area of teaching is very connected to both fields of Music Education and Teaching Artistry; therefore, there have been many new and inspiring opportunities for me to develop my teaching practice as a Teaching Artist/Musician in my specialism of the Orff Schulwerk approach to Music, Dance and Speech Education, within the RCS. I feel that I am being recognised for my creative practice and teaching practice as an Orff Shulwerk teacher and pedagogue. Furthermore, I believe that my practice complements and enhances the values and intentions of the RCS, in helping to equip students with a wide range of creative and transferable, multi-disciplinary artistic skills.

“Each student will be exposed to an even richer variety of influences to encourage their unique qualities as an artist. It creates the space for not just disciplinary excellence but the opportunity for transdisciplinary work.” [7]

In addition to RCS course handbooks and institutional frameworks and guidelines, my attention has recently been drawn to the UK Quality Code for Higher Education [8]. The purpose of the Quality Code:

“The Quality Code sets out the formal Expectations that all UK higher education providers reviewed by QAA are required to meet. It is the nationally agreed, definitive point of reference for all those who deliver or support UK higher education programmes.” [9]

The Quality Code concerns for maintaining academic standards, assuring quality and maintaining fairness in Higher Education within the UK are extremely important. Furthermore, The United Kingdom Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) [10] is of equal value and merit. By aligning my Professional Development Plan targets to the dimensions of the UKPSF, described as ‘Areas of Activity’, ‘Core Knowledge’ and ‘Professional Values’; I feel that I am acknowledging and respecting the professionalism of my conscientious teaching practice. I feel that I am recognising my teaching practice within professional fields and dignifying my practice in this way feels really important for this stage in my career.


[1] Curriculum for Excellence: Expressive Arts – Principles and Practice, Education Scotland [Accessed 25.01.2015]

[2] Youth Music Initiative Funding, Creative Scotland (Accessed 15.01.2015)


[4] (Accessed 20.04.2015)

[5] Time To Shine: Scotland’s Youth Arts Strategy For Ages 0-25, Creative Scotland 2013 [Accessed 16.01.2015]

[6] Royal Conservatoire of Scotland – BMus Handbook 2014/2015: ( [Accessed 10.12.2014)

[7] (Accessed 20.04.2015)

[8] The UK Quality Code for Higher Education: A Brief Guide, The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education 2015 [Accessed 16.01.2015]

[9] Quote taken from page 5 of The UK Quality Code for Higher Education: A Brief Guide, The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education 2015 [Accessed 16.01.2015]

[10] (Accessed 16.01.2015)





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