The majority of teachers acknowledged positively the assistance and guidance

The majority of teachers acknowledged positively the

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The majority of teachers acknowledged positively the assistance and guidance received from the support services, School Development Planning Support (SDPS) initiative and the Regional Curriculum Support Service, in making possible the continuous development of school planning. Parents’ involvement in supporting the visual arts in schools appears to be limited. Parents were found to be involved only occasionally in policy formation or in contributing to and organising learning resources for the school in this curriculum area. It was recommended that all six strands and the two strand units should be implemented in a consistent manner, and that each pupil should have a balance of art activities and experiences in each strand. An equal emphasis should be placed on the strand units making art and looking and responding to art. Arts education in Northern Ireland primary schools In 1989, the arts, that is ‘music’ and ‘art’, became statutory subjects under the Northern Ireland (Common) Curriculum. In essence these areas, like all subjects, mirrored the post-primary provision. That is each subject was presented as a discrete set of requirements which were intended to be taught in separate, timetabled lessons. Each subject under this arrangement contained a great deal of content and indeed it was rare in practice for teachers to be able to teach all that was in the syllabi or “Programmes of Study” in any subject area apart from those tested in the ‘11plus’ examination. For this and many other reasons the curriculum was generally regarded as unsatisfactory and a process of revision was undertaken. The aim of this process was not only to reduce the content to manageable proportions but to return to the first principles of primary education by applying the most up to date research findings on how children learn and by giving more freedom and autonomy to teachers. Most significantly, a complete break was intended with the discrete subject model and also a return to best practice in the cross-curricular approach underlay the model. The primary phase of the curriculum comprises three stages: the Foundation Stage (years 1 and 2), Key Stage 1 (years 3 and 4), and Key Stage 2 (years 5, 6 and 7). The curriculum is set out in six areas of learning of which ‘the arts’ is one, comprising Art and design, drama and music. However, although the areas of learning are set out separately, the curriculum states that teachers should, where appropriate, integrate learning across the six areas to make relevant connections for children. This connectedness underpins the curriculum and has great significance for the arts. If this philosophy is followed to its conclusion then the arts will cease to be ‘Cinderella’ subjects and will achieve equal weight and status with other areas.
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