Dr Rachel Payne - Art Education

Dr Rachel Payne, Senior Lecturer in Art Education at Oxford Brookes University, writes about her experience of working with the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Art, Craft and Design Education.

"I first became involved in the APPG for Art, Craft and Design Education in 2013, when I was invited by Susan Coles, then President of the National Society for Education in Art and Design (NSEAD), to speak about the demise of art teacher education opportunities. Having managed a PGCE at Oxford Brookes from 2004-2012, which had recently closed owing to Government reduction in training allocations, I conducted small-scale research with former PGCE students, mentors and external partners.  Headlines from the study formed the basis of my APPG presentation in June 2013, and an article published in the NSEAD’s AD Magazine, 2014. 

Since 2013 I have worked collaboratively to ensure the reestablishment of the APPG post-election 2015, which gave me insight into democratic processes. I have been involved in an NSEAD survey exploring the impact of policy on art and design educators, which was presented to Nick Gibb MP at a meeting of the APPG in 2016. This has informed much debate about the position of the subject in the English curriculum, including an APPG meeting about arts subjects in the English Baccalaureate, which I attended in 2016. I have been asked to provide core information for both the Chair of the APPG, Sharon Hodgson MP, and the Vice Chair, Earl Clancarty. This has resulted in aspects of my research appearing in speeches, documents and debates in the Commons and Lords chambers. In February 2017 I presented how Initial Teacher Education has altered since 2013. This has become an NSEAD special interest group focus where we are currently seeking funding to conduct research into how subject pedagogy is delivered in school-led training. It also forms the basis of a letter sent by the APPG to the Secretary of State for Education outlining current concerns about diverse training practices.

Each meeting of the APPG for Art, Craft and Design Education lasts about an hour and a half, takes place in a Committee room in either the House of Commons or Portcullis House, and is attended by between 40-60 people. Attendees must arrive at least half an hour early to go through security, and bring proof of the meeting being attended. I am closely involved in the art and design education community, many of whom attend the APPG and are members of the NSEAD, and it is these relationships that have aided my assimilation into the APPG. I have felt nervous about presenting but have always been greatly supported by those involved. 

I view the APPG for Art, Craft and Design Education as the political face of our subject, which provides opportunities to influence the quality and content of national debate. It complements the hard work conducted by the NSEAD advocating the subject to the Department for Education and providing a platform for otherwise unheard voices. I highly recommend getting involved."