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Helen Wills, Creative Director, Merseyside celebrates a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme for the education and creative sector and outlines its significance.

From the beginning of the Merseyside programme, we identified that both the education and creative sectors had a need for professional development, to inspire the evolution of common values between them. A common experience for both sectors is that creative professionals are flown into a school to deliver a workshop, but there is no planning with teachers, no negotiation with pupils and no joint evaluation. There is a real need to challenge the stereotypes held in both sectors. How many times have we heard a teacher say, ?Young people enjoyed the session, but I couldn?t replicate those techniques to enrich my own future lessons?? Or again, how often have we heard creative professionals say, ?The teacher sat at the back doing their marking, leaving me to manage the classroom and create at the same time??

Sharing a language

In order to overcome these negative and uncomfortable issues, we had to discover the shared language between the sectors. Both have their own acronyms, processes, practices and approaches to empowering young people and each needs to understand the other. And with more than 16,000 people employed in the cultural and creative sectors and over 300 schools in Merseyside ? where to start? The answer was, we felt, to start with constructive discussion.

In the education world CPD is the norm, yet for creatives it is more problematic to define. It is understood and accepted that creative professionals working in schools do not wish to become teachers but they do need some core skills, understanding, capabilities and approaches. ?We do not want to train to be teachers but we want to more effective in our delivery of creative programmes in schools,? says Marie Gelling, a paper artist. But what do creatives need to maximise their strengths?

After 18 months of consultation, discussion and a training needs analysis, Merseyside has established its Advanced Skills Creatives (ASC) programme. It was led by Gerri Moriarty, Geoff White and Peter Greenhalgh. The core aim was to enable Advanced Skills Creatives to feel confident to apply powerful, mind-friendly learning principles and practices, such as preferred learning styles and multiple intelligence theory. Furthermore, the programme is building creatives? knowledge of new developments in the education and cultural sectors, and raising awareness of the social and economic policy issues that impact on the lives of young people.

Dave Ward, an experienced writer and co-founder of Windows (an organisation that works with writers and schools), said that the new skills and perspectives gained from this programme are enabling him to reflect on his work: ?We are pretty good at what we do but I?m finding that we can really add value to what we do by employing some of the techniques gained on the ASC Programme?.

Out of the comfort zone

Alongside the ASC programme, Merseyside teachers have been participating in Learning for Creativity, which focuses on the delivery of learning that is appropriate for every child. The impact on participating teachers has been extremely positive and for some, an emotional life-changing experience. As a primary teacher has written in her evaluation:
?For me this programme came along at exactly the right time. I have been teaching for ten years and was nestled into my comfort zone and doing things I felt most comfortable with. The children made progress, they enjoyed being in my class and the parents on the whole were satisfied. There lies the problem, in the word ?satisfied?. It was all quite mundane and I had lost my sparkle.?

The next step for Merseyside is to continue the delivery of the programmes to both the education and creative sectors and also establish a model to bring both groups together to improve the delivery of creative activities in schools. This will not only support the sustainability of the CP approach, but will also provide creatives with the confidence to request time with schools, to plan and evaluate their work and, equally importantly, ensure that the fee they receive reflects their professional status. This is not the end of the story but the beginning.

Creative conversations

From the start of Creative Partnerships in 2002, CPD has been fundamental to the initiative, with the following aims:

- Supporting teachers and creative practitioners to develop their own practice.
- Establishing environments for creative learning that foster innovative thinking in young people.

What are the benefits?

- Creative professionals gain insights into the challenges facing schools.
- They develop long-term relationships with schools in the process.
- School staff gain practical skills that benefit their colleagues, schools and pupils.