Teaching and Learning Strategy
Introduction: The context for developing the teaching and learning strategy within the School
The School was the first educational institution to provide programmes in the traditional arts. Its mission is to inspire the practice and continuity of the traditional arts across the world and their regeneration in contemporary contexts. Over the past 25 years, its activities have grown so that they now encompass research degrees, taught Masters programmes, Outreach projects, Open Programme short courses and workshops and collaborative activities with international partners.
One of the School’s principal strategic priorities is to develop, through cycles of experimentation and reflection, models of teaching and learning which are appropriate to the traditional arts and which enable students to achieve an understanding of how the traditional arts are
- an embodiment of the principles of the order of nature
- a manifestation of the common values across the contexts in which they are conceived
- an embodiment of the metaphysical in the physical.
In articulating and implementing approaches to teaching and learning which accord with the School’s ethos and mission, these models, which will be discussed later in this strategy document, share the following key principles:
- balance between arts practice as research and other research methods
- extension beyond the academic context into practical application
- evaluation of the academic curriculum through practical application
- creation of a supportive open studio community in which ideas, knowledge and discoveries are shared
- promotion of professional and personal growth through the holistic experience of the traditional arts as a synthesis of wisdom, knowledge and practical skills.
The School’s teaching and learning strategy embraces strategic priorities around the following key areas:
- to recruit and provide an appropriate learning environment for students interested in traditional arts
- to develop appropriate and robust curricula in the traditional arts through experimentation, reflection, evaluation and practical application
- to deliver well-resourced and supported formal and non-formal curricula in ways befitting an education in the traditional arts
- to devise and implement modes of assessment that meet the learning outcomes of programmes in the traditional arts
- to ensure the intellectual, practical and aspirational quality of its programmes in the traditional arts
- to ensure that there are professional, up-to-date and appropriate tutors to deliver the School’s programmes at all levels
- to ensure that students engage fully in appropriate ways with the curricula and the principles which underpin them.
Student recruitment, admissions, induction, widening access, and internationalisation
Student Recruitment / Admissions
In accordance with its ethos and mission outlined above, the strategic priority of the School is to attract students wishing to work, or currently working, as traditional artists. A significant number of students who enter the School are already accomplished artists and the School seeks to ensure that they enhance the dynamic of the learning environment through sharing their practice, expertise, their research questions, practical skills, ideas and experimentation.
Student recruitment to the School’s award-bearing educational programmes in the UK which include MA and research degrees (MPhil and PhD) validated by the University of Wales Trinity St David take place once a year. But in order to be as accessible as possible to students who have an interest in this new field, the School ensures that potential students who approach it at any point in the year are welcomed and provided with advice, information and guidance.
In order to be as accessible and as transparently fair to as many potential students as possible, and in accordance with QAA Expectations underpinning its Quality Code, the School seeks to ensure that its procedures
- give all prospective students a fair and accurate reflection of the School’s ethos and mission
- are underpinned by transparent entry requirements, both academic and non- academic, and are designed so as to present no unnecessary barriers to prospective students
- enable the School to make a full and fair assessment of applicants in accordance with its ethos and mission and enable applicants to make informed decisions.
- are conducted by authorised and appropriate members of the School and that it is made clear to prospective students how these processes will be conducted, what is involved in them and what prospective students have to do.
- enable the School to select students who are able to complete the programme as judged by their achievement and their potential
- use assessment methods that are reliable and valid and underpinned by appropriate organisational structures and processes.
The School ensures that there is a shared understanding of these strategic principles and priorities among all those involved in recruitment, selection and admission and that they are monitored, reviewed and updated so that they continue to support the School’s ethos and mission.
The School ensures that its MA admission teams will review applications for the breadth of their work, drawing skills, design ability, team working ability and general artistic awareness and that its research degree admission tutors will consider the research and artistic background of applicants, the potential of their proposed project, and the guidance needed to formulate a creditable research or arts practice as research project. In all cases, the School ensures that its admission teams recruit students with a demonstrable interest in the traditional arts, a willingness and capacity to share the ethos and mission of the School and participate in its open community. In the case of overseas applications, the School ensures that applicants reach an appropriate overall score on the IELTS test.
The School’s strategic priorities in recruitment and admissions are to recruit candidates who
- have the ability to discuss traditional art knowledgeably and demonstrate an awareness of its relevance in the contemporary world
- present a portfolio of practical work at a suitable level of skill to take a Research Degree or a taught MA course – that includes reflective study underpinning the development of the work and some evidence of practice as research
- demonstrate the ability to articulate an understanding and commitment to the ethos and activities of the School and also be able to discuss what potentially they would contribute to its learning environment, culture and spiritual life
- show the ability to integrate knowledge, art & craft skill in the traditional arts
- demonstrate their ability to share ideas and participate in cooperative projects, engage in promoting the School’s ethos through traditional art & craft work based on harmonic relationships and universal laws underlying nature.
The School ensures that prospective students are prepared for its ethos and its programmes through an induction programme that is designed to enable them to
- better understand and participate in the mission of the School
- engage with and benefit from its methods of teaching and learning
- participate effectively in the open community of the School based on the mutual exchange of knowledge and expertise.
- become familiar with the resources offered at the School. The induction programme consists of
- a pre-course introductory project
- pre-arrival induction packs
- a two-week, in-School induction and orientation programme which will include areas and topics such as student support; handbooks; tutor meetings and forums; advice sessions from other students; introductions to the studio, library and other resources; library, museum and gallery visits; practical financial, transport and accommodation matters.
Internationalism / Widening access and diversity
In accordance with its strategic priority to provide teaching and learning in the regeneration and renewal of the traditional arts as living practice, the School is necessarily international in its context of education, student composition, programme content and activities. This mutually benefits the student and traditional practitioner by encouraging a fresh approach to traditional arts and crafts which helps to sustain and further contemporary practice.
The School seeks to make its education programmes and other educational initiatives are available to students from a wide range of regional and cultural backgrounds as well as widening access to people from different disciplines with non-artistic qualifications. The strategy of the School is to widen access by operating an equal opportunities policy with strategic emphasis on staff training e.g. to support students with dyslexia.
The scope of the School’s international programmes has increased considerably over the past five years and its international outreach activities extend to almost every continent. This active engagement with local communities to sustain their traditional arts increasingly attracts aspiring young artists to its core educational programmes in London.
Curriculum development and relationship to staff research and/or professional practice
An important aspect of the School’s Teaching and Learning strategy is to integrate all its work and activities: research, educational initiatives, community and outreach projects and the schools’ award-bearing programmes in the UK and overseas. The principal strategic priority of the School is to develop curricula that
- provide students with practical skills, knowledge, research skills particularly in practice as research, and the aptitude to be successful traditional artists
- enable students to acquire transferable skills such as the ability to conduct independent research and practice; analyse spatial systems; evaluate and synthesise ideas and information; participate in peer review, dialogue and critical evaluation; evaluate a range of theoretical perspectives and interpretations in contemporary practice; and develop a critical reflective approach to creative work.
The curricula are designed to promote a balance of practice, practice as research and theoretical studies, through contextual studies, seminars, lectures, crits and tutorials, which is reflected in the specific aims of all its educational programmes:
To establish a rigorous approach to the exploration and critical awareness of the universal principles underlying the authentic practice and renewal of the traditional arts and crafts; to generate practitioners with broad-based experience, knowledge and technical skills who are able to undertake independent professional practice and practice as research.
To support the personal and professional development of students to become competent practitioners.
To promote traditional arts and crafts as a contemporary discipline that integrates high standards of artistic and technical ability with profound theoretical appreciation of the principles and philosophy.
To instil attitudes of dedication to, and to emphasise the importance of, students’ contribution to sustaining and renewing the traditional art and craft activity in various regions of the world at risk from the effects of ‘globalisation’.
To enable students to have access to specialist research resources as well as emphasising critical evaluation of them, to support students to select and undertake a significant major assignment in the traditional arts; to inspire students to participate successfully in relevant activity at the forefront of the continual renewal of the traditional arts and crafts.
These aims provide the framework within which the subjects in the MA curriculum are brought together in order to enable students to understand the principles informing the traditional arts, acquire skills in different arts and crafts and achieve a broad appreciation of what being a traditional artist or craftsperson involves. The modules -Traditional Painting, Architectural Crafts and Ceramic Craft, Letter-forms and Islimi, Traditional and Islamic Geometry, and Contextual Studies – and the project-led second part of the MA provide a framework within which students are introduced to some key areas of practice in the traditional arts and to the philosophical and theoretical perspectives underlining them.
The School seeks to provide a forward-looking curriculum in the regeneration of the traditional arts in contemporary contexts through
- arts practice as research
- the employment of practitioner tutors. The School’s strategy to appoint practitioner tutors for their skill and ability to demonstrate an exemplary level of practical ability which they can pass-on to their students. It ensures the quality of this aspect
of the curriculum through the role of senior tutors who instruct and mentor visiting practitioners and monitor the curriculum and delivery of workshops through direct observation and student feedback.
Curriculum development and academic standards
The School guarantees the academic quality and integrity of its award-bearing programmes through
- close scrutiny by external examiners who provide informal feedback and formal reports to the validating bodies which are shared with students and to which the School is required to provide a response to the respective validating body and, if necessary, an action plan
- systematic scrutiny by the School’s Academic Board which reviews the curriculum of all the School’s programmes throughout the year
- constant formal and non-formal dialogue between staff members
- ensuring tutors on award-bearing programmes regularly review and update programme specifications and module descriptors, including objectives, assessment and bibliographies, at team meetings
- proactively participating in the quinquennial review of programmes by its validating bodies and by QAA reviews
- regularly receiving formal and informal student feedback.
The School ensures that robust procedures and processes are in place to obtain student feedback. These procedures include
- meetings with student/student representatives in Course Boards of Studies, Student Forum and Outreach/Open Programme meetings.
- effective and appropriate student representation on programme and strategic committees with external membership.
- regular consultative meetings, held without the presence of School staff, of students on programmes validated by external bodies with their programme liaison tutors who provide feedback to the senior staff of the School and to their respective validating bodies.
The School ensures that there are clear objectives and criteria against which programmes are accessed. In accordance with UWTSD regulations, these are published in the respective programme handbooks which the School ensures are discussed with students.
It is a strategic priority of the School to ensure that the procedures and regulations of its validating bodies are understood and observed by its staff and students. The processes, roles and responsibilities for programme design, development and approval are clearly defined by the School’s validating bodies and the process is systematically evaluated through the Joint Board of Studies and the RDC. The School follows the procedures of the UWTSD Quality Handbooks and engages in an annual monitoring review process.
Preparation of the QAA Higher Education Review documentation also requires student and staff participation in self evaluation and oversight of processes to develop academic quality, enhancement of learning opportunities and public information.
Curriculum development and external referencing in the traditional arts
The School takes an holistic approach to curriculum development which brings together different arts practices and ensures that its outreach projects and the involvement of its alumni have an important role in translating the ethos of the School into its curricula. This is achieved through ensuring that
- the curriculum is based on student experience of a wide spectrum of national and international outreach projects and not only more formal academic classroom and studio environments
- learning develops experientially through a range of contexts: arts practice as research; community projects, crafts development, vocational training programmes and cultural heritage projects
- the curriculum in its outreach activities are project-led and are informed by practices and methodologies developed in the taught postgraduate programmes and by doctoral students who are involved in the teaching
- curricula are practice based so that tutors teach through interactive demonstrations
- what is taught results in practical outcomes
- tutors teach what they themselves have learnt through their own experience and practice; and students are required to learn and develop practical skills
- teaching, in the School’s outreach activities, taught postgraduate provision and postgraduate research student supervision is informed by the practice as research of its staff and students at all levels within a community where collaboration and the sharing of knowledge is valued.
The School’s strategy is to stimulate development of the core curriculum through using its outreach projects as an extended testing ground for its teaching methodologies and programme content. Another of its strategies is to use outreach projects as a means of developing curricula which promote access by ensuring that they meet the needs and requirements of different learners in terms of their location, cultural context and the stage of their development in the traditional arts
The School ensures that its curriculum is developed against external reference points through group projects and the use of alumni. Group projects are based on practice as research and are important to the enhancement of the curriculum of the core educational programmes as well as essential for enhancing the students’ experience of the traditional arts in situ. The School guarantees the academic standards of this aspect of the curriculum through ensuring that all staff involved are given an induction to the roles and responsibilities of conducting group projects and that they are encouraged to develop site- specific pieces of research.
The strategic use of outreach projects as a way of testing and enhancing the core curriculum is one of the most distinctive features of the School. Alumni are also employed as visiting practitioner tutors as a further means of implementing this strategic priority. The School seeks to provide students with external points of reference from the perspective of those who have sought to make or develop careers as traditional artists and have furthered traditional arts practice, skills and knowledge. Additionally, it is a strategic priority of the School to establish collaborative projects with other arts education providers, such as the RCA, Slade School and Birmingham Institute of Art, so as to provide further strategically appropriate external reference points for curriculum development.
Delivery of programmes
The School seeks to deliver its programmes in ways appropriate to its ethos and mission in the traditional arts. In the 25 years since its inception, the School has sought to develop, through experimentation and reflection, methods and modes of delivery which enable students to engage with the balanced curricula outlined in the previous section : traditional arts practice; knowledge of the traditional arts and its significance in different contexts; practical skills; experimentation with natural materials, pigments, colours and textures; the relationship between the traditional arts and the laws of nature and different levels of human consciousness.
The workshop and studio environment are key to the delivery of programmes in art and design, but, in delivering the kind of balanced programmes in the traditional arts outlined above and in previous sections, the School ensures that the delivery of programmes reflects the ethos of its shared learning community. Programme delivery is supported by the mutual exchange and communication which takes place within formal and non-formal situations.
The School ensures that modes of learning include formally arranged termly forums, staff and student meetings, contextual studies seminars , studio crit sessions and student led- seminars, but also less formal activities. These include visits to outside institutions and participation of students and staff in collaborative projects with partner institutions, as part of the School’s strategy to develop practiced-based learning through different contexts and locations. Deliberate steps are taken to assist every student to participate in, and engage with, this community, with the learning opportunities which it provides and with the positive ways in which it might shape their learning experience.
The development of students’ independent learning skills is promoted through self-directed and self-initiated study, which may be formalized through individually negotiated learning agreements. Such personal and professional development is typically expressed in a range of forms including reflective journals and personal development records.
A strategic priority is the development, through experimentation and evaluation, of modes of delivery based on partnerships between its staff, students and external experts and practitioners in the traditional arts. At the centre of the School’s delivery of a curricula in the traditional arts is the practitioner/mentor: student/apprentice model in which the practitioner/mentor passes on skills, knowledge and philosophical principles underlying the traditional arts. The School seeks to ensure that this model, reflecting ways in which the arts were learned in traditional societies, is based on interaction between students and mentor practitioners , allows for the development of the student’s personal as well as professional potential, and stimulates communication and the exchange of information among students.
The School seeks to ensure that curricula are delivered in ways which enable students to receive regular support with opportunities for students to measure their progress against the programme’s and their own personal objectives. These opportunities include, for the MA students, fixed termly tutorials, module reviews, and regular peripatetic studio tutorials and for Research students, they include annual monitoring reviews, regular tutorials and transfer from MPhil to PhD vivas.
In accordance with its focus on delivery as a partnership between students, tutors and practitioners, the School seeks to ensure that mechanisms for student feedback, outlined above, shape the strategy for advancing learning opportunities. The School’s strategy is to enable students to monitor their progress and further their academic development through regular, formal and non-formal opportunities to reflect on feedback and engage in dialogue with staff. Students have the opportunity to engage in a feedback loop off the back of tutorials, to clarify their progress with studio course-work and to establish that they are proceeding effectively with their theoretical studies, course records and reflective journals. Studio Crits are also an opportunity for self and peer assessment. Tutorial notes, module review forms and student reports are prepared for UWSTD and external examiners. They in turn prepare reports for consideration both by the University and the internal meetings and committees of the School. Research students receive a high level of one-to-one tuition including verbal feedback directly from their tutors. They are also given clear indications of their progress in written tutorial records and can engage in a feed-back loop to monitor the progress of both their practical and theoretical work.
Learning resources, buildings, facilities and library.
The School’s strategy is to make appropriate learning resources available to students and enable them to develop the skills to use them. These resources include: the open community outlined previously; an in-house collection of fine quality examples of traditional arts and crafts; access to specialist books (London and School libraries); the museums and galleries of London and international museums and galleries (visited during field study visits)
The School’s librarian is pro-active in mantaining relationships with relevant other libraries with collections that supplement the study and tresearch needs of the School’s students, and has pioneered the role of ’roving librarian’ to support research in the studio context. The librarian is also involved in developing webpages as an alternative to a VLE.
The School ensures that students have access to programme of inductions and information literacy workshops, an annual programme of guided visits and major and local libraries with relevant collections. Project specific sessions and one-to-one support is provided all through the year, and students receive regular e-mail updates with relevant research information, which includes resources, new learning materials in the library and external events. The Librarian ensures that collections can be searched via the online catalogue from any device with online access, including the dedicated PC in the library, the students’ PCs in the studios, and Apple and Android Apps for mobile devices.
In maintaining a balance between traditional practice and new technology, the School’s strategy is to provide and maintain physical, virtual and learning environments that are safe, accessible and reliable for every student, promoting dignity, courtesy and respect in their use. However, the School recognises that the studio context is important in promoting the shared experience of physical qualties of material, paricularly their aroma, touch and handling characteristics; a set of relationships that cannot be appreciated remotely.
The School has two desktop computers available for students to use, a printer and a scanner. The School also has Wi-Fi access. Students are able to access the internet either by the desktop computers or via laptops using Wi-Fi. The School is also developing through the office of the librarian a combination of outlets for sharing learning and teaching between staff and students, making full use of open source resources and social media which will be available from a library portal on its website, functioning as a central point to facilitate access to information and resources.
Assessment strategy and assessment procedures
The School’s strategy is to ensure that formative, summative and diagnostic assessment are regarded as positive learning tools and that feedback from assessment offers students clear
guidance with regard to future development. Assessment strategies support students’ understanding of their learning processes and are designed to foster a deep approach to learning. Strategies also promote autonomous learning and self-evaluation as vital elements within the overall learning process.
Self- and peer-evaluation constitute an important part of the formative assessment and, on occasion, of the formal summative assessment process. Assessment criteria accommodate the speculative enquiry common to most disciplines in art and design, and provide fair and accurate assessment of teamwork and individual contributions to the overall outcome of collaborative projects.
The School ensures that students receive critical but supportive feedback in a timely manner. Feedback on assessed work is an important feature of students’ learning. Art and design has a strong tradition of providing students with comprehensive oral feedback through tutorials and critiques, but written feedback has increasingly supplemented this predominantly oral tradition, reflecting the art and design community’s awareness of good practice in teaching, learning and assessment. Support systems at institutional and discipline levels identify student needs and provide relevant help and advice for both academic and pastoral matters.
The School ensures that a variety of formal and non-formal assessment methods are employed. These include tutorials crits, module-based reviews and examinations. The tutorials monitor the progress and development of the students work throughout Part One and Part Two. Crits enable peer review and self evaluation through the contrasting work of the student body. Module reviews are staged assessments of the different modules to monitor the progress towards the final examinations. The School ensures that assessment criteria for achieving the required level of technical skills, research development and systematic study are written in module descriptors in the student handbook and also incorporated into the assessment forms. Internal examinations are conducted by the School’s senior academic staff and their assessment of the standard of work is moderated and confirmed by external examination boards.
In accordance with its validating bodies, the School operates effective policies, regulations and processes which ensure that the academic standards for each award of credit or qualification are rigorously set and maintained at the appropriate level and that student performance is equitably judged against this standard. The assessment policies, regulations and processes, are explicit, transparent and accessible to all in the student handbooks and clearly articulated and consistently operated by those involved in the assessment process.
The School ensures that everyone involved in the assessment of student work is appropriately experienced to undertake their role and responsibilities. It is School policy that new staff are also inducted in assessment protocols and procedures by shadowing experienced staff and referring to UW and UWTSD handbooks. Staff involved in assessment also attend staff seminars where knowledge and interpretation of QAA precepts are cascaded by a member of staff who has attended QAA workshops on current developments affecting Quality Codes.
Feedback to students on their assessed work
A strategic priority of the School requires that assessment and feedback practices are informed by professional practice in the traditional arts, reflection, subject-specific knowledge and scholarship, and best educational practice. The tutors involved in assessment give feedback at the various stages of assessment including ‘aids to progress’ (which is received by the students at the formative stage), though to evaluations based on external references and professional standards during the summative and synoptic stages of assessment. Students are given clear objectives at each stage, supported to clarify what they hope to achieve and given unequivocal understanding of what is required of them.
Students are expected to achieve the following learning outcomes:
- Demonstrate thorough knowledge of the practice of traditional arts and crafts, drawing on a broad range of practical and theoretical experience based on fundamental principles, concepts and patterns from various regions
- Be able to reflect traditional principles in creative ways, drawing on a repertoire of know-how, models and techniques through their own experience
- Have the ability to communicate clearly ideas and information from personal course diaries and repertoires of prior learning
- Be able to maintain accurate written records of practice as research, other research methods and techniques appropriate to the traditional arts
- Demonstrate the ability to work holistically, integrating practice and theory through a contemplative approach to creative work
- Demonstrate an appreciation of the importance of continuing professional development and the promotion of contemporary traditional arts to support the activity of these arts at risk in various regions of the world
- Be able to access relevant literature, to think and read critically and to critically appraise research into the traditional arts and demonstrate awareness of its relevance and importance today.
A distinctive feature of the strategy to integrate the different activities in the School is reflected in the practitioner/student relationship to evaluate outcomes from practice as research. This is achieved through the synthesis of various craft processes taken through different stages of analysis of the materials and methods to make the work.
In keeping with the School ethos, staff and students engage in dialogue to promote a shared understanding of the basis on which academic judgements are made. The volume, timing and nature of assessments enable students to demonstrate the extent to which they have achieved the intended learning outcomes. The School ensures that assessment is carried out
securely and there are processes for preventing, identifying, investigating and responding to unacceptable academic practice. The assessment tutors follow the procedures outlined in the UW and UWSTD Quality Handbook to identify and remedy any unfair practice.
Quality monitoring, University of Wales/UWTSD Quality monitoring
The School believes that quality monitoring and quality enhancement are inseparable. A School strategy is to be proactive in using external quality frameworks to develop and update its approach to quality monitoring and enhancement including subject benchmarks for art and design, where available, and QAA codes of practice. Staff are expected to engage in collaborative projects, conferences, seminars and networking and take other opportunities to update themselves in ways of enhancing learning. As outlined in the previous section, the School makes strategic use of Its national and international outreach programme to test the quality of the outcomes from it core educational courses.
The School maintains strategic oversight of the processes for, and outcomes of, programme monitoring and programme review, to ensure that processes are applied systematically and operated consistently. This is carried out by all members of staff throughout the different levels of the school: the Director of the school, programme directors, tutors and student representatives.
The School’s strategy is to manage academic standards and the enhancement of learning in all its educational activities through clearly defined processes, roles and responsibilities.
The quality, validity and relevance of its programmes are monitored through School committees and review boards and others established according to the regulations of its validating bodies. The MA external examiner and UWSTD Partnership Team Leader, student representatives and Senior MA staff monitor the effectiveness of the MA course through meetings of the Course Board of Studies. The School’s Research Degree Committee on which there is student representation systematically evaluates the quality and effectiveness of its research programmes in accordance with external regulatory frameworks. It is School policy to give full and serious consideration to the comments and recommendations contained in external examiners’ reports, providing external examiners with a considered and timely response to their comments and recommendations. These comments and recommendations are discussed in course meetings which include student representatives who pass on the results of the discussions and the actions decided upon to the student body.
Professional development/staff development events, Peer-observation of teaching Professional development/ staff development events
The strategy of the School is to ensure that staff are appropriately experienced, up-to-date and supported. The School encourages its staff to
- develop new areas of practice as research
- participate in exhibitions
- publish research findings with prominent publishers
- engage in dialogue and collaborative projects with outside institutions
- consider their position as practitioners in the field of traditional arts and crafts.
The School strategy of developing teaching and learning through practice and practice as research is dependent upon employing staff who are practitioners and understand ‘practice as research’. The School ensures that staff members are actively encouraged to pursue their research and professional practice and, to ensure that teaching staff are active researchers and practitioners, many of them are part time and have their own professional practices.
The School ensures that its practice and practice as research are made available to a wider audience through collaborative publishing projects such as the Thames and Hudson publication, Arts and Crafts of the Islamic Lands.
Professional development is regarded by the School as essential to the maintenance of its global position in the vanguard of the traditional arts. It seeks to ensure that
- its teaching staff are all practitioners with wide professional experience
- the School operates a staff development policy that is clear, accessible and equitable and in accordance with its strategic priorities
- staff receive support to attend developmental activities and events which cascade knowledge and expertise to their colleagues
- staff meetings are opportunities to discuss how individual members may enhance their educational methods and learn from the senior, more experienced members of staff
- staff have opportunities to develop their skills and update their professional expertise through workshops and conferences to develop their skills .
Accordingly, the School maintains clear systems by which staff may make applications for support in attending staff development seminars, conferences and events. The process includes a written application which is referred to the Director of the School and discussed at Academic Board which meets regularly enough to receive applications made throughout the year.
The School ensures that its staff and students benefit from feedback from staff participation in staff development activities. Additionally, the School makes strategic use of its wide spectrum of national and international outreach projects, community projects, crafts development, vocational training and cultural heritage projects as vehicles for staff development
Peer-observation of teaching
Peer observation of teaching is the fundamental key to the success of the School’s educational programmes. Observers provide individuals with a critique of their practice and recommendations to enhance their teaching practice. These recommendations may include formal training in specific areas, including management and finance skills where required. The process of shadowing a more experienced colleague also contributes to the development of individual skills. The School alumni typically conduct their own individual research in traditional arts practice after they have graduated as professionals themselves and return to pass on this practice, knowledge and research as teachers of the School thereby enriching the School’s knowledge base.
Student engagement is defined by the extent to which students commit themselves to their studies; participate in the School’s open studio and practice as research community outlined in the Introduction; and are able to influence the curriculum and strategic development of the School. The School ensures that the small size and ethos of the institution are utilised to promote these levels of student engagement. In accordance with QAA expectations, and its strategic ethos, the School seeks to ensure the integration, coherence and internal co- operation between the different areas of the School pertaining to student welfare.
The development of the VLE, raised in Section 3, will better enable students who are not resident in the UK to engage with the School, make use of its resources and participate more fully in its community.
The School’s strategy is to maintain a healthy environment, whether physically or virtually, in which students and staff to engage in discussions and activities leading to a better educational experience. This is sustained by: student-staff seminars; group ‘crits’; student- initiated cultural events for both students and staff. The research and studio environment is reviewed constantly including the lay-out of the studio space to provide the best working environment as well as possibilities for informal staff-student engagement and discussion. There is an Alumni ‘Artist-in-Residence’ occupying a studio space which allows for valuable student interaction with an artist/craftsman practising as a professional.
Staff-student committee, students as members of committees/feeding back responses and actions arising from student comments.
Through its tutorial system, staff/student forums, meetings and committees the School establishes and evaluates roles and responsibilities for enabling student development and achievement, both internally and in cooperation with other organisations. Policies, practices and systems are in place to facilitate transitions (e.g. MPhil to PhD) and academic progression, and students are informed of such opportunities before and during their period of study.
The School’s strategic priority is to enable students to contribute effectively to programme monitoring and review processes and appropriate arrangements are put in place to support and develop them in this respect. The School makes opportunities available for students to raise matters of concern without risk of disadvantage. In accordance with UWTSD regulations students are referred to UWTSD’s accessible appeals and complaints procedures its website. It provides clear advice and guidance for students. The School in liasion with UWTSD ensures that appropriate action arising from a student appeal or complaint is taken in a timely manner. This opportunity is mainly focused on the period after exams.
The student forum is an opportunity to engage students from all levels of the School’s educational programmes to discuss the development of the courses, learning environment, facilities and student welfare.
The School provides training and support to equip student representatives to effectively fulfil their roles in educational enhancement. The School provides role descriptors for the induction of new MA and Research student representatives. The second year MA student representative will give the first year, incoming student representative guidance and advice on their role during the induction week in the Autumn term.
The main role of the student representatives is to gather views from their peers regarding various aspects of their course and to communicate those to members of staff. This can be positive feedback on aspects which work well (and thus might be shared as good practice) as well as concerns about issues which negatively affect the student experience. Student representatives will also be invited to comment on, and provide input to, proposed changes to procedures or structures, in reaction to external examiners reports, or in relation to the teaching and research degree programme at meetings of the Course Boards of Study and the Research Degree Committee, for example. They also report back to the larger student body the main points of discussions that took place at staff-student meetings and they share information about actions resulting from the discussions. The overall aim is to improve the learning experience for current as well as for future students.
Student welfare/pastoral care
A strategic priority is to help widen access to students through the provision of a number of student bursaries and the establishment of a hardship fund.
If students are having difficulties they are encourage to speak to a member of staff they feel most comfortable with. Student welfare issues are also dealt with in the Student Forum and the Course Board of Studies.
There is also a policy to allow students to defer their studies and return to learning after a set period of time as negotiated with the Director of the School.
An important aspect of the School’s strategy is to promote student employability through
- professional practice lectures by experts in the field
- alumni talks
- outreach induction seminars
- sponsored contacts i.e. START at the Saatchi gallery
- museum curator visits
- open Programme & Outreach Programme employment
- patronage commissions.
The School ensures that its outreach activities and Open programme provide wider training and self-development opportunities for students completing academic programmes through, for example, voluntary participation in an outreach project or developing and leading a course for the Open programme. Given that the traditional arts is a new discipline, as raised in the Introduction, its alumni frequently return to the School to give presentations on their work as traditional artists; to offer mentor/practitioner-led workshops in particular skills; and to support practice in the School more generally. In doing so, they provide students at the School with models of successful career and professional development in the traditional arts.