An investigation into the contribution made by primary art coordinators to the development of the teaching of art: the evolution of identities, understanding and practice
The study is situated within a feminist paradigm to consider the identity, experience, practice and understanding of art and design coordinators (also known as subject leaders) in primary schools across the South East of England. \ud \ud A postal survey was sent to the 550 primary schools involved in partnership work with a single university and yielded a return rate of 40.7% (n = 224). The survey included elements of common practice by coordinators of all curriculum subjects as identified by Fletcher and Bell (1999) to allow comparison. These were analysed using the Chi-Square Test to establish statistical differences in the recorded responses. The emergent themes were explored through individual interviews with 32 teachers, allowing deeper probing. A number of the interviewees took part in a further interview discussion which explored their understanding and attitudes towards artworks (n = 25) by looking at images based on the work of Downing and Watson (2004). Of these, 17 coordinators allowed close scrutiny of their paper files, folders and records for analysis. Additionally, 9 advisory personnel (including inspectors, advisors, ITE tutors and an author responsible for publishing a practical developmental guide for coordinators) were interviewed to provide a wider context for the study.\ud \ud The qualitative and quantitative data collected from these opportunities revealed issues which clearly link to factors of power, gender and knowledge within patriarchal structures. These are considered in some detail in an attempt to faithfully present the individuals and the situations encountered in the study. There is a strong sense that the primary teachers leading art and design have not been adequately heard before and that earlier attempts to record their views have been subdued, edited or even deleted by those with the power to make such choices.\ud \ud The research study concludes with a series of recommendations for further developing the role, particularly for those based in schools; the art coordinators themselves and the professionals involved in ITE/CPD work demonstrating how the understanding and application of the model of empowered leadership proposed by Thurber and Zimmerman (2002) might facilitate improvement.