Published: 16 November 2021 
Pupils and artist practioners stand in pairs with their arms raised to the ceiling and leaning on each other's joined hands. They are all standing in a loft rehearsal space with concrete floors and white walls with arched windows.
Pupils take part in the Teach-Make programme. Photo credit: courtesy of Imagineerium

Colleagues from the Teach-Make partnership discuss their programme working with teachers from across seven schools in Coventry using arts-based approaches within the context of real world problems to support outcomes in English, Science and Mathematics.

Launching a professional development project focused on developing teachers’ collaborative use of arts practices might seem a particular challenge during the isolation of the recent pandemic. It has been a challenge for sure, but one which has brought out the best in creativity and adaptability of the artists and teachers involved. The use of meter long canes and outstretched arms during a physical theatre session at our first Teach-Make project session, for example, enabled teachers to see how forces can be sensed through the body at two meters distance.

Blue, green and yellow circular graphic labelled 'Art-making community of practice'. It is divided evenly into 3 parts labelled practice, domain and community.
Photo credit: courtesy of Imagineerium

The Teach-Make programme is a partnership of four arts organisations led by Imagineer Productions and Highly Sprung Performance, seven Coventry Primary schools and two universities. Teachers in these seven schools were inspired by The Imagineerium, a five-year project from 2014–19 to design Schemes of Work using the same principles and practices with their Key Stage 2 pupils.

The art-making model for education (TAME), which underpins the Teach-Make approach, has been developed by Jo Trowsdale and draws especially on her research of The Imagineerium. The model synthesises a range of positive pedagogical principles in a unique approach to education centred on art-making in real world communities of practice’. Here art-making refers to any forms of making in any material in any arts practice. TAME projects encourage pupils to complete a real-world task, the commission, which requires active, collaborative practice. The framing of the community of practice and commission guides the learning and the knowledge and skills required.

Creating a community of practice can lead to changes in children’s behaviour as they rise to the expectations of the role allocated to them.”


Each of the seven schools in the Teach-Make programme are developing, trialling and evaluating a TAME project over two years. Commissions they have set for their pupils include developing energy sustainability for their school, how clean water can be provided across the world, and designing ecologically friendly shelters. The schemes of work meet the curriculum requirements of a range of subject areas – from Art, Design Technology and Science – as well as supporting work in English and Mathematics. The TAME approach also plays to the strengths of individual children, allowing them to use a range of different approaches – sketching, gesturing, collaborative discussion – to think through and solve the problems they encounter.

Teachers are developing their schemes of work supported by each other and by the artists involved. They trial elements together and with the pupils in their class, evaluating the impact on pupils’ education, their own approach to teaching and the manageability of the approach. They meet regularly with a specific member of the school’s senior management team to discuss the scheme of work and how it fits with the broader curriculum.

As we move further into the second year of the project, our focus will shift towards project teachers delivering continuing professional development and learning within their own schools and wider networks.