About the Conference

What is the state of arts and cultural education in primary schools in EU member states? What needs to be done to enhance and safeguard the quality? These questions are central at the Quality Now! conference. They will be approached from two angles: the design and implementation of the school curriculum (continuous learning lines) on the one hand and the expertise of class teachers and subject teachers on the other.

Quality of cultural education: what, who, how?

On the basis of which convictions do EU member states currently determine the content of cultural education in primary schools and how are these convictions translated into the curricula? Which objectives and outcomes are being pursued? Do arts and cultural subjects overarch other curriculum areas? How can teachers be trained or retrained to teach within this domain? These questions will fuel the debate from the basic principle that arts and cultural subjects belong in primary education. Not just because pupils learn many lessons for the rest of their lives but also because they gain knowledge that they may not otherwise be able to access.

'Do not justify arts education because of its transfer effects on learning outcomes in other subjects , but because of the intrinsic importance of the arts and the related skills that they develop'. This is the advice that the authors of the extensive reviewArt for Art’s sake? The Impact of Arts Education (OECD; Winner, Goldstein, Vincent-Lancrin 2013) give to policymakers. First of all, arts education enables pupils to develop artistic skills and gain knowledge of the arts. In addition, good arts education can make a specific and unique contribution to the development of the imagination, the powers of observation and expression, inquisitiveness and social skills. It does, however, require that these competencies be explicitly incorporated in the school curriculum for arts and culture. The core elements in the curriculum – the learning goals and content, the roles of the teacher, the learning activities, sources and materials, time and testing – must be combined with high-quality education through an underpinned vision of learning with, in and through culture and the arts. This learning may consist of experiencing and assimilating art, actively participating in art, and reflecting on theory and artistic practices.

In addition to a cohesive curriculum, competent and motivated teachers are the key to improving the quality of cultural education. Teachers must have sufficient concrete knowledge of the subject and confidence in their own self-efficacy. They must be able to vary their didactic approach (reception, production and reflection) and to assess whether the pupils are developing culturally. They must also, as 'lifelong learners', keep up to date with professional developments in education and culture.