Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s new Teacher Development Fund

08 February 2018

Embedding learning through the arts in the primary curriculum

A Blog from Catherine Sutton, Senior Grants Manager, Education and Learning through the Arts, at Paul Hamlyn Foundation about their new Teacher Development Fund.

Paul Hamlyn was an entrepreneurial publisher and philanthropist with a belief in social justice, committed to offering new opportunities for people experiencing disadvantage, challenging prejudice and opening up the arts and education to everyone.

Paul Hamlyn Foundation (PHF) currently supports work in six key areas, one of which is Education and Learning through the Arts. With a focus on supporting learners experiencing disadvantage, we are funding a wide range of projects which explore how arts-based pedagogies can deliver excellent teaching and learning across the curriculum, achieving positive outcomes for pupils’ engagement, attainment, personal and social skills.

Pilot programme

In 2015, we began a pilot programme looking at how PHF might directly support the development of primary school teachers, building their skills, confidence and experience so that they were able to embed arts-based approaches into their everyday practice. Not only did we want to develop individual teachers, we aimed to support whole schools to embed arts-based learning across the curriculum.

Partnering with the Centre for the Use of Research and Evidence in Education (CUREE) we initially spent time reviewing current thinking about what constitutes high quality and effective Continuing Professional Development and Learning (CPDL) for teachers.

The Teacher Development Trust’s Developing Great Teaching, 2015  and the Department for Education’s Standard for Teachers’ Professional Development point out some key features of successful CPD including duration, depth, involvement of specialists and, crucially, the importance of teachers reflecting on the impact of new practices on their pupils. With these principles in mind PHF funded seven pilot projects across the UK.

Over the last two years these organisations, ranging from Into Film, to Creative Scotland and the RSC have been exploring different models for teacher CPDL. It’s been a fascinating process, involving challenges and a lot of reflection with our grantees: How can arts/cultural organisations best deliver teacher CPDL? Do we perhaps know rather more about how to work with pupils than we do about how to work with teachers? What skills do artist practitioners need to support teachers effectively? Do we have the right understanding of the education landscape and the right language to be able to support primary schools around curriculum development?

From these pilots PHF’s new Teacher Development Fund has emerged. Each year we expect to give grants of up to £ 150,000 to approximately five projects which will run for two academic years. We are looking to support strong partnerships of arts/cultural organisations and up to ten schools; either an arts/cultural organisation or a school can be the lead applicant.

Key principles

Through our pilot projects we’ve identified four key principles for the new fund:

  • CPD or CPDL?
    We want to support projects whose CPDL approaches are consistent with the evidence about what makes a difference for pupils, as well as educators. We define CPD (continuing professional development) as the specific support offered to teachers, for example a training day, and CPDL as the processes and activities that they undertake as they participate in and respond to CPD, use new knowledge and skills in their teaching, and understand the impact this may have on their pupils.

  • School leaders as lead learners
    Evidence from our pilot projects tells us that the greatest impact has been achieved when school leaders are positioned as lead learners and closely involved in planning, delivery and reflection activities.  By school leaders, we don’t just mean head teachers, but also others influencing curriculum planning such as subject leads or phase leads.
  • Role of Artist Practitioners
    A TDF project is a joint inquiry at the heart of which is the relationship between schools and artist practitioners. The role of artist practitioners is to facilitate CPDL for teachers and school leaders, supporting them to become autonomous in their delivery of arts-based learning and to achieve a sustainable approach to embedding learning through the arts in the curriculum.
  • Reflect, reflect, reflect
    Strong reflective practice should be embedded in the CPDL process. Our pilot projects have shown that it is crucial to have a clear process for reflecting on the effectiveness of the CPD input, how the work is impacting on teachers’ practice and the outcomes for pupils’ learning.

More information

For more information about PHF’s Teacher Development Fund, visit where you’ll find a wealth of films, blogs and other information illustrating the purpose and priorities about the fund and explaining what we’ve learned during our pilot projects.

The next deadline for applications is 23rd March, for projects starting in Autumn 2018.


Photo credit: School leader observes film and literacy work in the classroom


4 Replies to "Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s new Teacher Development Fund"

  1. This is a fabulous collaborative learning opportunity for both artists and teachers. Examples of schools where arts- based learning across the curriculum is energetically alive and making a difference to children are urgently needed in our currently constrained assessment-driven country. Paul Hamlyn Foundation offer real support on the journey too, so this represents a rare chance to craft CPDL together – why would school – arts partnerships not want to form, explore possibilities and apply?

  2. Arts interventions in school, when successful ,have the power to transform the teachers’ classroom practice in ways that develop pupils’ motivation, their willingness to take risks and to exhibit a preference for solving problems themselves-in essence to develop as independent learners. In the past artist-teacher collaborations have tended to teach new skills and find ways of incorporating arts practice into other areas of the curriculum. The TDF initiative takes such collaboration a step further.

  3. The Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s Teacher Development Fund is an amazing opportunity to explore arts based learning over a two year period in collaboration with schools. Feedback from Teachers and Senior Leaders in year one evidenced that the project was a great investment for schools, and one that they were keen to develop.

    The great support from PHF staff throughout the two years helped develop the project to become the fantastic experience that it was, and built in areas of focus ensured that it was a learning opportunity for children and young people, teachers, senior leaders, artists, and indeed the partnership organisations.

  4. In Wales we are now working towards a radical redesign of the approach to teaching and learning in Welsh schools. The boundaries between subject areas will become more blurred and a new importance will be placed on ‘learning through experience.’ The TDF will allow organisations to make an important contribution to this process and support teachers to meet some of the six Areas of Learning and Experience. The TDF pilot project here in Wales has seen teachers grow in confidence in teaching an international language in which they have little or no experience, through the medium of music. Our preliminary evidence suggests that both teachers and students have become more confident and interested in language learning by using this musical approach. They not only remembered and understood words and phrases in the three languages better, but were more willing to use and correctly pronounce them, were able to cross-refer between languages – and they seemed to be having fun doing it too.

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