We love a good framework: creative practice with care experienced children and young people

Through the grant we received from County Durham Community Foundation (CDCF) Comic Relief Core Fund, we have identified some key areas of focus for our organisation - one of which is training for artists and arts managers.

Since I first head about the Learning Framework for Artists Pedagogues (LFAP), I have been a little (a lot) obsessed with it. My initial meeting came through two wonderful people (and originators of the training), Helen Chambers (Consultant) and Pat Petrie (Professor Emeritus at the Centre for Understanding Social Pedagogy).

I met Helen and Pat when I worked for Sing Up, a national programme funded by Government, intended to help every primary aged child to sing, every day. Sing Up brilliantly focused some of their funding on developing a national programme in partnership with the National Children’s Bureau (NCB), specifically designed to bring arts organisations and local authorities together to develop projects for looked after children and young people.

Helen and I worked together to manage this programme and supported 15 partnership projects across the country, resulting in the evaluation report I want to Sing (Petrie and Knight).

Key to the programme was training for artists, in the form of the LFAP. LFAP originated in 2009 when NCB and CCE (Creativity, Culture and Education), funded by Arts Council England, brought together three arts organisations to better understand what skills and qualities artists needed when working with care experienced children. In addition, and significantly, it identified reflection tools that artists could use to support them in their work.

Pat and Helen introduced concepts of social pedagogy to the artists, and provided space for reflection and conversation. The learning generated from this process led to the development of the LFAP, which details principles and values, workforce knowledge and skills, quality indicators and methods for training and networking for artists and creative practitioners.  

Why is the LFAP important?

Having worked with artists (specifically with the fantastic Loud and Clear team at Sage Gateshead - who have prioritized work with care experienced children and their families for years) for some time, many of whom work directly with care experienced children and young people, (and their key adults) they have told me that the LFAP is vital. Many / most of them recognise the ethos, values and pedagogy of the framework; much of it isn’t new to them. What is new is the fact the the framework exists and is recognised as a tool to better inform artists about the team around the child, the context within which care experienced children and young people ‘live’. In addition, it recognises reflection space for artists as a fundamental component of this work. It prioritises it. And seeks to support artists with learning opportunities, space for questions, space for worries and time for processing what they see, hear and do within sessions with care experienced children and young people. It does not assume that artists can leave the work at the door, and places great emphasis on an understanding of the self, in order to deliver safe work.

For many years now Blue Cabin has been seeking ways in which to develop the LFAP into a training model for artists and arts managers. We have done lots of talking with, lots of listening to. We have tested out, through our Head, Heart, Hands project in Darlington and now within the More Stuff Like This Please programme in Stockton. Artists have told us that:

‘The training was excellent, and very informative. It has added to my understanding of work with care experienced children, and will influence my work in the future.’

‘The training was insightful and reflective. It has given me lots to think about, and tools to reflect on myself more as a practitioner.’

And now we are working in partnership with the brilliant Treehouse Associates, who share similar values and ethos and are highly experienced and practised pedagogues. We see our partnership as an exciting one, one which may result in some important training and lots of learning and lessons along the way. We have regular virtual cups of tea with Pat and Helen; they are our anchors and provide ongoing insight, questions, reflections, challenges and lots of heart.

Funding from CDCF has gifted me with more time to have these vital conversations, and to reflect on the procesess we are undertaking to reach a long held goal for this work. With Treehouse Associates we plan to:

  • Spend more time testing out the LFAP training model to artists and arts managers. Asking for feedback, refining content, and retesting

  • Hosting a conference in 2018 to talk about creative practice with care experienced children and young people, with a focus on training for artists and arts managers

  • Supporting artists who have been participants of the training, to be champions and ambassadors of it

  • Constantly connect with practice - we only learn from doing and reflecting

The gift of funded time from CDCF Comic Relief Fund, will enable this to happen (thank you!).

If you are interested in having a cup of tea about anything of interest within this blog, email jenny@wearebluecabin.com