The Hidden Curriculum

Annual Symposium for Fine Art Educators

Friday, 22 January 2016 (All day)

Event Institution: 

National Association for Fine Art Education

Callout Link: 

Call for papers


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Event Email:

Event Address: 

London Metropolitan University
16 Goulston Street
E1 7TP
United Kingdom

Venue Google Map: 

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Event Contact Name: 

Jill Journeaux

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Art teachers and students are in a bind. They do not teach or learn art, but they also cannot talk too much about the fact that they do not teach or learn art.

James Elkins, 2001

Strange to say how little has changed. The voice of management and the equal and opposite choruses of the rational planners and the creative spirits drone on undiminished. They say you should be wary of what you desire lest you are granted that which you wish for. The elevation of modular over linear teaching programmes, the educational incorporation of theory, the breakdown of the modernist medium specificity, the critique of the (mostly male) expressive author, perhaps even a questioning of the western canon were all songs in our radical repertoire. Yet in fact that these have come to pass and now count, if not as the norm, then as significant components of a contemporary education in art and design, has been in the end less significant than the fact that the underlying structure (and of course the wider structure-beyond-the-structure) has remained intact.

Paul Wood, 2008

Right at the centre of fine art education is something nobody really wants to talk about….The neglected topic is nothing less than the definition of the subject itself.

David Sweet, 1992

These writers are asking questions about what lies at the core of fine art education. This one day event offers a forum in which to discuss the nature of the Fine Art curriculum, and to reflect upon how it has changed – or not, since it’s introduction in the 1970s.


 Symposium Schedule

9.00 Registration & coffee
9.30 -10.15  NAFAE Annual General Meeting

    1. Minutes AGM 2015 and matters arising
    2. Chairs report - Paul Haywood
    3. Secretary's report - Maggie Ayliffe
    4. Treasurers report - Linden Reilly
    5. J.V.A.P. - Chris Smith
    6. Nominations for chair
    7. Remarks
    8. A.O.B.

10.30 -10.40

Symposium Welcome and Introduction by Paul Haywood


Alec Shepley – University of Lincoln; 
Art Schools as Heterotopias.

11.00-12.15  Strand A presentations chaired by Chris Mc Hugh:

Martin Newth – Chelsea School of Art, UAL; 
Territories of Practice and The Fall of the Studio: Expanding space for risk, collaboration and agency.

Maggie Ayliffe and Christian Mieves – University of Wolverhampton;  
Dirty Practice: Painting and the Hidden Curriculum.

Joe Woodhouse - University of Sunderland; 
The Hidden Curriculum: Foundation Art and Design, pedagogies past and present.

11.00-12.15Strand B presentations chaired by Lisa Stansbie:

Deborah Jackson - Edinburgh College of Art;  
Approaching Alternative Organisation.

Katrine Hjelde - University of the Arts London; 
Paradox and Potential:  Fine art employability and enterprise perspectives.

Matthew Cornford and Susan Diab – University of Brighton; 
The Art School, the Art Student and the Post 1992 University.

 Jennifer Walden - Academic Faculty of Technology University of Portsmouth (formerly in the School of Art and Design); 
A different take on “The Hidden Curriculum” in Fine Art education. 

11.00 – 12.15 Strand C presentations chaired by Daniel Pryde-Jarman

Renée Turner - The Willem de Kooning Academy, Hogeschool Rotterdam; 
Outside of the Binary: Reconsidering the Relation Between Alternative and Accredited Art Schools

Natasha Kidd - Bath School of Art and Jo Addison  - Kingston University; 
By Instruction: No Working Title Misunderstanding, misinterpretation, failure and disappointment.  The unstable intersection between what is instructed and how it is Interpreted. 

Stuart Bennett - Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh; 
A work of art is as useless as a tool is useful. 

Susan Liggett and John McClenaghen – Glyndwr University, N. Wales; 
It wasn’t what I thought I was making”: Managing uncertainty in a speculative space


Round Table discussion led by Chris McHugh and Jill Journeaux

12.45-2.00 Lunch


Rebecca Fortnum will offer overview of Hidden Curriculum strand at PARADOX event

2.20-3.40  Strand D presentations chaired by Jane Ball:

Stephen Felmingham, - Plymouth College of Art; 
Arguing out a Space: re-visioning criticality and student conference in a professionalized sector.

Dean Hughes - Edinburgh College of Art; 
What is the role of written practice within contemporary fine art education?

Sheila Gaffney - Leeds College of Art;
Lost Cause?

Jake Jackson – Glasgow School of Art;
Self–organised – De-centralised behavior without the rewards. 

2.20-3.40 Strand E presentations chaired by Chris Smith:

Alistair Payne, Glasgow School of Art;
Who Is Hiding Now?

Catherine Maffioletti – Ravensbourne College of Design; 
So Many Ways to Practice: Research Methodologies: an unstable cartography of embodied pedagogics for embedding interdisciplinary arts/design practices.

Sean Kaye - Leeds College of Art; 
blip blip blip – An Independent Curatorial Programme as Unofficial Module.


Round-table discussion led by Jane Ball, Lisa Stansbie and Chris Smith

4.40 Closing remarks Paul Hayward.

5.00 Drinks reception at Barcelona Tapas Bar - Paul Haywood 



The Wash Houses, Goulston Street entrance, 6 Goulston Street London E1 7NT

If you arrive at Aldgate East go to the opposite end of the platform from the Whitechapel exit, and then take Exit 2, High Street (north side).
Aldgate and Aldgate East tube stations, served by the Circle, Metropolitan, District and Hammersmith & City lines. Bank, Liverpool Street, and Fenchurch Street are a short walk away (10 mins).

Google maps:,-0.0757216,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x48761cb4965d3005:0x8041ef5b3995b561


Event Map Location: 

Event Papers: 

Presentation Papers: 

Territories of Practice and The Fall of the Studio: Expanding space for risk, collaboration and agency
Martin Newth
Strand 1  :
PDF icon Martin Newth presentation [3mb]
PDF icon Territories of Practice and The Fall of the Studio [137kb]
PDF icon Martin Newth proposal [100kb]

A different take on "The Hidden Curriculum" in Fine Art education
Jenny Walden
PDF icon Jenny Walden presentation [1mb]
PDF icon Jenny Walden presentation text [150kb]
PDF icon Jenny Walden proposal [36kb]

NAFAE Hidden Curriculum: Welcome and Introduction

As a student of Fine Art I harboured ambitions to become an artist; I was a free radical with an untamed passion for creative adventure in the pursuit of fresh insights, an original cultural contribution, and the recognition of my peers. 30 years later, and it turns out that my true vocation lay in educational administration, quality assurance procedures and form filling; I’m paid as an academic so that I may be responsible for the beaurocratic detail in authorising approvals, maintaining performance measures, and checking compliance in the delivery of an educational curriculum for artists.

In all honesty:

As a researcher, I’m a fraud

As an activist, I’m self-deluded

As an artist, I’m out of practice


I don’t know anything

I don’t do anything

I don’t make anything


As such, I suffer from chronic anxiety and uncertainty; what might be otherwise termed, subjectivity or creativity.

Despite our circumstances, we still strive to teach our students to doubt, to speculate, to disrupt, to agitate and to worry. It is not part of the curriculum but we might recognise it as an essential bi-product of what the benchmarking statement refers to as independent enquiry.

How much of a conflict with (or separation from) educational orthodoxy does this represent, considering the current culture of modularised teaching frameworks, and prescribed and benchmarked learning outcomes?  

Learning Outcomes meaning educational deliverables that offer assurance that a student has complied with pre-set expectations that were designed to define degree-worthy achievements in the making or execution of art? 

Learning Outcomes meaning the replication of behaviours, described or implied, that will offer demonstrable evidence of good studentship? 

 Learning Outcomes meaning proof of assurance procedures so that we might avoid penalty from the Office of Independent Arbitration or, worse, a court fine should any disgruntled student take issue with the measurement of their attainments. 

Qualifications based Fine Art education has become a very large tail-wagging an increasingly bemused, and even confused, dog

Do we really want Art students to behave well?  

To offer clarity in the understanding of their processes;  

To describe their social and cultural relevance within the terms of a creative and cultural industries employment sector;  

To rationalise/justify the success of their authorship in relation to supposed “professional” expectations;  

To adhere to and promote standards that are neither agreed nor underpinned by any representative body acknowledged by the artist community of professionals.

Do we really want to be the individual who authors the module that successfully distils and condenses all of the conditions for achieving successful creativity so that it can be measured and approved by quality standards procedures.  

Do we want to bore our students into submission?   

We want our students to; experience, take risks, journey, adventure, make mistakes, fail, play, speculate, explore, embrace difference, exploit diversity, challenge authority, become angered, resist, prevail, confront, extend, expand and redefine what they and others might see as reality. These are the basic rights of any individual offering cultural contribution in a sophisticated democracy, and it is our role to ensure that these are the terms and expectations of Fine Art Education. It’s the one piece of instrumentalism that naturally relates to our core motives as a set of people, the promotion of an innate democratic right to creative expression.

Professor Paul Haywood
NAFAE joint chair

Closing Remarks

The first privilege of today has been in gaining first hand access to the variety and diversity of impactful and adventurous practices that maintain and promote the dynamic qualities of Fine Art pedagogy as a strategy for heuristic and rhizomatic learning. What comes across from all of the excellent papers and descriptions of practice is the forceful dedication to principles that run through our community and have stayed with our community throughout generations of change. In general terms, the Hidden Curriculum conference has offered a picture of active resistance and inspirational alternatives in the face of constraining institutional and infrastructure manoeuvres whose pragmatic purpose is often detached from sound educational values.  As might be expected, the Fine Art Education community, represented at this conference, is constantly inventing means and ways of exciting, or agitating procedures of cultural production; the process of education is one of the most compelling and essential causes of cultural production. Events such as this are of increasing importance as we construct confidence around our practice community to champion the real values of Fine Art education. 


The environment for Fine Art education is subject to constant change and, it has to be said, interference.  There is nothing new in that, it has always been something of a fairground ride in terms of policy interventions and structural repositioning.  It is our habit to challenge and to offer potential beyond those policy objectives and for this to be most effective, we need to consolidate and we need to consolidate around certain principles.   


In recent years and decades we have enlarged participation and we have extended and expanded our discipline in response to dynamic and diverse cultural priorities.  We did that; educators and students working in the studio and classroom, and we will carry on because of a fundamental human need for cultural agency.  This relates to what was said at the beginning of the day about Fine Art Education offering fundamental rights to each in society. But at the same time, we must protest the current climate affecting education, ostensibly brought about by aggressive austerity; reduced contracts for art teachers in secondary and primary schools, the strategic shift from humanities and the arts in national educational policies, the continuing disinvestment in Level 3 Art and Design provision, the obsessive plotting to destroy any vestige of funding support for students in post-compulsory education, the barbaric housing policies that render student poverty critical.  The government is consolidating and severely reducing educational access and, specifically, access to art education, so we must consolidate to offer resistance.


And we have to collaborate, at events like this (the annual NAFAE symposium) and through our relations as networked artists and friends.  As educators, we are not and cannot be in competition.  We are not motivated by the prospect of beating each other and developing a dominant reputation for one University corporate brand or another.  We are not motivated by the TEF and the professionalization of HE educators. We are not motivated by the stratification of teaching contracts, nor by the hierarchies that qualify our status as researchers, or senior fellows, or professorial experts who offer impact. Not at all! We are motivated by our passion for the subject; by the transformational potency of art and its value to the lives of individuals, by the capacity of Fine Art practice to sustain a lifelong vocation in our students, by the essential human right of each and every individual to experience culture as both producer and consumer, by the offer of genuine democracy if we can properly assure that the arts can be respected as a condition of human experience and social exchange where excellence is purely a measure of specialist endeavour rather than a privilege of class or exclusive education. 


The privatisation of Higher Education has led us down a path of free market competition where Fine Art education has variable economic worth and profitability. The commercialisation of qualifications has led some students to doubt their rights to access, others to withdraw from relevant opportunities, and others to compete where there is no competition The privatisation of the HEA and now the QAA will, inevitably, pitch us (as educators) in direct competition with one another, where as we are simply individuals working towards the same and similar goals. The Professional Standards Framework, in the midst of all of this, is wrong headed and potentially mitigates against cultures of Fine Art education via a process of standardising education. It will constrain rather than afford the practices that bring us together as a community and confirm our association.  This variety of initiatives are inspired by governments and they are designed to distract attention away from the politics of education; they effectively demonise difference and marginalise alternative perspectives. Our habit of collaboration and co-operation will help us to remain grounded. We must remain centrally concerned with lived experiences and with the rich diversity of culture and cultural production.


And we need to unite. We are not a union but we do need to support our unions and each other. Our conditions of employment are at risk. Our freedoms in the workplace are at risk. We are being told what to teach and it will limit the education we want to offer. The fact is, I do not want to take registers from Teresa May.  I have no intention of adjusting studio cultures so that we can monitor the attendance of terrorists disguised as art students.  I do not want to waste time devising operational systems to support the ‘Prevent Strategy’; ethically testing the potential interpretations of student content and embedding censorship into the preliminary stages of making and thinking.  I am not willing to act for this ideological despot. I will not marginalise individuals. I will not silence student voices. I will not limit the rights of each unique citizen in terms of their cultural references or habits of expression. And I will not condemn principles of educational freedoms to memory; because it seems we must now preserve the privileges of competitive capital and, thereby, maintain a system of orthodoxy and hegemony that does not come from us. We have unity through our dedication to our subject, to Fine Art as a activity and an attitude, and through our passion for teaching and our compassion for open democracy. We must link with other networks both inside and out of the UK and we must move beyond the constraints of nationhood.


As always, we face massive challenges, both current and future, and we need to be aware of them but not at the expense of what we do best. Our conferences this year and last have debated and examined examples and initiatives that have successfully challenged an increasingly constrained framework for education in the areas and disciplines of Fine Art. Our refreshed collaboration with the European network PARADOX will keep us focused on the tangible and salient properties of a Fine Art education that is still attempting to properly value diversity in relation to; sources of knowledge, ethical responsibilities, access to resources, and frameworks for aesthetic experience and cultural representation. That governments are attempting to limit that diversity and limit access to education by stealth and austerity is one of the key themes for our organisation going forward. It is our privilege to offer resistance and to source alternative responses and strategies to the prevailing Tory policies of political containment and exaggerated social fragmentation.

Professor Paul Haywood
NAFAE joint chair