Burnt Mill Academy Trust

Essex teacher leading arts education agenda

A campaign to influence whole school approaches to arts and cultural learning is being guided by a Burnt Mill Academy Trust (BMAT) director.

The Royal Opera House is running Leaders for Impact to give leadership development training, inspiration and support to education leaders who are in a position to shape curriculums.

Just 12 senior leaders have been selected from 70 applicants in Essex, London, Kent and Hertfordshire to take part in the pilot scheme. Cristin Casey, director of performing arts across BMAT’s primary and secondary schools in Harlow, Epping and Stansted, is one of them.

She said: “The programme is about developing our skills in leadership with culture at the heart of everything we do. Unlike other leadership programmes I have completed, this focuses on the arts and gives a voice to students.

“It’s about learning to be an advocate for the subject, networking and finding opportunities for the young people in our area.”

The leaders will work together on an impact plan, share inspiration through peer learning and pursue tailored programmes of individual knowledge and practice-based learning.

They will take part in group workshops and training, inspiration sessions, group leadership challenge, individual learning activity and individual mentoring and coaching.

Mrs Casey, who underwent an extensive application process to be selected, said: “This will all bring more strength to the arts across our Trust. The most exciting thing, for me, is the networking opportunity it will open to us. There are so many high quality, creative opportunities out there and I will be finding out what others are doing that works well in similar contexts and bringing that information back to share with colleagues. As a result of this programme, I have already had an invite from another participant from the programme for groups of our students to perform at a concert in Covent Garden; an opportunity which wouldn’t have been available had it not been for building these relationships with likeminded professionals.

“We will gain a richer network within the community, both nationally and internationally, which will bring opportunities for our young people and help to enrich and expand their cultural experiences.”

Mrs Casey works with Burnt Mill Academy, Cooks Spinney Primary Academy, Freshwaters Primary Academy, Little Parndon Primary Academy and Roydon Primary School in Harlow; Epping St John’s School in Epping; and Forest Hall School and Magna Carta Primary Academy in Stansted.