Stories + Views
National Gallery displays work from Downhills – the school Mr Gove says is failing
“Take One Picture” – that’s the challenge set by the National Gallery to primary schools across the country. Last year’s picture was ‘The Family of Darius before Alexander’ by Paolo Veronese. Prints of the painting were given to teachers attending a one-day Continuing Professional Development (CPD) course at the Gallery. The teachers left with a challenge:
“Use the image imaginatively in the classroom, both as a stimulus for artwork, and for work in more unexpected curriculum areas”.
Downhills Primary School rose to the challenge. Pupils responded enthusiastically and posed many questions which covered maths, science, architecture and drama as well as art. One child asked, “Are we doing Maths, Art or Science?” Integrated learning at its best.
The pupils made a living picture which involved two groups: the Sewing Squad, who designed and made the costumes, and the Construction Crew, who made the scenery and props. The cross-curricular work was supported by two artists-in-residence and culminated in a “tableau vivant” performance.
Similar projects took place nationally and work was submitted to the National Gallery which chose the best for display. Downhills was one of 17 schools which were selected for the high standard of their work. The full list of schools is here.
Downhills is under threat of enforced conversion because Secretary of State, Michael Gove, says the school is failing. He has imposed a sponsor, the Harris Federation, forcibly removed the school’s board of governors and inflicted an unwanted interim executive board in its place. Parents from Downhills are seeking a judicial review of the controversial decision which was made despite overwhelming opposition from the parents and local community. A recent consultation found that 94% of parents opposed the move.
A spokesperson from the Department for Education told the Tottenham Journal, “Harris, a not-for profit educational charity, will give the school the leadership and expertise it needs to improve.” The quality of work displayed in the National Gallery, the rising SAT results last year and the tremendous support of parents demonstrate that Harris’s “leadership and expertise” are not wanted or needed.
Details of the Save Downhills campaign are here.