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Project aiming to get clay back into Stoke-on-Trent schools

The CLAY School project is being launched in Stoke-on-Trent, bringing clay back into the classroom and creativity onto the curriculum.

The CLAY School, which is being launched by the British Ceramics Biennial at the World of Wedgwood today (11 October), has an ambition to get every school child in Stoke-on-Trent to engage with clay by 2021 – the year when the city hopes to be UK City of Culture.

It is designed to support and connect all elements of the curriculum using ceramics, showing young people how the arts relate to industry and can lead to employment opportunities that go beyond the creative industries. 

It is hoped that once the programme has spread through the Potteries, it will be rolled out across the country, to demonstrate the importance of hands-on arts and cultural education. 

Kate Malone, ceramicist and judge on BBC 2’s Great Pottery Throw Down, is one of the CLAY School Ambassadors. She said: "I went to a big secondary comprehensive school that had a superb art education department that filled a good section of the school timetable.  This is why I thrived.  It gave me confidence and a basic ability to feel able-bodied and capable for my life ahead.

"A strong art education for children is not necessarily to make a nation of potters or woodworkers, but to make individuals who are able, practical and creative in mind and body, more able to contribute to a community.  A doctor, teacher, entrepreneur, nurse or gardener who is able to be creative has to be a good one.  From creativity comes originality.  A learned set of hand skills makes a person educated in action, able to DO.  

"This is why the CLAY School is such a joy to see and is so important.  I am thrilled to see it so full of life and imagination. CLAY School emphasises and recognises the importance of a fully rounded child."

Barney Hare Duke, Artistic Director of the British Ceramics Biennial said: "It is vital for all young people to be exposed to hands-on, creative experiences from an early age.  Clay is part of Stoke-on-Trent’s DNA and the material is synonymous with the place.  It is important that students here have real opportunities to engage with clay to learn about heritage, experience the empowerment of creativity, and shape their futures."

CLAY School is part of the British Ceramics Biennial’s ongoing education work with schools in Stoke-on-Trent.  To date, BCB has worked with 15 schools in the city, introducing 995 school children to clay for the first time and training 116 teachers to use clay across the curriculum.  

Arts Connect has funded the initiative, with Johnson Tiles, World of Wedgwood and Potclays Ltd (education materials sponsor) also supporting the project.

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