Firing Up

Pupils work from Liskeard School, Firing Up Year 1. Photo: Jenny Beaven

Pupils work from Liskeard School, Firing Up Year 1. Photo: Jenny Beaven

Interest in ceramics education is dwindling. In 2010 the Crafts Council developed a national clay programme that would ‘refire’ dormant school kilns and inspire both teachers and students.

The core aims of the Firing Up programme were;

• To raise awareness of the importance of clay in our everyday lives and in world cultures;
• To support schools in using this medium creatively and confidently, and in optimising its educational value for students and creating sustainable local links;
• To showcase and exhibit the work of young people; and
• To demonstrate the links between clay-work and the wider creative industry sector showing that working in ceramics is a viable career choice.

The programme used a ‘cluster’ format constructed around the ceramics departments within partner Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). Each regional cluster consisted of one HEI who supplied a ceramics ‘ambassador’, a technician and up to ten students, and five secondary schools.

Firing Up included the following core elements:

• Kiln Rehab – the rejuvenation of clay facilities in participant schools, supported by the expertise of ceramic-specialist staff from partner HEIs.
• Clay Skills Training – twilight Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for cluster teachers to build confidence and expertise using clay in the classroom.
• Project Clay – an innovative creative workshop programme designed by Clayground Collective and delivered by local practitioners to enthuse and inspire the school community through a collaborative project.

Firing Up was made possible by generous support from Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Paul Hamlyn Foundation over three years and commitment from a steering committee that included representatives from National Arts Learning Network (NALN), the National Society for Education in Art and Design (NSEAD), University of the Arts, Clayground Collective and Ofsted.

Firing Up Clusters 2010 – 2013

Regional clusters were selected and composed according to our project criteria:

• Geography – underpinning an effort to ensure a good national spread;
• Presence – of a positive ambassador in each H.E. institution to drive the success of each cluster and provide expertise;
• Facilities/ Resources – including the presence of a kiln, departmental capacity for hosting teaching peers, and the economic situation of the school and its community (i.e. identification of ‘need’).

Year 1: 2010-11

• Greater London
• South West: Plymouth
• North West: Liverpool

Year 2: 2011-12

• West Midlands & Staffordshire; Stoke-on-Trent
• South West; Bath
• North West: Manchester
• North East: Sunderland

Year 3: 2012-13

• North West: Preston
• East Midlands: Leicester
• East: Colchester
• South East: Brighton

  • Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

    The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation is one of the leading independent grant-making foundations in the UK, and aims to improve the quality of life throughout the UK.
    We do this by funding the charitable activities of organisations that have the ideas and ability to achieve change for the better. We take pride in supporting work that might otherwise be considered difficult to fund.

    Find out more
  • Paul Hamlyn Foundation

    The Paul Hamlyn Foundation is one of the larger independent grant-making foundations in the UK. We make grants to organisations which aim to maximise opportunities for individuals to experience a full quality of life, both now and in the future. In particular we are concerned with children and young people, and others who are disadvantaged.

    Find out more
  • Technology Supplies Ltd and Potclays ltd

    We would also like to extend our gratitude to the official suppliers of Firing Up; Technology Supplies Ltd, Potclays ltd. and Pottery Crafts Ltd., whom we are pleased to recommend as suppliers of high quality ceramic resources to educational institutions.

  • Crafts Magazine & Ceramic Review Magazine

    Thanks should also go to Crafts Magazine and Ceramic Review for their generous subscription offers.

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You can follow us on Twitter – @firing_up

National Arts Learning Network
National Society for Education in Art & Design
University of the Arts, London
Clayground Collective

See also

  • Craft Action Network

    Find out about our plans to develop a professional network for craft and education professionals.

    Join the network