Dulwich College International Art Teacher’s Conference


On Friday 3 and Saturday 4 June Dulwich International High School Suzhou hosted the 3rd Dulwich College International Art Teacher’s Conference. Heads of Department and art teachers from the DCI schools in Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul, Zhuhai and Singapore were represented at the conference.

The art teachers at the Dulwich College International schools have a wealth of experience to offer the students they teach. In Asia there are few opportunities for professional learning relating to art and this annual conference creates opportunities within the Dulwich network. The conference gave staff the chance to share academic understanding and teaching styles. They worked together to moderate students work to share best practice and their understanding of exam board requirements. Staff facilitated workshops to share and learn new skills. The conference also served to forge and cement links within the Dulwich College International community to further enhance the learning experience for all students across the network.

On the first day of the conference participating staff discussed use of technology in art. Laura NiFhlaibhin from Dulwich College Seoul shared ideas on the use of ipads her team had trialled with Year 5 students. Staff from the other Colleges shared their experiences with technology-based activities; from mac based programmes, to the use of Adobe Photoshop, to interactive websites and video demonstrations to support student learning.

The teachers then became students and were given a lesson in the history and method of traditional Chinese paper cutting by master paper cutter. The art teachers were not only pleased with their creations but also came away from the workshop with ideas for activities with a variety of year groups.

That afternoon, staff discussed exam moderation for lower years, middle years, A-level and IB. Participating staff volunteered their thoughts, shared areas of concern and difficulty which gave rise to sharing of best practice and a better understanding of the requirements of the exam boards. At the end of a busy day, participants enjoyed dinner, a visit to Shantang Street and a boat trip to experience the historic sites of Suzhou – an inspiration for any artist.

The second day of the conference saw more creativity. In another excellent workshop, Joseph Stewart from Dulwich College Beijing gave a demonstration of etching on perspex. These practical sessions produced some wonderful pieces of work and gave the teachers the opportunity to discuss schemes to integrate the technique into the curriculum. Staff also shared experiences of training courses they had been on and new ideas they had tried as a result.

Shelley Swain from Dulwich College Shanghai gave a presentation on ‘Flipped Classroom’ learning in art. The way in which she uses videos, research, Pinterest and her own website to give students ownership of their own learning inspired other members of staff. This practice not only enables gifted and talented students to thrive but also reinforces activities in a way that helps less able students to demonstrate progression.

The final practical session of the conference was led by Karen Teal, from Dulwich International High School Suzhou, on Feltmaking – a technique that has hundreds of years of history behind it. Staff found this activity to be an easy, fun and creative way for all students to see immediate results and one that gives the opportunity for more experienced and talented art students to create higher quality pieces of felt.

The Dulwich College International Art Teacher’s Conference was a productive, informative and creative two days. Participating staff took away ideas to inspire students and further improve the teaching and learning in their respective schools. Thank you to all the teachers who attended the conference and to Edward Zhang, the Dulwich International High School Art Technician, and Charlotte Parker, Photography and Visual Performing Arts Intern, for their support behind the scenes at this event.