Students Staff

Arts Education

Working alongside our academics, Art Exchange, ESCALA and the Lakeside Theatre, our Arts Education team offer a variety of opportunities to primary schools. Our activities strengthen and deepen schools’ experiences with a wide range of tailored artistic programmes, exposing students to high-quality arts experiences and artistic facilities.

Our vibrant and varied programme offers primary school children the opportunity to explore and participate in the arts from an early age.

Schools in and around the Colchester region can contact us in order to access our programme, initiating exciting partnerships and new possibilities. Our programmes also support schools with their Artsmark journey.

For Arts Education’s latest news and updates, join the Arts Education Primary School mailing list (we’ll only get in touch when we have something really exciting to share), or find us on Twitter.

  • Creative Writing Competition 2018 – Competition Now Open

    Our Creative Writing Competition is back for a second year. Alongside children’s author James Campbell (BoyFace and The Funny Life of Pets), we’re on the lookout to find the next generation of talented authors and illustrators from across Essex.

    Open to Key Stage 1 and 2, we hope to inspire children from across Essex to delve deep into their imaginations and share stories of far off places and wildly wonderful creatures.

    The theme of this year’s competition is...

    ‘Out of this world’ - You’re welcome to interpret this in any way you wish. We are looking forward to being surprised!

    Word Count Guidelines

    • Reception and Key Stage 1 – up to 300 words
    • Year 3 & 4 – up to 500 words
    • Year 5 & 6 – up to 1000 words

    How to enter

    Entries can be handwritten or typed. Where needed, adults can support by scribing on behalf of a child. Please ensure each story has an entry form attached. This is really important as we’ll need to know the author behind each story and how we can get in touch with them.

    By Email

    Handwritten stories and accompanying illustrations can be scanned in and emailed to us at: with the subject title: [Author’s Name] Creative Writing Competition Entry

    By post

    Arts Education Team (CER)
    University of Essex
    Wivenhoe Park
    CO4 3SQ

    The deadline for entries is Sunday 11 November 2018.

    Award Categories

    Gold and Silver awards will be presented at each age category:

    • Reception and Key Stage 1
    • Year 3 & 4
    • Year 5 & 6

    Other awards include

    • The Most Creative Character
    • The Most Original Illustration
    • The Most Imaginative Setting
    • The Most Captivating Plot

    Judging process

    The entries will be shortlisted by a team of students at the University of Essex. Shortlisted entries will then be reviewed by our panel of judges.

    Celebration evening

    All the authors and illustrators who take part in the competition are invited to attend a special celebration evening at the University of Essex, Tuesday 4 December 2018.

    Further information will be shared via email, this webpage and our Twitter closer to the date.


    Everyone who takes part will receive a certificate. Winners will receive a certificate, £10 book voucher and a signed copy of James Campbell’s latest book.


    Clare Ruffle, Arts Education Officer
    Telephone: 01206 873883

  • Creative Writing CPD for Primary School Teachers – 10 October 2018

    Alongside the announcement of our Creative Writing Competition, we are delighted to invite primary school teachers to our free Creative Writing CPD.

    You’ll be working alongside experienced practitioners, including children’s author James Campbell, to explore how the arts can be used to inspire creative writing among children.

    Equipped with lots of new ideas to try in the classroom, your students will be writing imaginative and developed stories like never before (perfect for our creative writing competition).

    “It was a super day, I learnt so much and am full of ideas and enthusiasm to take back and share at school. Thank you!”
    CPD attendee


    Book your place here


    Clare Ruffle, Arts Education Officer
    Telephone: 01206 873883

  • Schools' Creative Writing Inspiration Day - 9 October 2018

    Linked to the Creative Writing Competition, we will be welcoming schools to the University campus to take part in a range of hands-on workshops to bring storytelling to life through the arts.

    During the day, James Campbell will share his secrets of writing exciting stories with characters who stay with us even after we close the book. Children will develop their imagination and ideas, as well as exercising their creative thinking.

    Workshops include creative writing, poetry, illustration and storytelling through drama.

    "The diversity of the activities has been very inspiring and has allowed all children to access the activity which most interested them, so all of the activities have been valuable."


    Clare Ruffle, Arts Education Officer
    Telephone: 01206 873883

  • Gallery visit

    It’s never too early to introduce children to a gallery environment and allow them to form ideas and opinions of professional artwork.

    This October, we will be welcoming groups of KS1 children to the University campus to take part in a hands-on workshop linked to Caroline Walker’s exhibition ‘Home’, hosted in our very own gallery, Art Exchange.

    Once the children have had the chance to explore the gallery and the themes that surround the exhibition, they’ll work with an experienced arts practitioner and use a broad range of materials to produce a creative response.

    Caroline Walker’s series of paintings, titled ‘Home’, presents a less familiar portrayal of the refugee crisis. The exhibition will allow learners to explore challenging worldwide issues in a creative environment at an appropriate level.

    The exhibition runs from 26 September to 3 November 2018.

    Dates available

    • 16 October
    • 17 October
    • 18 November
    • Other dates may available upon request.


    Kate Beckwith, Arts Education Manager
    Telephone: 01206 873889

  • Discover in a Day

    'Discover in a Day' will guide students through an exciting day full of hands-on workshops, captivating games, and opportunities to create their own pieces of art. Throughout the day the students complete their own log book, where they draw or write about their experiences and what they might like to do in the future. Each child receives an Arts Award Discover certificate, (entry level award in the arts) that sets them off on their journey through Arts Award.

    Dates available

    • 3 April 2019
    • 25 June 2019
    • 27 June 2019
    "What a fantastic day. The children loved all the workshops and have been inspired (so have the staff!) Very well organised"


    Clare Ruffle, Arts Education Officer
    Telephone: 01206 873883

  • Primary School Teacher CPD - Tuesday 2 July 2019

    Our annual teacher CPD brings together an array of experienced arts practitioners to guide teachers through a day of fun, helpful and practical arts activities that they can take straight back into class.

    Tuesday 2 July 2019 at the University of Essex – Colchester Campus

    We are delighted to invite your school to our free annual arts CPD at the University of Essex. We have an array of experienced arts practitioners who will guide teachers and support staff through a day of fun, helpful and practical arts activities that they can take straight back into class. The day will run from 9.00am – 15.30 at our Colchester Campus.

    This year we will look at non-traditional arts, such as animation and coding. Our hands-on workshops will explore the exciting possibilities of digital arts, while giving you fresh and inspiring ideas which you can easily implement in your lessons plan.

    The CPD is free to attend although booking is essential. Details of how to book will be shared closer to the date via this web page, our mailing list and twitter-feed.

    "What a fabulous programme. Loads of useful and inspirational ideas! Fabulous networking opportunities. On a personal level - SOUL FOOD!"


    Clare Ruffle, Arts Education Officer
    Telephone: 01206 873883

Contact us

To find out more about our programme and ways we can support your school’s Artsmark Journey, please contact the Arts Education Team at