Sharing Camden Practice

Camden Cultural Commissioning Model

Key Points

  • Schools and cultural organisations develop new partnerships and approaches to collaboration.
  • Creative projects better respond to key school and student ambitions.
  • Schools and cultural partners share best practice around creative education.


What were your reasons for doing this development work?

The Camden Cultural Commissioning Model supports schools and other education providers to develop innovative, creative, needs-led partnerships with cultural organisations, directly linked to school improvement priorities. The project facilitates opportunities for schools to build links with the creative sector and to develop and share best practice around integrating creative opportunities across the curriculum.
Short video of partners discussing the project

Reasons behind model:

  • The borough of Camden is home to a vibrant creative and cultural sector, and local schools are committed to offering pupils diverse creative opportunities both in and out of school.
  • We want to make it easier for schools to build meaningful partnerships with the creative sector.
  • Support schools and creative partners to develop innovative projects that can support priorities across the curriculum.

Who were the identified target learners?

Young people in Camden (up to 25 yrs)

What did you do? (What success criteria did you use?)

Summer term:

  • An all partners meeting is held at the beginning of the commissioning process to bring school and creative partners together; spark ideas; and share best practice.
  • School partners complete a short online survey to identify school needs and priorities for the upcoming academic year.
  • School priorities are shared with cultural partners, who are asked to submit project proposals and project ideas that respond to school needs.

Autumn term:

  • Schools are introduced to cultural organisations that have proposed project ideas for their school via email.

Autumn term/Spring term/Summer term and beyond:

  • Schools and cultural partners work together to co-design the project and agree on details including budget and timescales.
  • Following project delivery, the school and cultural organisation complete project evaluation.

Alongside commissioning activities, a number of learning opportunities and CPD sessions for both school and cultural partners have been developed in response to partner feedback and needs.

What specific teaching resources did you use?

  • Lead teacher attends partners meeting during the summer term.
  • Teacher completes a short online survey focused on school priorities for the upcoming academic year.
  • Teacher assesses project ideas proposed by cultural organisations.
  • Teacher works with cultural partners to explore proposed partnerships and co-design the project.
  • Teacher supports project evaluation and feedback.

Outcomes and Impact

What has been the impact on pupil learning and teaching?

Alongside commissioning activities, a number of knowledge exchange opportunities were developed in response to partner needs;

  • 4 learning walks took place in schools – Learning walks offered cultural partners and other schools in the CCCM an opportunity to visit a school and gain insight into how creative and cultural activities are delivered within the school environment. (See learning walks case study).
  • 15 staff from 6 cultural organisations took part in mentoring training for staff, to enable staff to better support young people around pathways and progression routes.
  • 65 teachers benefited from CPD opportunities including school guidance around Arts Mark; and commissioned sessions with Cultural partners.
  • Partner meetings , focus groups and networking sessions supported conversations between partners, knowledge sharing, development of ideas and refinement of programme structures.
  • 19 schools and colleges have taken part in the model including an early year’s education centre, a Special school, a PRU and an FE college.
  • 21 creative and cultural organisations from across art forms and specialisms have participated in the model including; museums, libraries, galleries, performing arts venues, theatre companies, music hub.
  • 22 new partnerships developed involving 11 school partners and 11 creative partners.  These included;
    • Schools and cultural partners co-designing projects
    • Cultural partners working together to develop new initiatives for schools
    • Projects developing across multiple partners
  • 550 young people have benefited from creative projects initiated through the model by end of spring term 2015. 17 creative projects were delivered before end of spring term 2015.


Evidence of impact on pupil learning and teaching/leadership

Most valuable aspect of being part of the CCCM…


  • ‘Meeting professionals who can offer opportunities for students to visit arts institutions and meet people working in the arts industry’
  • ‘Making partnerships with people we otherwise wouldn’t have known about’
  • ‘Meeting and talking to other schools and Arts organisations, getting ideas and seeing how other schools manage things’
  • ‘We feel that we met lots of potential future partners, who we can see ourselves working with further along the line.’
  • ‘Having an opportunity to meet new practitioners and colleagues from other schools; being able to co-develop an idea for a project to enhance what we already do; having a space to advocate for arts education.’

Culural Partners

  • ‘Feeling more connected to a network of local organisations.’
  • ‘Being able to have face to face contact with schools gaining first-hand knowledge of their requirements when working with a cultural organisation was very useful for successful programing.’
  • ‘Seeing what activities schools were interested in and how they wanted cultural organizations to offer projects which supported the curriculum’
  • ‘Networking, talking about school’s curriculum, learning more about what they actually need to support the pupils.’
  • ‘Meeting schools, getting that initial contact, telling people what we offer, finding out what schools want’
  • ‘Reaching new schools and delivering CPD that schools paid for – this is new and important for us.”

Evidence enabling us to understand the impact of the Cultural Commissioning Model and how it has added value to partnerships in the borough has been gathered through a combination of methods including surveys, focus groups, quantitative data and interviews with partners.