Authors have reacted angrily to news of a proposed qualification for Creative Practitioners Working with Children and Young People which would mean them having to study health and safety and child welfare, as well as "planning, delivering and evaluating creative learning activities".
It is unclear whether the qualification would become a definite requirement for writers keen to take part in events in schools.
According to the National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE), the new qualification, set for January 2013, actually "goes against all models of good practice established". Authors appearing in schools are being employed as "artists, not as child development workers", it stated. NAWE also expressed concern about the implicit need for a "licence to practice".
The draft proposal is based on research funded by Arts Council England and carried out in 2010 by Creative & Cultural Skills, part of the National Skills Academy. This was followed by further research from an "industry-led steering group," as well as a working group made up of employers and practitioners from across the creative and cultural industries. Neither the Society of Authors nor NAWE were consulted.
Author and illustrator John Dougherty said he responded to the proposal with "horror and resigned weariness". He said: "The past few governments have been complicit in forcing through a single, mechanistic philosophy of education. To bring this approach into the creative arts, and to teach arts practitioners that this is the 'correct' way to teach, is likely to impoverish rather than enrich what is currently being offered to schools."
Helena Pielichaty, author of several books including Never Ever, said: "Where my heart sinks is in proposals such as: 'The learner can . . . prepare lesson plans to meet creative objectives.' This is surely turning artists into classroom teachers . . . What qualifications do they have to tell someone like Michael Morpurgo whether his resources are 'appropriate to the creative learning activity?'" She also queried how less successful authors would fund the course.
Authors have until tomorrow (8th June) to respond to a consultation on the proposal.