SERP: 1989-1992


SERP: 1989-1992


Adaption to Change: A New Approach to Understanding in Education


This Collection shows the archive of O+I's original project to find a New Approach to Understanding in Education. You can browse all the archives to discover the process of the project and the data collected by SERP for their feasibility study.
History of the Southwark Educational Research Project (SERP)

O+I initiated the Southwark Educational Research Project, SERP, in negotiation with the Inner London Education Authority [ILEA] and London Borough of Southwark during the latter months of 1989. The project coincided with a seminal change in education as responsibility for education was being being passed from ILEA to the new LEAs [Local Education Authorities] and as the new National Curriculum was introduced. The project was approved  at a first meeting of the new education inspectors of the Inner London Boroughs in County Hall on 15 March 1990. 

Piloted in Southwark as a typical microcosm of contemporary British society, O+I was asked to address 'Change' during the educational restructuring from the perspective and function of the role of contemporary art in education, its relevance to motivation and learning. 

The objectives of SERP are outlined in their proposal document [see item: SERPA2_4] were compatible with the educational aims of the London Borough of Southwark which identfied a need for 'Education for All'. 

The O+I artists team consisted of Rita Keegan, John Latham, Carlyle Reedy and Barbara Steveni. They spent 18 months working in co-operation with the Inspectorate, Southwark Education Department, ILEA, Heads, teachers and pupils in a cross-section of Southwark's schools.

SERP's work resulted in a feasibility study, containing data for future application of their work - both in Southwark and for educations' relationship with the arts generally. The project was presented as an installation on 13 November 1991 at Southwark Town Hall.

SERP introduced, what they termed, a new function arising from a recognition of a fundamental change in 20th century thought. This affected language and art as media and consequently on change in education. O+I initiated the approach 'Recycle and Discuss' )a process of making and questioning) as a prototype adaptable to educational administrative policy, across most age groups and subjects in the classroom. The procedure made individual images followed by specialised questioning to develop understanding and meaning of life. This approach focissed on the act and value of creation rather than the product.

SERP's data includes video interviews with ILEA's leader, Neil Fletcher and other ILEA Officers in the last day of County Hall, photographs, records of meetings, correspondence with Southwark Education Officers and politicians, Heads and teachers of the schools involved and related papers - a selection of which have been digitised for SERP REACTIVATION. They exist as a resource for future development.

O+I only received a third of the budget they were promised at the start of the project and funding mainly came from ILEA. Southwark Council provided a base at Collingwood Centre.

Funding was not found to continue the project at that time, SERP wrote 'Practicalities of interacting with two authorities, one in dissolution, the other defining new perameters, appointing staff, setting budgets in the context of poll tax capping and other crash programmes, have affected the project in three main areas: funding, timing and access to media resources.'

The reactivation of SERP'S potential through the archive provides a rich source for developing the issues piloted by SERP around creativity and art within education, in a similar context of widespread change.




O+I Archive, Barbara Steveni



Items in the SERP: 1989-1992 Collection

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