The Arts Education team at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education affirms the value of arts in education through learning both in the arts and through the arts. We are committed to ensuring the provision of high quality arts education for all levels of learners.
We are a vibrant and forward-looking group with wide ranging interests in teaching, research and engagement. Our arts education philosophy embraces and supports:
- creative and innovative pedagogies and curriculum
- student-centred reflective learning
- collaborative and multi-disciplinary approaches to research
- and child and family engagement and learning in diverse community contexts.
Melbourne UNESCO Observatory of Arts Education
The Melbourne UNESCO Observatory of Arts Education provides a platform from which research and professional networks will continue to grow, not only within Melbourne, but across Australia and in collaboration with other Arts Observatories within the Asia-Pacific.
Phone: +61 3 8344 8339
Melbourne Graduate School of Education
234 Queensberry Street
Carlton, VIC 3010
The Arts Education team within the MGSE encourage pro-active and collaborative approaches to educational research and research-led teaching. We focus on the nexus between practice and research and the power of arts-rich pedagogy and curriculum, in education settings and the context of lifelong learning. We believe that creativity is an essential capability for personal, social, community and working life, and we pursue ways of developing and fostering creativity in our own students and in all educational systems – formal, non-formal and informal. Our artistic and creative forms of teaching and research inform and drive our continuously evolving courses and subjects and research themes for the Graduate School.
The Arts Education team are dedicated in to advancing the Teaching and Learning of Arts through investigative research projects analysing new and existing methodologies. See more hereView
The Arts Education team support a number of research student who undertake various research projects. See more here.View
There are many ways to study arts education with us both as a teacher candidate and as an education professional. We offer programs and pathways for Secondary specialist teachers, Early Childhood and Primary generalist teachers who want to focus on arts education.
Under our team’s guidance you will explore:
- The artistic and cultural curriculum
- The teacher as artist, the artist as teacher
- Arts pedagogy and learning in the arts
- Creativity and the arts
- Arts education in the community
- Social impact of the arts
- The teacher as researcher in arts-based contexts
Become a Teacher
Master of Teaching
Teacher candidates undertaking a Master of Teaching (Early Childhood) have the opportunity to undertake extended practical and theoretical studies based on learning about and through visual arts, drama, movement and music in early childhood.
Available arts education subjects:
Primary – opportunities for the generalist teacher
In the first year of study, teacher candidates undertaking a Master of Teaching (Primary) undertake eighteen weeks of intensive practical and theoretical studies based on learning about and through visual arts, drama, movement and music. Students also have the opportunity to select an elective arts subject in the second year of the program.
Available arts education subjects:
Primary – arts pathway
Master of Teaching (Primary) students can choose to take an Arts Pathway and this will be acknowledged by a certificate presented to them upon graduation.
View the Handbook entry for the Master of Teaching to see all requirements for the Arts pathway.
Teacher candidates undertaking the Postgraduate Diploma in Teaching and the Master of Teaching (Secondary) are required to undertake studies in two key learning areas. View secondary learning area guidelines for more information.
Available arts education subjects:
Drama (one learning area)
Music (two learning areas)
- Learning Area Music A (Classroom) 1
- Learning Area Music A (Classroom) 2
- Learning Area Music B CoCurricular 1
- Learning Area Music B CoCurricular 2
Visual Arts (two learning areas)
Courses for Education Professionals
Masters of Education coursework and Postgraduate Certificate of Arts Education
There are a range of courses available for students wanting to specialise in arts education.
Available arts education subjects:
- Engagement and the Arts
- Arts Practice and Evaluation
- Young People and Culture
- Teaching Shakespeare
- Shakespeare and Dramatic Pedagogy
Professional Certificate in Arts Education
The Professional Certificate in Arts Education covers topics including student engagement, arts-based learning and pedagogy. You will critically engage with issues, practices and theories about learning in and through the arts in diverse settings. The program is relevant to arts education specialists, generalist teachers, artists, community educators and other practitioners who work with children and young people. It offers generalist preparation to teach the arts, with the opportunity to focus specifically on music, the visual arts or drama.
This program provides a pathway to other graduate coursework and research programs.
The Melbourne Graduate School of Education (MGSE) is widely recognised as a leader in Australian education research.
Our Arts Education experts have a wealth of experience in supervising research students for a diverse range of arts, education and cross–disciplinary projects.
View more information about current and past student research projects
Arts Education offers a range of breadth subjects which targets over 350 undergraduate students per year from a diverse range of faculties within the university.
- Creative projects: digital technologies
- Creativity, play and the arts
- Story and the Arts
- Youth/arts: expressing cultural identities
- Drawing, painting and sensory knowing
- Spontaneous drama improv and learning communities
- School of rock and informal education
- Printing, collage and social engagement
- Devising drama in learning communities
The Arts Education team engages with a range of organisations, both from the public and private sector, and we are committed to developing partnerships with a diverse range of organisations. Our collaborations range from small scale, in-school projects to major, mulit- partner research projects. More information about our research collaborations and partnerships can be found at Research.
Our teams has been recognised for their work in engaging with the community, locally. In 2013 Associate Professor Neryl Jeanneret and Dr Robert Brown were awarded the Melbourne Graduate School of Education Engagement Award for excellence in forming a research partnership with the City of Melbourne that has significantly informed teaching. For more information about this partnership, see Researching ArtPlay and Signal.
Our experts teach mathematics education subjects, supervise research higher degree students, and conduct their own original and groundbreaking research.
Professor Susan Wright
Susan Wright is Chair of Arts Education at the University of Melbourne. Her teaching and research focuses on young children's meaning-making and communication using artistic symbol systems and multi-modal forms of expression (i.e., visual, spatial, musical and bodily-kinaesthetic ways of knowing) and emphasizes the significance of creative and somatic forms of learning and development.
She has been an active researcher, attracting over 30 competitive research grants totalling over $3M. Her most recent books are Understanding Creativity in Early Childhood: Meaning-Making and Children's Drawings (2010, SAGE, UK), Special Education: Perspectives and Practices (2008, Pearson, Singapore), The Arts, Young Children and Learning (2003, Allyn and Bacon, NY) and Children, Meaning-Making and the Arts (1st edition 2003; 2nd edition 2012, Pearson Australia).
Dr Jane Bird
Jane Bird is currently a lecturer in drama education in Artistic and Creative Education at The University of Melbourne. She lectures in both undergraduate and postgraduate studies of Drama Education. Jane is the co-author of the VCE student textbook series Acting Smart for both Drama and Theatre Studies that are in their fifth edition.
She has had ongoing relationships with the VCAA in various roles, from writer of curriculum documents and exam papers to performance examiner for Drama and Theatre Studies. Jane taught in a range of secondary schools, both government and independent, for over fifteen years. She is currently completing her PhD at the University of Melbourne, focusing on the processes and possible applications of ethnographic performance.
Dr Robert Brown
Robert Brown is an experienced arts and education lecturer in the Melbourne School of Graduate Education, The University of Melbourne. Currently Robert is the Senior Research Associate for an Australian Research Centre funded project investigating the practices of ArtPlay a community arts facility established by The City of Melbourne.
Robert is also currently managing a three-year Australia Council funded Community and Cultural Partnerships Initiative entitled the ACCESS program. Robert's ongoing research interests are interconnected and include; child and youth engagement, artist pedagogies, teacher reflective practice, Indigenous storytelling and artful play.
Ms Gina Grant
Gina Grant is a Lecturer in Visual Art Education within the Melbourne Graduate School of Education. She lectures in both primary and early childhood pre-service visual art education as well asin several Breadth subjects focusing on the interrelationships between young people and the Arts. To this end, she has presented workshops at several conferences.
Gina is a past-president of Art Educators of Victoria. She has a BEd (Primary) and is working on her Masters, looking at how children develop visual literacy. She is currently part of a research project looking at how graduate teachers are encouraged to use the arts and literature within their classrooms.
Associate Professor Wesley Imms
Wesley Imms is Senior Lecturer and Head of Visual Art Education, with extensive K-12 and tertiary experience teaching in Australia and Canada. Primarily a curriculum theorist, his multi-disciplinary research conflates issues concerning gender, teacher education, cross-disciplinary pedagogy, architecture, applied design and teacher/artistry. Significant research includes the national Boys Education Lighthouse Schools and The Compendium projects and Arts Victoria's artist-in-schools program evaluation.
Current projects include the impact of classroom design on student outcomes and teacher performance and a longitudinal study of the impact of teachers' artistic practice on performance and retention rates. He provides service to peak state and national art education organizations, is an editorial board member of Australian Art Education and Editor of Journal of Artistic and Creative Education.
Associate Professor Neryl Jeanneret
Neryl Jeanneret is the Head of Music Education and has held leadership positions in professional organisations, including President of the Australian Society for Music Education and Chair of the International Society for Music Education¹s Policy Commission. She has also served as an advisor in and to the New South Wales Department of Education and Board of Studies, NSW.
Her teaching and supervision experience includes music and the arts in preservice early childhood, primary and secondary and general educational areas in undergraduate and postgraduate programs in Australia and abroad. Her publications include national and international books, chapters and journal articles, as well as materials for the Australian Music Centre, Musica Viva, Opera Australia, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Arts Victoria and the curriculum and education authorities in NSW and Victoria.
Dr Richard Sallis
Richard Sallis is a lecturer in arts education in the Artistic and Creative Education group, a Clinical Specialist in the MGSE and a member of the Theatre Board of the university. He is also a lead researcher on the TheatreSpace ARC project. He is the Director of International Liaison for Drama Australia, the national drama educators' association, a Trustee of the Australian Children's Theatre Foundation and a Board member of the Arena Theatre Company.
He is also a Life Member of Drama Victoria. Richard is a co-author of the Acting Smart textbooks for Year 12 drama studies and has for many years been involved in curriculum writing for drama education in Australia. His research interests include equity and diversity, boys' education and ethnographic performance (ethnodrama).
Dr Christine Sinclair
Christine Sinclair is Head of drama education in the MGSE. She teaches and researches across a range of arts education programs, from teacher education to community, youth arts and teaching Shakespeare. She has been a lecturer in drama, arts education at a number of universities and has also co-ordinated postgraduate programs in professional and creative writing.
In addition to pre-service teacher training at primary and secondary school level, Christine has convened courses in acting, directing and theatre in the community. She is also a freelance community artist and is editor of NJ, the journal of Drama Australia. Her PhD research was based at a primary school and centred on the creation of a whole school and community performance festival.
Ms Jennifer Stevens-Ballenger
Jennifer Stevens-Ballenger is a Lecturer in Music Education within the Melbourne Graduate School of Education. She currently lectures in both primary and early childhood preservice music education and has a particular penchant for working musically with generalist teachers, parents and carers.
Jennifer has worked extensively as a specialist music teacher within a variety of early learning environments, including schools, preschools, childcare centres, community centres and parent groups. Her research interests include infant, early childhood and primary music education, musical parenting, child-centred pedagogies, learning in and through the arts and preservice teacher education.
Mr Andrew Swainston
Andrew Swainston is a music education lecturer at the University of Melbourne and teacher at Albert Park College. He is currently undertaking a PhD studying the experiences of music teachers in their first two years of teaching. In 2000 he completed a Masters degree (Music Education) at the Institute of Education, University of London.
Andrew worked as a music teacher for twenty years in Australia and the United Kingdom. He was Head of Music for five years at Lilian Baylis School in North Lambeth, London. In recent years Andrew was Music Director and Arts Coordinator at Williamstown High School Middle Years campus. He is a regular columnist for the national music education publication Music in Action.
Dr Marnee Watkins
Marnee Watkins is a lecturer in visual arts education in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne, teaching in undergraduate and postgraduate programs. She recently completed her Doctorate of Education investigating 'art rich' picture books and their affordances for thinking and inquiry in the primary classroom.
Her current research and practice reflects her ongoing professional interest in graduate primary teachers' needs for post-tertiary support, specifically related to implementing the visual arts in their interdisciplinary generalist teaching. Marnee's professional experience extends over thirty years working in Victoria and the Northern Territory as a teacher, lecturer and project officer on curriculum development.
Associate Professor Kate Donelan
Kate Donelan is one of Australia's leading drama educators. She was the former Head of Drama and is now Principal Fellow in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne. She has played an active role in arts curriculum and policy development in Australia and has held leadership positions in peak drama organisations. She was President of the National Association of Drama in Education and the Vice-President of IDEA (the International Drama/Theatre and Education Association).
She was the recipient of the inaugural Drama Australia President's award for outstanding contribution to Australian drama education. Her research and practice reflect a longstanding commitment to social justice and the development of intercultural understanding in Australian schools and classrooms.
Dr John O'Toole
John O'Toole was Foundation Chair of Arts Education from 2005-2010 and earlier, Professor of Drama at Griffith University. He has taught drama and applied theatre to all ages from early childhood to adult seniors and on all continents. He was co-founder of the Queensland, National and International Drama Education Associations.
He has written and co-written numerous books, including research:Theatre in Education – the first book on the subject - (Hodder 1977), The Process of Drama (Routledge 1992), Drama and Curriculum (Springer 2007) and Educational Research (OUP 2010); and standard textbooks like Dramawise (Heinemann 1987) and Pretending to Learn (Pearson 2002). He is currently the Arts Lead Writer in the Australian (National) Curriculum and is a practising playwright and director.
Administration Officer, Curriculum and Teaching