Art & Design

The Astra Learning Alliance currently has the following SLEs in this category:

Christopher Biddle (Chesham Grammar School)

Maxine Nichols (The Misbourne)



Christopher Biddle

School:  Chesham Grammar School

Position held: Head of Art & Photography

SLE area of expertise:  Art & Design & Photography

Current responsibilities:  Subject leader

Previous career history:

Over 20 years of experience in teaching the creative subjects including the Enfield area of north London, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire Secondary and Grammar Schools.

What you hope to achieve as an SLE:

To support the provision of Art & design teaching and help innovate the curriculum, encouraging students to take responsibility and be excited about the creative process.

To help develop appropriate strategies for improvement recognising the strengths and interests of staff and the context unique to every department.

To advocate and celebrate the contribution of Art & Design in a broad and balanced curriculum.

Specific areas of expertise, and how you might be able to help other schools:

I have extensive experience leading the provision for creative subjects including Art & Design and Photography. Promoting and innovating the Art & design curriculum is an ongoing preoccupation with the emphasis on the needs of the student. Understanding context is everything and I believe I have the skills to help diagnose difficulty and generate a dynamic environment where all are valued. Creative subjects play a vital role in achievement and provide unique opportunities for students to express themselves and for general mindfulness.

Future career goals:

To continue the promotion of Art & Design teaching and learning with involvement in the education of student teachers and the newly qualified. To be proactive with the SLE responsibility and look for opportunities to help others.


Maxine Nichols photo

Maxine Nichols

School:  The Misbourne

Position held: Head of Art & Photography

SLE area of expertise:  Art & Design & Photography

Current responsibilities:  Curriculum Leader Art, Design and Photography, Pedagogy Leader/CPD

Previous career history:

My experience to date covers twenty years in the classroom as a teacher and leader of Art, Design and Photography. Highlights have included student exhibitions in school as well as externally at The Saatchi Gallery, working with Warner Brothers Studios to evaluate educational packages and establishing links with external businesses to bring learning to life in the classroom. Other roles have included professional tutor, assistant head of year, faculty leader of art and technology and curriculum leader. My passion is teaching and learning and over the years I have enjoyed supporting colleagues across the curriculum as a qualified coach, mentor and induction tutor. In addition I have enjoyed many different voluntary and developmental roles, aspiring assistant headteacher, leading on whole school marking and feedback, the good to outstanding agenda, middle leadership professional development and of late being a member of the pedagogy team at the Misbourne. I have established effective partnerships externally, working with other schools as a consultant for Art and Design as well as completing a teaching and learning internship with the focus on developing reflective practitioners. For a number of years I have delivered training with Astra Alliance on strategies for assessment of/for learning and differentiation. I am a specialist lead in education for art and assessment and a visiting tutor.

What you hope to achieve as an SLE:

To work in collaboration with other schools and colleagues to secure high quality teaching and learning. Raising standards and student progress.

Specific areas of expertise, and how you might be able to help other school:

Quality assurance in teaching and learning

Action Planning for progress

Personalised formative assessment adding stretch and challenge

Mentor and coach for middle leaders

Curriculum planning in Art and Design KS3, KS4 and KS5

Future career goals:

Senior Leadership position