Artsmark and Arts Award are two different programmes created by Arts Council England that complement and build upon each other excellently. We look at one example, Oatlands Junior School in Harrogate, of how Artsmark and Arts Award support each other.
Artsmark is a creative quality standard for schools, accredited by Arts Council England. Artsmark demonstrates a commitment by the school towards providing quality arts education and improving on their arts provision. One of the ways that schools can demonstrate this commitment is by delivering Arts Award. Arts Award can be delivered in lots of different settings (museums, arts organisations, community centres, sole artists working with volunteers and more) but it makes perfect sense for schools to offer it to pupils. In much the same way that schools support pupils completing sports awards, swimming certificates, the Duke of Edinburgh award or similar schemes, Arts Award gives pupils a tangible record of their achievements, builds confidence and independence and structures their exploration into their passion.
One school that is already incorporating Arts Award into their Artsmark plans is Oatlands Junior School in Harrogate. An outstanding example of high-quality arts education; Oatlands Children have achieved awards at local, national and international level including:
Specialist Art teacher at the school, Samantha Joseph credits part of this success to Artsmark and Arts Award.
“Oatlands Junior School are proud to be part of the Artsmark family. It has enabled us to audit, celebrate, achieve, develop a high standard and quality arts provision for our children. Arts Award Discover or Explore, offered in Year 6, means children achieve and celebrate their hard work and commitment to the arts ending in receiving their certificate in their end of Year 6 leavers celebrations assembly.
Arts Award is achieved through taking part in our Annual Arts Week and Arts Exhibition, where we explore themes or celebrate different cultures. In 2017, we celebrated the UK/ India Year of Culture where children throughout the school took part in arts activities inspired by India’s rich and wonderful arts and culture. This year, in Arts Week, we are exploring conceptual ideas in contemporary arts.
We know that arts opportunities and our personalised relevant and exciting arts curriculum plays an important part of a balanced education. Oatlands provides opportunities for all, where children experience a high standard of art and music education, taught by specialist teachers and experience creative writing opportunities, poetry, drama and dance. We are recognised by other schools as an inspiration. Whether this is visiting our newly developed website, exhibiting at galleries; including the Saatchi Gallery in London or showcasing the talents of our children at our yearly Arts Exhibition.
Through our journey of both Artsmark and Arts Award, this has raised our profile within the area where we collaborate on projects within the community and other schools. This includes arts projects, music concerts for local venues, including performances for care homes and events to raise money for local charities.
Working with arts organisations has given children a valuable insight into creative aspirations as well as a wide range of cultural experiences, including working with artists, musicians, authors, actors and dancers. We have formed friendships with organisations such as the Mercer Gallery, Harrogate Theatre, Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Encore, 108 Fine Art Gallery, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the National Trust, who love working with our school because of the enthusiasm, creativity, enjoyment and engagement from our children.”
One of the most forward-thinking aspects of Oatlands, which emerged from the Artsmark evaluation process, is their elected Arts committee, which is made up of both staff and pupils. Committee members are elected and support all the many exciting Arts events held at Oatlands Junior School throughout the year including voting and helping to plan the focus for Arts Weeks and other projects.
Involvement in the committee demonstrates some of the broader benefits of the arts, which is reflect in Arts Award; developing leadership, planning yours and others time, sticking to a project and completing it. All skills which are vital for any role and which Arts Award reinforces and values.
“Through the Arts, we develop young leaders who, inspired by experiencing a quality arts provision, lead their own arts clubs including: dance, art, choir and drama. Our elected Arts Committee support all the Arts events acting as ambassadors for the Arts. They work with the Mercer Gallery in Harrogate to develop and provide resources for workshops delivered by the gallery, for schools and vulnerable groups in the community.
As a school community we are incredibly proud of our Arts and of our achievements. The impact has been incredible for our children, who have benefited from the high standard of arts and cultural provision. The Arts contribute to their wellbeing, achievement, confidence, ability to express themselves creatively and develops their critical thinking skills.”
We can only congratulate Oatlands on their outstanding Arts provision, where both Arts Award and Artsmark have come together to create an embedded programme of creativity across the curriculum. It is also wonderful to hear that this is having far-reaching effects well into the community and even nationally and internationally. Such brilliant commendations from the Prince and partner Arts and Cultural organisations can only highlight their high standards of work but also show how the arts can create well-rounded children who are clearly a joy to work with.
At a time when arts education is undervalued due to budget concerns and the introduction of EBacc and progress 8, Oatlands is an example to all and demonstrates the positive impact the arts can have. For Oatlands, the Arts are a necessity and prepare their young people for successful and exciting futures.
The school’s official values are;
“We’re enthusiastic and positive, We love to learn, We imagine and create.”
And we couldn’t agree more.
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