Artsmark and Whole School Improvement with Bridgeview Whitehouse

Bridgeview Whitehouse uses Artsmark to put the arts at the centre of everything they do and as a result have seen improvements in engagement behaviour and even staff job satisfaction.

Bridgeview Whitehouse is a site of primary age learning that houses a behavioural PRU and a special school near Pickering Park in Hull. Until very recently it also housed the Pickering Centre – a medical PRU. At the core of each school is a belief in the power of the arts.

 “We have a named governor with responsibility for arts and culture.”

The school has a Creative Arts Director, a music specialist, a drama specialist, a dance specialist and a full-time Food Technology teacher. On Thursdays, all pupils cook food that is then sold at the Venn Café on site on Friday mornings.

Pupil Painting at Bridgeview Whitehouse

The school employs 2 other specialist professionals that are fairly unique in the primary setting: a life coach and a specialist art teacher. The life coach is responsible for addressing and helping resolve difficult behaviours and he has a number of avenues open to him.

For instance, if a student is struggling with self-discipline, the life coach can put him/her on a Lego intervention, where students work in pairs to learn patience, following instructions and verbalising tasks. Similarly, the life coach can recommend an art intervention, where a student will work one-to-one with Julie, the art teacher. Julie will keep a record of the work but also the progress made emotionally against his/her targets.

On top of the 1-2-1 sessions, Julie also teaches every pupil in the school a formal art lesson every week. The quality of the artwork around the school is superb and it is evident that the pupils benefit in so many ways from this specialist provision.

The work is planned in as much detail as the learning in core subjects and each pupil’s portfolio shows clear evidence of progression and bespoke challenge. Perhaps unsurprisingly therefore, Gerald Fox, Creative Arts Director, hosts and leads the termly art coordinators Network meetings for primary and secondary schools within the Venn family of schools. It is just one way in which the school is a leader within its network and local area. Gerald also led a neighbour primary school in securing a Creative Community grant from the Hull City of Culture. He is also supporting other schools in the submission of their Artsmark Statement of Commitment documents.

So where does the Artsmark fit in at Bridgeview Whitehouse?

Gaudi Inspired Art at Bridgeview Whitehouse

The school was awarded the Artsmark Gold award last month in recognition of its commitment to the arts and to learning through the arts. The two-year Artsmark journey gave the school a clear framework on which to build, reinforce and structure their arts provision.

“Our pupils have the opportunity to experience art forms beyond the classroom.”

Perhaps the biggest influence on the school has been the development of the teaching staff’s confidence and arts skills as a result of a huge number of partnerships with professional artists. In no particular order, the school has invested in partnerships with Broccolily Theatre (now The Herd), The National Centre for Early Music, Royal Shakespeare Company, Northern Ballet, Hull Truck Theatre and My Pockets film company. By working with these professionals for extended periods and in partnership, the CPD of the staff has been foregrounded. This new found confidence and expertise has then reinvigorated staff members’ approaches to the curriculum.

 The Head of School Improvement has taken the lead in ensuring there is greater evidence of whole school planning across the school of arts and culture. This has resulted in the establishment of a two-year cycle of plans, which include dedicated schemes of work for Art, Music, Design and Technology and progression of skills. There is also a plan to weave a wide range of learning opportunities through the curriculum, including a greater variety of alternative arts. These will include installation, site specific art and conceptual art.

And any future plans?

Pupils from Bridgeview Whitehouse on an art gallery trip

Gerald plans to work with Julie in the future to incorporate the Arts Award into the one-to-one sessions. Several of the Bridgeview Whitehouse staff are trained to deliver the award. Though rare at primary level, they feel that the Bronze award will be very possible for some of their students. Since Julie already works in a very student-led way, the small step to encouraging students to research their art heroes is highly achievable. All students already interact with lots of professional art, they take part in outstanding art activities and, increasingly Julie encourages individuals to share their passions with their peers and encourage them to mentor and coach each other in their particular fields of expertise. This all adds up to a Bronze Arts Award.

“All of these achievements are the result of a strong and continued commitment to the arts from the SLT. This is evident in both the staff time and resources made available to the arts.”


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