Humberston Academy – It’s Not About the Kitemark, it’s About the Journey

Humberston Academy see Artsmark as a way to building a sense of community, between schools in the trust, parents, teachers and pupils using the Arts.

Humberston Academy in Grimsby is a school that serves a very diverse socio-economic area. The school community is happy, vibrant and one of the reasons for this is that the school understands the value of the arts and culture in bringing people together. As part of the David Ross Education Trust, social and cultural enrichment is a hallmark of an education at one of its 34 schools.  Humberston Academy is an excellent example of a school that lives and breathes the Trust’s commitment to delivering a ‘world-class’ education.

As Dan Shoubridge, Associate Principal, explains:

 “We realised our arts provision had the opportunity to develop to the same level as our sports provision, and the Artsmark was an excellent way to address this.”

Artsmark Grimsby Academy pupils practicing dance

So what did Humberston Academy have?

They had a passionate and highly skilled Head of Faculty in Nicola Law. Music trained and delivering Drama, Nicola devotes all of her energies to the students and has an outstanding record of Drama GCSE results. This was an excellent place to start. One thing that the Senior Leadership Team recognises is the value in sharing skills across subjects and key stages. At Humberston, they have ‘Open Doors’. Rather than expecting teachers to present to colleagues in after school sessions, staff members select subjects and lessons they wish to observe where they feel they will pick up new ideas. Nicola’s name is always on the list and she is regularly singled out for observation. Why? As Nicola says:

“I think colleagues are interested to see how we achieve such excellent results, especially with students who are not traditionally academic. When they see the independence of our students and their brilliant team work, colleagues want to know more.”

Artsmark Humberston academy pupils performing a play

Why are the Arts so valued at Humberston?

As part of the David Ross Education Trust, the leadership team recognise how valuable the arts can be in giving students a strong sense of identity and belonging. They also see how many vital life skills can be best developed by the arts: confidence, negotiation, listening, risk-taking. The list is long.

As David Ross himself says,

“Whether it is debating, drama, music, sport, art or outward-bound pursuits we want to support every child in developing the confidence and skills that will stay with them for life.”

How do they work with other schools?

Each academic year, the school devotes full days to PSHCE education. Nicola and her team in the Performing Arts faculty always volunteer to tackle some of the more difficult subjects and deliver the learning through drama and active learning. Why? Because they believe that if a student can experience a situation, environment, character or incident, she can learn better from it.

The Arts team are already doing plenty and want to do more. Working with partner primary schools, they run a World Arts Celebration involving Year 7s from the Academy and Year 5s from the primaries. Teachers from the Academy run dance sessions for the Y5s and students from both settings interact in drama, dance and music from other cultures. All of this helps raise the self-esteem of the students and provides valuable opportunities for leaderships skills to flourish. It also begins a meaningful transition at an early stage in the Year 5s’ journeys.

artsmark humberston academy student learning the violin

How has the Artsmark process helped?

With their Silver Artsmark award, Humberston Academy is now on its path towards Gold. The school has come a long way and wants to travel much further. There are plans to work with more arts organisations to provide inspiration and role models for the students. They plan to increase the amount of student voice they utilise to ensure that they continue to provide the Arts experiences that the students really want.

They are already working closely with other David Ross Education Trust schools; sharing the expertise of the schools’ teaching staff to the benefit of students in all schools. The school wants to keep building the sense of community through the Arts; they already have a vibrant team of parents who construct the sets for the school plays. More and more staff are getting involved in the thriving extra-curricular programme, as they witness the pleasure and sense of togetherness that these programmes foster. In short, the team are already on their path towards Gold.

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