When they embarked on their journey to Artsmark accreditation, the team at Balderstone St Leonard's C of E Primary School couldn't have anticipated the pandemic and it's impact on their whole school family. Despite the challenges, the experience has also taught them a great deal about the inherent value of 'ownership'.
Celebrating their recent award of 'Gold' status, Kate Turner, Year 3 & 4 Teacher, explains why there's definitely no going back now!
In our efforts to enhance Arts provision, Artsmark was a great starting point. Our journey with Artsmark has allowed us to look at where we were as a school and the steps to accreditation became an invaluable tool, helping us focus on what we want to achieve for our pupils, now and in the future.
The central mission statement of our school is to "Love God, Love each other and Love learning". We believe passionately in offering our children copious opportunities to live life in all its fullness and we have used this philosophy to develop a bespoke and creative curriculum. After nearly 2-years of working towards the accreditation, we are delighted that our Artsmark Gold Award actively demonstrates how our school's arts provision gives the children a curriculum entitlement that is rich and varied, providing joyful experiences beyond what they might normally get but to which they are wholly entitled.
Year 3 & 4 Teacher
A whole school project
As a school team we used Arts Council England's Quality Principles as our starting point, planning our route to accreditation from there.
Staff members have enjoyed high quality learning and development from a wide variety of lancashire-based arts providers - including dance and radio with The Dukes, clog dancing through the Lancashire Sparks project , Blackburn Sing Together - and we're all looking forward to where the children will take us next!
The impact of pupil voice
Pupil impact monitoring has demonstrated that the children have developed a clear sense of ‘belonging and ownership’ through this process, and that pupil voice is very well established.
Through their enthusiasm, the children are driving the arts forward... they will not let us sit back now! Our children keep asking us “what next?”, “what can we make/do?" or "where can we go?”. They themselves are providing the inspiration and momentum.
'Ownership' is a real strength at Balderstone St Leonard's. The pandemic has brought this to the fore, with the creative experiences we have been able to provide bringing our whole community together with fun and laughter. Online activities during lockdown included: Balderstone VE Day Conga, Balderstone does Lip sync, ‘through the window’ (an all arts competition) and lots more.
There's no doubt that Covid put a spanner in the works; but it also made us think differently. We changed and adapted to ensure our artistic endeavours could continue. Utilising arts to connect people during lockdown definitely brought us together more as a school family: To create, to inspire, to bring joy and to discover new things. Now, more than ever before, the arts are being used as a tool to support mental health and keep people smiling.
During lockdown one of our Year three Children Georgia (aka Crafty G) used her art skills to create art videos, to cheer up her friends and keep them busy whilst they were stuck at home. This really inspired her peers – leading onto other avenues and activities like podcasts and audio books. It is absolutely wonderful to see the passion and creativity that our children have for the arts, which is why we now use pupil voice as a guiding force - ensuring we provide a curriculum that is well balanced and diverse.
A road worth travelling
Our school's journey with Artsmark has inspired the Head, Senior Leadership Team (SLT), Arts Lead and governors to strive for excellence in promoting a lifelong love and enjoyment of the arts amongst our children. We have been driven to pursue a wide range of cultural partnerships, to ensure that all our children have the opportunity to enjoy quality cultural experiences and our well established Arts Council is actively engaged in finding new ways of ‘enjoying and learning’ from the Arts; bringing fresh ideas to the table and sharing their own expertise with others.
The best thing about doing Artsmark has been... THE JOURNEY!