Discover the impact of working with Artsmark Partners (part one)

Published on: 
5 Nov 2020


The Artsmark Partnership Programme connects educational settings with cultural organisations on your doorstop. We currently have over 1000 Artsmark Partners in every corner of England to help support you to deliver excellent arts and cultural education.

In the first of a two blog series, Kate Fellows, Head of Learning and Access at Leeds Museums and Galleries, one of our Artsmark Partners, discusses how Artsmark Partners can support schools on their journey and how they’ve adapted their offer during Covid-19.

“Workshops with Leeds Museums and Galleries, for both pupils and staff, have been thoroughly enjoyable! These are not the 'icing on the cake' but an important part of a rich curriculum. A whole new approach to teaching History and Geography has been achieved. Teachers now feel confident to use an enquiry approach.”

Robbie Burns, History Curriculum lead, Raynville Primary, Leeds


‘Please Miss, is it real?’ I have lost count of the amount of times I have answered that question as a museum professional. Sometimes the answer is a simple yes, other times a ‘what do you think?’, or even ‘define real’. As museums, we are all about the power of the real. Object based learning is putting a 3000-year-old object into the hands of child and watching the awe and wonder as they explore it, making connections to their life now. That’s what we do at Leeds Museums and Galleries.

We are what we say on the tin – nine very different museums and galleries across Leeds, holding 1.3 million objects and artworks owned by the people of the city. Our ethos is about place making. We want people to feel at home in cultural spaces, and for young people to grow their sense of cultural capital.

We have been Artsmark Partners since 2017. For us, it is all about forging long term, sustainable partnerships with schools that effect change both ways. Working with schools over several years, we have conversations that support changes to the curriculum and alter the way we operate as a service. Our offer hasn’t changed because of Covid-19, but some of the ways in which we deliver it have done. We’ve continued to provide in-depth curriculum planning support, looking at intent and implementation and many schools are looking for diverse content in the light of Black Lives Matter. Our role is to nudge and challenge. Together, we look at how we teach topics, such as KS1 ‘explorers’ which often focus on ‘discovering the new world’, and how peppering the curriculum with diverse examples is not enough to change institutional bias. These conversations have continued to happen with senior leaders, curriculum leads, and as part of whole staff training, they have just moved online or socially distanced in school halls rather than in staff rooms.

Throughout Covid-19 we have still been delivering experiences for pupils. As a team, we had many debates over the summer about the authenticity of digital workshops. How can you convey the power of the real through a screen? We carefully constructed live workshops with pre-planned sensory elements, films, interactivity and real objects in the classroom through our membership scheme, or 3D photography of objects online. They are popular, and can provide access to our collections from anywhere in the country. However, we miss people. We miss the interactions. We miss the massive amount of cultural capital that comes with visits out of the classroom. Our spaces and our teaching are Covid-19 Secure, and when schools are comfortable coming back, we will welcome them with open (socially distanced) arms.

Our offer has grown because of Covid-19. We are now offering Recovery Curriculum Discover Arts Award focusing on Social and Emotional Learning. Activities are designed to promote collaboration, creativity, self-esteem and expressive communication skills.

Most of the schools we work with are in low income areas where the attainment gap has grown and a high proportion of children have had little access to home learning provision. School leaders have put arts and culture at the heart of their curriculum planning because they believe in its transformative power beyond workshops with pupils. If you are looking for long lasting change, ask an Artsmark Partner for a chat about curriculum. Trust me, it will be mutually beneficial to talk!


“Working with Leeds Museums and Galleries has been amazing and continues to inspire my whole staff team. Working with Leeds Museums and Galleries is really allowing us to fulfil our staff’s continued professional development (CPD) target as set out by Ofsted. By the time they return our curriculum will be exceptional, as we have created an enquiry based bespoke curriculum relevant to the needs of our community and pupils that will ensure they receive a first class education, what they truly deserve.”

Caroline Carr, Headteacher of Greenmount Primary, Leeds


Find out more about the Artsmark Partnership Programme here.

If you’re a cultural organisation and you’re interested in becoming an Artsmark Partner, contact your local Bridge Organisation to find out more.     

We're so pleased that the Department of Education has recognised the importance of arts education and have confirmed it can continue in schools during new national restrictions. Make sure to check out the latest guidance so you can continue learning! Read the latest guidance.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     


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Cultural education gives children and young people the opportunity to develop their creativity, both individually and collectively, and that's why our goal is for every child and young person to have the opportunity to experience the richness of the arts.

Darren Henley
Chief Executive
Arts Council England

It's vital that children have the opportunity to learn and enjoy arts and culture from an early age. It develops their creativity, inspires future careers and enriches their childhood.

Artsmark Award does brilliant work in schools and education to ensure young people access a broad and balanced curriculum that includes high-quality arts and culture.

Michael Ellis MP
Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism
Department of Culture, Media and Sport