How can Artsmark support the creative lives of young people?

Published on: 
10 Jun 2021

As we begin delivering our new ten-year strategy, Let’s Create, our Children and Young People team are working hard to ensure that all youth engagement projects play a key role in helping us achieve our vision.

Keisha Thompson, Senior Manager for Children and Young People, explains the value of consulting children and young people, how we are going about that and the impact it will have on our programme…

Here at the Arts Council, we think children and young people’s engagement with arts, culture and creativity is essential to help build their confidence, character and resilience that will help them succeed in life. It’s why we invest in a number of programmes to ensure children and young people have access to creativity at each stage of their life, both within and outside of schools. One of those programmes is Artsmark - the only creative quality standard for schools and education settings – which helps teachers and school leaders embed creativity across the whole curriculum.

Through our work with Artsmark, it’s evident that to succeed in creating arts-rich schools, we need arts-rich teachers, and one of the main things we hear from Artsmark teachers is that they really value Artmark’s Continued Professional Development (CPD) - training sessions, practical resources and support offers from cultural organisations and creative practitioners - to help them do this. With that in mind, it’s important for this offer to stay relevant and responsive, and we believe one of the key groups that should contribute to the conversation of what it means to have an arts-rich school are those who are on receiving end. It’s important that any project that’s focussed on young people should be informed by young people’s voices.

Beatfreeks are a leading national organisation for youth insight and engagement, so earlier this year we worked with them to consult a group of young people on what it takes to create an arts-rich environment. This commission aimed to find out what young people would like to experience in their educational settings to support them in understanding themselves as creative people. As you will see in the report we’ve published, the findings were extremely insightful and will help us to make the case for why programmes like Artsmark are so important for young people’s creative development – not solely in arts lessons – but across the curriculum.

With 36.7% of young people saying they were not satisfied with their arts curriculum and 83.6% saying they would support initiatives aimed at decolonising the curriculum, the report clearly shows that young people want a more creative and diverse curriculum, which many of our Artsmark schools are committed to. We also see the value young people place on creativity across all their learning with 70% saying they would like to see the arts included in non-arts subjects.

Through Artsmark engagement, students are given an opportunity connect with their fellow students and process the world around them. Teachers are empowered to shape their curriculum and advocate for the impact that the arts can have on the whole school.

There is more work to be done, and we’ll use these findings to inform how we evolve the Artsmark CPD offer in a way that compliments teachers and students alike. We also think this report is relevant to anyone who wants to know what young people identify as the key elements for creating an arts rich and diverse educational environment, so please dive in. 

Download the report

Keisha Thompson

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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