Christ Church Primary embark on their Artsmark journey

Published on: 
24 May 2021

It’s been a year like no other for schools, with many different challenges to overcome. This didn’t stop Christ Church embarking on their Artsmark journey though! We speak to their arts lead, Nicola Bingham, about how the Artsmark framework is supporting them.

Christ Church Primary School and Nursery is situated in Burton on Trent, serving an urban area of high deprivation with many families on low incomes. Fourteen percent of the cohort of 313 primary pupils receive pupil premium funding.

Why Artsmark?

Our Governors and the whole school worked together in revisiting our school’s aims and objectives and agreed that we should focus on ‘providing a stimulating and secure environment that motivates and inspires our pupils to learn, where the arts are celebrated and wellbeing cherished.’

Our goals are to:

  • Showcase young people’s work
  • Build long-lasting arts partnerships
  • Offer more CPD opportunities
  • Develop pupil voice

The Artsmark criteria aligns really well with our vision and we felt the framework would help support us in achieving our goals and ambitions.

Our ethos is to nurture our pupils to be aspirational and be lifelong learners in a rapidly changing world, equipping them for the future. Our children come from a diverse, multi-cultural community where we value them as individuals and meaningful home-school links are key in ensuring harmonious and happy relationships.

Celebrating young people’s work

We’ve worked hard to ensure our curriculum reflects our pupils, including a more diverse range of artists. Arts is prevalent across all subjects; Drama is part of our English lessons where children use actions in the style of Pie Corbett to support narrative writing and sentence skills. In EYFS, teachers scribe children’s ‘Helicopter Stories’, a technique in which children enjoy acting out stories. In History, we have had visiting performers where children have experienced dramatizing certain events.

We showcase achievement through our Class Assemblies, productions and in Year 6, children discuss and reflect on their end of year production, celebrating their success.

However, we feel there is much more we could be doing to showcasing our children’s talents within school, and to the wider community, through social media and the schools BGFL. We will look for local places to exhibit children’s art work, for example The Brewhouse, Burton Library and local art galleries. We would like to exhibit more of the children’s work around school in a thought- provoking and inspiring way as well as host an exhibition at our Summer Fayre.

Artsmark will support our children to become inspired, enthused and more confident in artistic voice when it comes to choices about showcasing their work in our learning environment and in the wider community.

Giving pupils a voice

We want to ensure that our pupils shape our arts curriculum and ambitions. Pupil voice will be developed through a newly elected pupil led Arts Council. Children who have a flair for, or interest in the Arts will be encouraged to apply. We want members of the Arts Council be an Ambassador in their class, supporting the teacher and peers in developing their creative skills and understanding. The Arts Council will develop new skills and understanding of the types of art there are and feed back to their peers what they have learnt.

They will play a key role in selecting the creative partners and artists we engage with and will collate ideas from their peers about what Arts they would like to see in school. The Arts Council will be encouraged to think of ideas on how we can get their families and the wider community involved in our vision, showcasing the positive outcomes of our arts partnerships.

As a staff team, we can then start to provide them with better opportunities to experience professional productions and ensure that at least one school trip per year group will expose pupils to a high-quality arts experience.

Thriving partnerships

Our range of arts offer through lunch and after school clubs include art club drawing, Christmas and Easter crafts, a Mendhi corner at the Summer Fayre, Church visits, puppet performances and going to the Pantomime.

We acknowledge that we need a clearer focus on arts partnerships and our Arts Council will play a key role in this. We want to expand on our existing partnerships but will also use our Arts Council to seek new partners.

We also plan to look within our own school community to find new opportunities. For example, a staff audit on their talents they can offer to our children has been raised.  Some children’s family members are interested in the arts and have offered their talents and that of their friends (Les Miserable – actress in the West End, ballerina form the Royal Ballet etc) We encourage all visitors to share their skills and talk about their careers to inspire our pupils. We want to make links with feeder high schools, cultural community groups and those schools who have achieved their Gold or Platinum Artsmark Award and reach out to our Bridge organisation, Arts Connect, who can signpost us to Artsmark Partners and other cultural organisations or creative practitioners.

Building staff confidence

Our staff are already very much engaged with the arts curriculum, but we want to do more to make sure that they feel confident in delivery and through developing our arts partnerships, we hope to provide many opportunities to upskill them.

All staff were asked to fill in an arts audit rating their confidence in delivering the arts from 1-5. From this, we want to create a CPD programme using in-house expertise that will equip our teachers with the skills and confidence to teach a high-quality arts curriculum.

We will also invite professionals to train staff in areas where they lack confidence. Visits and training from specialists to deliver CPD, from our bridge organisation, other arts organisations or feeder high schools, will enable us to do this.

Follow Christ Church Primary’s Artsmark journey on Twitter.

Nicola Bingham

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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