Part of the Raedwald Trust. Parkside is a Key Stage 3-4 Pupil Referral Unit which caters for the needs of young people unable to access mainstream education due to social, medical or emotional needs. They have used the Artsmark programme to enhance learning across their whole school and to help promote the ethos of acceptance, raising self esteem and providing a broad educational experience for their students. We spoke to Headteacher Sally Swann.
Tell us a bit about your school?
Many of our young people are socially marginalised and self-excluded from education as a result of their many and varied issues. Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, attachment disorders, autistic spectrum disorder and OCD to name but a few affect the lives of most of our students. Most have large gaps in their education through absence. Their health conditions make accessing education a continual battle.
A referral to Parkside Academy is chance for us to help our young people re-balance their education and to realise their own potential. To do this, we are very flexible and pursue bespoke work and timetables to suit each young person. Providing access to a broad range of creative pursuits is a vital part of our work.
What have been the highlights of your Artsmark journey?
Artsmark has given us a focus and enabled us to work with the Arts in its broadest sense. It challenged us to embed arts within our whole curriculum as it was part of our school development plan. One of our biggest strides forward is in exhibitions of work which are held at the end of each key stage three project. We have also broadened our Arts offer to include Arts Diploma, Entry level Art, creative computing. We have more students than ever before accessing 1:1 music lessons. In addition, we ran and hope to continue to run a creative week within the summer term. This has had the most noticable benefits. A deeper sense of trust between staff and students, developing of friendships, more settled behaviours, greater confidence and willingness to take challenges on in all areas of school life.
Tell us a bit about the benefits that offering a broad arts and cultural curriculum has brought to students at Parkside?
Students who struggle to work in a traditional way in a classroom are encouraged to work wherever they feel comfortable in the school. Flexibility in teaching and collaboration between colleagues has been key to ensuring our young people make the most of their creativity to grow and progress.
All students are offered a wide selection of opportunities to explore their own creativity. For KS4 students, the Arts are pursued through a vast range of pathways such as; GCSEs in Art, Drama and Design Technology, a range of Entry Level courses, Arts Awards and the University of the Arts Diploma. To the whole school we offer Rock School, Samba Drumming, Creative Computing, craft activities, individual music tuition, visits to recording studios and other creative agencies, collaborative cross-centre events with our partner schools and more.