Thorndown Primary School

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Artsmark Silver

Age range: 4-11

Region: Cambridgeshire

Thorndown Primary School were awarded their Artsmark Silver in September 2018 and we spoke to Art Subject Leader Hilary Patrick about their Artsmark journey and working with Wysing Arts Centre who are an Artsmark Partner organisation.

Tell us a bit about your school and its vision

Our vision is to support our children in their journey to become well-adjusted adults who can achieve successes and enjoy their lives.  We are proud to be playing a part in developing a generation of creative thinkers and confident communicators, who will be able to understand themselves emotionally and achieve their potential in the future. When a couple of our Year 6 children were asked if they thought the arts were important one responded “Of course. This building is a sculpture. Without art we wouldn’t have a building”. His friend replied, “Yes even our climbing frames are sculpture.“ A few weeks later, the Art Coordinator was able to show the boys a photo of a current installation at the Tate Modern based on the concept of a playground. It was a lovely moment for them to realise how valid their idea of their world was.

What were the most useful parts of the development day and support session?

Throughout the process we have been challenged as a school to look at our arts provision with fresh eyes. This not only highlighted the great work that the school was already doing but made us  question how we could improve our provision through a more holistic creative curriculum, forming partnerships with other arts providers and developing ways to make our children more independent in their approach to learning. The support sessions were also a great way to network, develop further ideas and make contacts for future projects.

What were the highlights and successes of your journey?

We worked in partnership with Wysing Arts Centre to create a whole school poetry flag installation, which reflected our community. This became a much bigger project than initially envisaged and resulted not only in a large scale installation but also involvement from others,  as one of our specialist music teachers was moved to form a composition club for the event. It also proved to be an invaluable opportunity for CPD, with many staff having the chance to work alongside Wysing Studio Artist Caroline Wendling. Shortly after this event, we were delighted to take part in a separate project that Caroline had devised, centred around St Ivo. Both events had a significant effect on attracting parental involvement, many of whom had been previously “school shy”.

How did you Artsmark planning fit with your school vision?

We quickly realised when completing our statement of commitment at the start of our Artsmark journey, that our aims to develop our creative curriculum and be more outward looking as a school, were a perfect fit for Artsmark.

What was the most unexpected outcome from your journey?

The extent of our commitment to Artsmark has far surpassed initial expectation and positively impacted on every element of our school, including one aspect that had not been considered; the impact on sense of staff wellbeing, which is vibrant and motivated.

What teaching and learning opportunities have developed from your Artsmark Journey?

Investment in ‘Mantle of the Expert’ pedagogy training has supported development of drama and creative visualisation skills. Formally observed lessons have evidenced children eager to engage and further depth of discussion. The children became enthusiastic, focused writers with this approach. This process has created environments in which all children participate and achieve without barriers. The improvement in quality of writing, especially for EAL and lower ability children has been of particular note.

Would you do it again?

In beginning our Artsmark journey, we recognised the importance of meeting the requirements of the Silver Award, whilst making this sustainable as part of a demanding profession. With this in place, we are now keen to continue with the aim of achieving Gold.

Cultural Organisations supporting Artsmark

“As an Artsmark Partner, Wysing Arts Centre can provide a range of support for schools on their Artsmark journey. Working with Thorndown Primary School we were able to bring Wysing studio artists to the school, and use that as a starting point for students to creatively explore their own area. Children and young people can access a wide range of creative experiences at Wysing, including gallery exhibitions, outdoor art, installations, access to a recording studio, multimedia art and performances. Wysing Arts Centre is able to support or deliver Arts Award at all levels, and can also provide bespoke CPD opportunities for teachers, and support schools on their Artsmark journey through visits, workshops or longer-term projects.” Lucy Shipp, Education Manager at Wysing Arts Centre


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