Age range: 4-11
West Town Primary Academy is a vibrant inner city school in Peterborough. It offers an excellent arts and cultural education, and opportunities for it’s pupils to celebrate their artistic learning within school and through festivals and competitions over the year. The school uses Artsmark and Arts Award to provide an environment where pupils are able to achieve within the arts.
The school were part of the original pilot for the new Artsmark programme, and were awarded their Artsmark Gold award in September this year. Our Education Manager Naomi sat down with Arts Specialist Catherine Brooks to talk about their journey.
Tell us a bit about your Artsmark journey
We originally went through the pilot process for Artsmark, and thoroughly enjoyed the setup of the new way that Artsmark was delivered, it suited our school in that it wasn’t evidence chasing any more and it’s more based on where we are going in the future. We decided Artsmark was always going to be an important thing in our school improvement plans.
The vision for our school has always been placing the arts at the forefront, our Headteacher and Deputy Headteacher have always employed specialists to ensure that not only the children appreciate what the arts can bring them but also to disseminate training and skills progression within the staff as well. It’s a whole school approach to the arts
What are the highlights of your Artsmark journey?
A definite highlight has been the delivery of Arts Award through our Artsmark journey. It’s encouraged us to bring outside agencies in so our children are working with real artists, the amount of times our children have said that was such a real experience, that was changing for me in their own words, has been quite profound. We deliver Discover to our Year 2, and Explore to Year 5. The teachers have thoroughly enjoyed it, because the delivery of Arts Award within our Artsmark journey has meant that the children reflect on their experiences far more than if we were just delivering experiences as part of an Artsmark journey. When they reflect on it and we reflect on it, then we can build on it in the future. It opens up so many doors
The other highlight has been making contacts with organisations like Platform 8 because we’ve worked with them on projects which aren’t necessarily made before they come to us, such as bespoke products that suit our curriculum. They have then passed our information on as an Artsmark school willing to work with outside agencies, whether it’s dance, drama or visual arts. As an Artsmark Gold school, we now have people approaching us with really interesting projects, and we get approached first.
What are the unexpected things that have come our of your Artsmark journey?
We have a school of almost 97% children speaking English as an additional language, many of them are new to English so we wanted our focus to be literacy based. We wanted to link how the visual arts, particularly drawing, could expand children’s ability to understand what they were reading. The unexpected thing that came out of it was that staff then jumped on board with the training and skills progression I’d put in place.
What about the future?
We will definitely be doing the Artsmark process again. We’ve recently employed a new specialist arts in dance and drama which is something we were looking at as part of our Artsmark Gold journey. I’m looking forward to working together with her to aim for the Platinum. For us it’s a way of planning out the next two years of our Artsmark journey. But we want to sit on our Gold award for a bit and enjoy it first!