New Bewerley Community School in Beeston has just been awarded the Platinum Artsmark rating for their provision of cultural education. And they are the only primary school in West Yorkshire to receive the highest award.
The Artsmark Award is a creative quality standard for schools, accredited by Arts Council England. It supports schools to develop and celebrate their commitment to arts and cultural education. The assessors commented that:
“There is outstanding, purposeful and reflective leadership of the Arts at The New Bewerley Community Primary School, and that there is a firm commitment to promoting the Arts both within and beyond your setting. Arts and culture are clearly embedded in your curriculum, and fundamental to your school’s values and ethos to ‘Include, Create and Perform’.”
The school works with In Harmony Opera North to provide all children with the opportunity to play a musical instrument and sing regularly. And there has been an increasing number of children successfully auditioning for a position on the Yorkshire Young Musician’s advanced extra-curricular programme.
They also work with other professional companies such as Northern Ballet and Wrongsemble. The children’s theatre company Wrongsemble worked in school to improve reading skills and increase pupils’ understanding and use of high level vocabulary through drama and art, with measurable effects on achievement.
The Nutcracker project in particular shows how arts and culture are embedded in the school. The pupil-led school Arts Council reviewed arts-based practice and fedback that children enjoyed dance. Together with the arts lead teacher, they pitched to the governors for funding, which they successfully gained and a 6-week project was developed consisting of weekly 2-hour ballet sessions with a pianist and dance artist from Northern Ballet.
In addition, pupils also interviewed a professional ballet dancer and watched ‘The Nutcracker’ production at Leeds Grand Theatre. This project was based on the story of ‘The Nutcracker’, which linked to the children’s writing, guided reading, music, French and geography back in the classroom. Parents commented that their child’s confidence had grown through the project, that they enjoyed the learning experience and that they now aspired to become a professional dancer.
The combination of children’s experiences, arts practice and core curricular learning had a positive impact on children’s success because of their interest, enjoyment, and every-growing confidence in their learning. In addition, 10% of children were spotted by Northern Ballet and received funded extra-curricular ballet lessons.
Commenting on the award, Headteacher Gary German said:
“I am delighted that the school has been recognised for providing exemplary arts provision. This is something the school has worked hard to achieve. Achieving the platinum level shows that arts are embedded into the school’s ethos and the children’s learning. The school’s motto is Include, Create, Perform.”