Riverbridge Primary: Artsmark has changed our curriculum for the better

Date Created: 23rd Jan 2019

Classroom project of indoor beach houses

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Words: Jo Shaw, Art and DT Lead, Riverbridge School, Staines

At Riverbridge Primary School, we are passionate about the value of arts education. As a staff, we are committed to the arts as a means of developing children’s creativity, self-confidence and social responsibility. Artsmark represented a fantastic opportunity to raise the profile of the arts within our school while developing our working partnerships within the community.

After networking with other Artsmark schools, we were inspired to plan the goals we hoped to achieve in the next year and beyond. Since then, with the support and guidance of Artswork, we have worked to embed the Artsmark Quality Principles within both our school curriculum and ethos. From writing our Statement of Commitment to achieving our Gold Artsmark, this has been an incredibly rewarding experience. It has transformed our arts provision for both current and future students. Here are just some examples of the changes we have made.

Striving for excellence and innovation

Through Artsmark, we set out to provide our pupils with access to exciting learning opportunities in a wider variety of arts and culture subjects, including film and digital media. The children elected student ‘Digital Leaders,’ who work alongside teachers to plan the digital curriculum and even teach computing sessions to younger students.

We have also developed relationships with a number of schools and local organisations to enhance our arts provision. For example, pupils recently took part in the Primary Robins singing concert in partnership with Grange Park Opera and enjoyed interactive workshops from the Freshwater Theatre Company.

Being authentic

In order to exemplify artforms in authentic ways, we have increased the opportunities we offer children to view and perform live art. For example, children performed in the Spelthorne Music Festival and sang at the Spelthorne Singing Picnic at Kempton Park. Students also participated in the ‘Voice in a Million’ singing concert at Wembley arena.

We now also ensure that all students have the experience of visiting a gallery. Last year, students from Nursery to Year 6 were given the opportunity to create their own artwork to be displayed in an in-school art gallery for their parents and peers. Feedback from parents indicated the pride their children felt in showcasing their efforts.

Being exciting, inspiring and engaging

After beginning our Artsmark journey, we reviewed our visits and trips, hoping to provide children with a wider breadth of inspiring, real-world arts and culture opportunities. Children in Year 4 now attend an annual residential trip to the Rise Up Festival; this year, they experienced samba drumming and were taught how to make wire sculptures. Year 6 children travelled to Bristol, where they visited museums and went on a walking tour of street art around the city. We also provide many well-attended arts clubs, including choir, dance, rock band, performing arts, film and debate.

Our commitment to incorporating creativity, awe and wonder in our curriculum is also demonstrated by the Lumen Learning Trust’s new working space called the Lighthouse Suite. This includes rooms themed around the beach where children experience learning in a new environment, without traditional desks and chairs. There is also a Wonder Room, filled with curious objects to inspire exciting learning experiences and stimulate creative thought.

Ensuring a positive and inclusive experience

We now foster participatory work through more whole-school projects. Recently, every child in the school was given a pebble to paint their own unique design on. Each stone was then placed within the school garden, connecting children with their school space.

Pupils across the school also collaborated on a junk percussion workshop. Children from Nursery to Year 6 used their creative skills to design and make their own instruments out of recycled materials. They then performed music together. This experience has had a positive impact on children’s engagement in music across the school.

Actively involving children and young people

Students of all ages are now involved in the planning and delivery of our arts and culture curriculum. We established a ‘Gifted and Talented Arts Council’, members of which help to plan arts experiences, such as choosing visiting artists.

Furthermore, we provide opportunities for pupils to experience working alongside people from arts and culture industries. For example, children from Years 5 and 6 recently went on a trip to London Square Construction Site, where they participated in an architectural competition. Students also have regular visits from authors and illustrators, who share their work and experiences from their careers in the arts.

Enabling personal progression

Since beginning Artsmark, we have redesigned our curriculum so that it includes more meaningful links to arts and culture. We now have an arts and culture curriculum focus each term, around which all learning is themed. Each topic concludes with a showcase event, where parents are invited into the classroom to share their child’s learning. We also ensure personal progression for pupils by providing exclusive enrichment opportunities, including skills workshops in film, writing and art.

Developing belonging and ownership

Students’ accomplishments in art are now consistently displayed within classrooms and communal spaces around the school. This gives the children a sense of ownership over their school environment. We have also created a ‘DT space,’ investing in display cabinets to showcase 3D work.

Artsmark has also prompted us to further involve parents in arts provision. We now have parent volunteers who conduct workshops, including in Indian Dance and Islamic Art. Furthermore, parents have used their own skills in embroidery, appliqué and stencilling to create ‘story sacks’ to inspire children to read.

You can find out more about Artsmark and getting your school involved here.

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Artsmark South East Bridge

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