A record number of schools in the North East have achieved an Artsmark level and three schools in Morpeth have achieved the top award.
For the culmination of Artsmark Celebration Week, 16 schools in the region were granted Artsmark status – the creative quality standard for schools, accredited by Arts Council England.
Recognised by Ofsted, it demonstrates that a school champions and delivers high-quality arts, helping to unlock the potential of children and young people by increasing their knowledge, skills and understanding of the arts in its broadest context.
Chantry and Newminster Middle Schools and Technology Colleges and Stobhillgate First School have been on the programme for a number of years and they have now joined the select few platinum award recipients in the North East.
The middle schools have a thriving curriculum in music, art, drama and dance.
As well as the joint choir and joint musicals, some pupils have learned to play the steel pans and participated in djembe drumming workshops, while a samba band has performed at occasions such as the Northumberland School Games.
An ARTiculate project has taken place with the Laing Art Gallery and other major activities have included a dance for Comic Relief and being part of the sign2sing event.
The Artsmark panel pointed to the commitment to arts and cultural education at both school and governing-body level, together with clear management, including collaboration and sharing with other schools.
Liz Kinninment, Newminster head of school, said on behalf of both schools: “A huge thank-you to all the staff who have worked so hard in our schools to provide the opportunities for our students, leading to these awards.
“The engagement, enthusiasm and commitment of the students are what allows all of the creative arts events to be such a success and we continue to go from strength to strength.”
Charlotte Jones, head of creative arts across the two middle schools, has co-ordinated progress in the Artsmark journey.
She said: “I am so delighted for all our students and for the big team that has helped them to get us to Artsmark platinum.
“This massive achievement would not have been possible without the support of staff, parents and carers, governors and The Three Rivers Learning Trust.
“The partnerships that we have been able to build with the local community, together with a range of local, regional and national organisations, have also been essential in our journey.”
Stobhillgate First School’s dedication to music, drama, dance, and art is shown in the range of activities it provides.
This includes an introduction to musical instruments and trying different styles of art and dance.
The Artsmark panel made the following comment about its submission: ‘The panel recognises your commitment to a creative curriculum that ensures memorable learning opportunities for pupils and supports a love for learning.
‘A rich arts and cultural offer is evidenced and the panel noted the progress against development needs in dance provision through a partnership with Bare Toed Dance Company.
‘The leadership role of your headteacher (Neil Richmond) was noted as a particular highlight of your submission.
‘The panel looks forward to seeing how you further develop pupil voice activities and how your work as part of a Local Cultural Education Partnership develops over time.’
The latest set of awards has increased the number of Artsmark levelled schools in the North East to 25.
They have been supported by Culture Bridge North East and The Forge, which work together to deliver the programme in the region.
Helen Green, area manager and Artsmark lead for Culture Bridge North East, said: “We’re proud to be celebrating a record number of schools gaining Artsmark status in the region.
“This level of success shows how much schools recognise the positive impact arts and cultural education has on children and young people.”