Blog: Artsmark - Why Apply Again?

10 November 2021

By Charlotte Jones - Curriculum Leader for the Creative Arts at Newminster Middle School

By Charlotte Jones - Curriculum Leader for the Creative Arts at Newminster Middle School

Newminster Middle School is part of the Three Rivers Learning Trust. It is a popular school situated in Morpeth, Northumberland, with a wide catchment area which includes the town of Morpeth and surrounding area. Newminster is part of the Morpeth Partnership of Schools; a group of schools at the heart of their local communities. 

Having worked to consolidate our Artsmark Gold status achieved in 2015, achieved the Platinum award in 2017 and then again in 2019, we have reapplied to continue our journey this year ... but why? 

There are so many benefits to the Artsmark Award I am only able to touch on a few here …

The Artsmark process helps to identify development areas and provides an opportunity for risk taking within the curriculum which can considerably enrich students’ individual learning paths. An example of this at Newminster is set design and making for productions, where students were encouraged to experiment and produce variations as part of their work. This encourages individuals to go outside their ‘comfort zone’ in a safe area and helps carry-over into other parts of the curriculum and school activities. 

Our own work before and since the pandemic has highlighted how important confidence building is in enabling students to participate to their full potential. Encouragement from peer leaders is a crucial component of the development process. In the music arena within the Morpeth Partnership of Schools some of our pupils are performing with the high school (KEVI) ensembles. This not only boosts personal skills’ development, but working with role models instils a sense of ownership in their individual learning process and goals. 

The Trinity Arts Awards also help raise aspirations for our students and in Bronze (KS3 currently) there are opportunities for pupils to work with arts practitioners and further education students studying the arts through workshops and projects. 

Not only do the students benefit from Artsmark, but it also provides a key CPD empowerment opportunity for our staff, which again is critical if we are to be successful in achieving our strategic aims. Arts Award training gives staff confidence in the arts. We have existing moderators trained in both Bronze, Silver, Discover and Explore. The efforts of the Three Rivers Learning Trust in CPD are also of considerable benefit in the training programme for non-specialist music and art teachers (cross phase learning). The use of digital technology (film, imovie and green screen) is important, with an emphasis on broadening musical artistic genres used in all learning activities.

Liaison meetings with feeder schools about Artsmark give rise to teaching and learning opportunities and shared support which contribute to the longer term goals as partner schools. After having to cancel (due to COVID) our ‘Morpeth’s One Big Performance’, an event designed to bring all Morpeth partnership schools together for a day of music, we are hoping to reorganise for the Spring or Summer term of this academic year.

Our liaison governor offers top-level support and a different business perspective for the arts within the Trust. She participates in learning walks, observes workshops, attends meetings and enjoys performances. Her feedback and observations are invaluable to the department’s development.

Confidence building, risk taking and personal development benefits of Artsmark continue to make a significant contribution to raising aspirations for both staff and students. We are building upon the work we have already done, and look forward to giving our students as many Creative Arts opportunities as possible, both in and out of the classroom.