Blog - Focus on Arts Award: Making the most of Arts Award

17 May 2017

Making the most of Arts Award

Photo: Pupils at Boldon School

Blog by Elizabeth Kane, learning officer, The Customs House

I recently worked with Boldon School ensuring every young person in year seven got the most out of their Arts Award.

Boldon School wanted a project which focused on building communication, creativity and team working skills. In its first year, the project was a relatively straight forward Discover in a Day Arts Award inspired by Japanese Noh Theatre. Noh Theatre reflects the artistic programme at The Customs House including performing arts, visual arts, storytelling and music. This was the first time Boldon School had delivered Arts Award.

Feedback from children and parents was very positive. We considered the possibility of delivering an Explore Arts Award. However, it was decided that budget wouldn’t allow all the children to benefit. This didn’t sit well with the idea of the project building a positive team spirit across the whole year group. Instead Michelle Hawronskyj, head of the creative faculty, at Boldon School, proposed widening the project remit, thinking about creativity across the curriculum with Discover Arts Award being one of the outcomes.

Every child took part in a mask making workshop and was able to choose from options including:

  • The science of tea making.
  • Sumo wrestling obstacle courses with PE.
  • Writing Haikus in English.
  • Origami structures exploring geometry in maths.
  • Making sushi in food technology.
  • Making fabric banners in textiles.
  • Forming an ensemble in music to play traditional Japanese court music.
  • Counting in modern foreign languages.

I adapted a bespoke Discover Arts Award template log book, created from the previous year. This time the share section included questions derived for the ACE quality principles. My view is that the Arts Award log book (or portfolio) isn’t the art form, it’s a tool to collect evidence, so it doesn’t need to be anything too fancy.

The project consisted of the following sessions:

  • an assembly
  • two days of workshops led by myself and other staff members
  • a sharing event with families.
  • a celebration assembly where certificates were awarded

We planned workshops together, Michelle worked with other departments to make sure Japanese culture and creativity were embedded in their lessons and worked out where staff and students should be.

Michelle explains about the impact of the project: “The impact of the cross curricular Arts Award project continues to enhance our student’s development at Boldon School. Students worked with children outside their classes or tutor groups developing their sense of community. Faculties came together to share teaching and learning ideas and experiences, planning high quality lessons.

“63 parents visited the school theatre to watch the children’s presentation about their Arts Award project. Parent’s feedback included that they loved seeing what their child had worked on at secondary school. Students are proud to say they have achieved their Arts Award - 1 cross curricular project, a much wider positive effect on our young people.”

Working with Michelle and Boldon School has been a wonderful experience. Michelle’s idea to get the whole school involved was inspired. They have an increased awareness of Arts Award and it was brilliant having teachers, from across all departments, working with me for the mask workshop and devising their own workshops inspired by another culture. It is also so fantastic to have the whole of year seven share what they had learned about Japan with their families. I’ve seen such events happen more commonly in primary schools but lots of parents, grandparents, siblings and carers made it. I hope we continue working together. And I hope I can take some of the lessons I’ve learned from this partnership out to more schools.

To find out more about Arts Award visit: