Guest Blog: Artsmark provides a perfect platform

08 February 2017

Artsmark provides a perfect platform for North Tyneside Learning Trust schools to work together

By Kehri Ellis, Chief Executive, North Tyneside Learning Trust

North Tyneside Learning Trust is a collaborative partnership of 46 schools, working with employers, universities and colleges. It is supported by the local authority to improve education and life chances for children and young people across North Tyneside. The Trust was established in 2010 with 23 member schools. Membership has grown year on year and in 2012 our reach extended across the region when we began leading a science learning partnership and regional maths hub.

North Tyneside Learning Trust supports schools in a variety of ways. It employs a range of teaching lead specialists in a number of core curriculum areas including Maths, English, Science and ICT to provide direct support to schools to help strengthen teaching and learning. Our size and scale also enables us to broker lucrative partnerships and deals on a range of products and services which can then be extended to our schools. We offer a huge package of CPD opportunities for staff including weekly opportunities within schools to showcase areas of practice and share learning. Our grant funding enables our schools to support each other to secure improvements in areas such as teaching & learning, leadership and governance. We also have an annual awards programme for children and young people sponsored by business partners and we work with a huge range of employer partners to support careers education and interventions in schools.

One of our smallest trust schools, Rockcliffe First School, secured Artsmark platinum status. We recognised the valuable support this school could offer other schools on their Artsmark journey. Historically the Trust had led a number of very successful programmes to strengthen STEM activity, and although this was valued by schools, many began asking the trust to explore how it might support other areas of the curriculum including the arts. Artsmark provided a perfect platform to do this. Last year we embarked on a programme to enlist 10 of our schools on the Artsmark programme and were able to offer 50% towards the Artsmark fee.

Having schools participate in Artsmark together has huge benefits as they are able to share ideas and experiences, learn from each other and progress more effectively. We are now in the second year of the programme and 10 more schools have started their Artsmark journey, which will be enriched by the learning and expertise already developed within the Trust.

Our schools, participating in Artsmark, attend a development day at the start of the programme and this enables staff to make links between schools and benefit from peer support throughout the programme. Artsmark schools also host open day events for other Trust schools to enable staff to witness the impact of Artsmark and receive first-hand information on what's involved and how it can make a difference. Ultimately I would like to see all of our schools achieve Artsmark accreditation over time.