Pupils at five North East schools are celebrating this week as they received prestigious Artsmark Awards, recognising the schools’ commitment to the arts, culture and creativity.
Brunton First School in Gosforth, The Drive Community School in Gateshead and Whitehouse Primary School in Stockton all received Gold Artsmark Awards, while Richardson Dees Primary School in North Tyneside and East Boldon Junior School each received a Silver Artsmark Award.
Creative projects at the schools ranged from pupils at Brunton First School designing and painting two Snowdog sculptures for the Great North Snowdogs trail, through to a drama partnership with Northern Stage for students at The Drive Community School.
Liz Bamber from Brunton First School in Gosforth, said: “Our Artsmark journey has enriched our curriculum, stimulated teaching that has inspired and enthused our children, helped our pupils develop their artistic voice and enabled teachers to develop new skills in delivering the arts and visual literacy.”
The two Snowdogs decorated by students at Brunton First School were called Peace and Sunshine and they went on show at The Biscuit Factory. They were decorated with motifs created by the students, showing what makes them happy after feeling sad. Pupils also took part in a whole-school creative curriculum inspired by the work of The Pitmen Painters, a group of Ashington miners who achieved worldwide recognition through their artwork.
At The Drive Community School in Gateshead, year four and five students worked with staff from Northern Stage in Newcastle to create a script and final performance about the great fire of Gateshead. Visits to Northern Stage gave students the opportunity to rehearse in a real theatre environment.
Louise Gallagher from The Drive Community School in Gateshead, said: “Pupils, teachers and governors at The Drive are proud to have achieved Artsmark Gold as it represents our dedication to the arts. Pupils have really enjoyed taking part in drama activities in partnership with Northern Stage and their writing skills have improved as a result. We, as a school, see the importance of the arts in children’s development and recognise that children are able to learn successfully in all areas of the curriculum through the arts.”
Artsmark is a quality standard for schools, accredited by Arts Council England. It provides a clear framework for teachers to plan, develop and evaluate arts, culture and creativity across the curriculum.
Schools in the North East are supported to achieve Artsmark by Culture Bridge North East and The Forge, which work together to deliver the Artsmark programme in the region. This includes providing advice, practical teaching resources and introductions to leading cultural organisations in the area.
Elvie Thompson from Culture Bridge North East said: “All children in the North East should have access to excellent cultural opportunities and all five of these schools have demonstrated a fantastic commitment to bringing art, culture and creativity into the classroom for their pupils.”