Artsmark Case Study: Engaging students

Zoe Hyman, Art & E-Safety Lead at Parkfield Primary School, tells us how they've engaged students in the Artsmark process

9 June 2020

Image credit: Parkfield Primary School via Twitter

Parkfield Primary School is a mixed primary school in Barnet who achieved Artsmark Silver in 2019. Below, Art & E-Safety Lead, Zoe Hyman, tells us about their Artsmark journey and how they've found the process.

Why did you register for Artsmark?

We registered for the Artsmark as, having already started to embed a creative curriculum, we wanted to further our connections with outside agencies within the arts.

Why are the arts important to you as a school?

As a school where the majority of students having English as an additional language, we have seen how a creative curriculum and the children’s exposure to the arts has had a huge impact on their confidence, progress in core subjects, and wellbeing.

What did you find useful about the process?

The process of our Artsmark journey enabled us to review the impact of the arts on our children, staff and their families. Through pupil voice, parent feedback and response from staff we could evaluate the impact of what we were doing and then choose whether to continue or not with a particular program of study. Throughout the Artsmark journey we trialled a project with The National Theatre with Year 5. The positive feedback both from The National Theatre and our children, parents and teachers was huge. As a result, we have continued to grow our relationship with the National Theatre, and projects have now taken place across KS1 and KS2.

Artsmark is about celebrating what you’re doing well and addressing the challenges and gaps in your arts provision. What did you find to celebrate?

We have celebrated how our arts-based curriculum has built a reputation and opened up new opportunities. For example, we have developed several partnerships which continue to enrich the children’s learning. We now have a strong relationship with artsdepot in north Finchley and are engaging with the Haringey Local Cultural Education Partnership.

Our teachers and teaching assistants have initiated further ideas to use the resources of the galleries and groups we work with. Through the Erasmus programme, we have been working with schools in Spain, hosting visits and seeing the impact our approach to the creative curriculum has had on them.

And what challenges or gaps did you want to address?

One of the challenges we wanted to address was how we could to continue raising the profile and importance of the arts with our parent community.

How did you get everyone involved?

All teachers are committed to our creative curriculum and the principle of having ‘wow’ moments to inspire children through the arts. All staff share a vision of our curriculum and all advocate for their subject, and teachers are supported by arts leaders in making links to other subjects. Whole school events with different foundation subjects as a driver have brought the children together and engaged parents in understanding and enjoying how learning is planned.

I also led INSETs to get the entire school staff involved. Each staff member – including teachers and teaching assistants – were involved in assessing the impact that their curriculum planning and delivery was having on the children, themselves, and the parents.

What different support and opportunities did you access to deal with those challenges and make progress? Did anything unexpected happen along the way?

There were many support opportunities led by A New Direction including Artsmark meetings and one-to-one telephone conversations with an Artsmark advisor. I found the telephone support calls extremely useful. I had a fantastic advisor who understood the status of our school and was able to guide me on the next steps to take in order to further support the evidence that we had for our Case Study.

How did you get the children involved? What did the award mean for them? What did it mean for your families and wider community?

The children were involved throughout this process, and continue to be, as they are learning, experiencing and developing through the embedded creative curriculum that our school offers.

Through our curriculum floorbooks, updated every half term by each class, we showcase the creativity carried out across the arts. The children are able to reflect on their involvement and give feedback on the impact their experience has had, strengthening pupil voice across the school. Cultural capital is integral to the wellbeing of our children, who would not necessarily have the opportunity to experience the arts outside Parkfield Primary. Artsmark was a huge achievement for our children.

Example of a curriculum floorbook

What advice would you give other schools thinking about registering for Artsmark?

Registering for the Artsmark will provide the staff in your school with CPD opportunities to further develop subject leaders’ roles and their links to the arts. It will open up opportunities to work with outside agencies and, if you aren’t already, get further involved with your local Arts Hub. The opportunities that stem from the award continue to embed the importance of arts and culture within our school community.

A New Direction supports London schools throughout their Artsmark journey, offering expert guidance, advice and training.

Find out more

Read more Artsmark Case studies

Read an Artsmark coronavirus update from Arts Council England here.