Well. Where to start really? What a journey. If I could sum Artsmark up in a word, it would certainly be journey. You may not know too much about Artsmark, so I will put a link below to the Artsmark website if you'd like to learn more, but it is the only creative quality standard for schools and education settings, accredited by Arts Council England. We are so proud to finally announce that, after nearly three years, we have achieved the Artsmark Silver Award.
The Arts Council said:
'You are positively increasing the emphasis on arts and culture and engaging with the Arts is having tangible results on pupils, staff and parental engagement.'
'All pupils access a consistent and relevant range of experiences in school which leads to showcasing within school and the immediate community.'
'Writing your Statement of Commitment during the pandemic was brave, and your dedication to arts for wellbeing, sharing and growing community spirit comes through in your descriptions of the bus shelter, Christmas song and outdoor trail for Holy Week projects.'
It is wonderful to have the recognition for the fantastic Arts work that is woven into the very fabric of who we are at Denby Free. I just wanted to take this opportunity to take you along the journey with us again...
Our journey started in early 2020, before the world changed a little. We were committed to raising the profile of the Arts in school and showcasing the fantastic work we already do. We set out on the journey with some other schools in our cluster and aimed to do so much collaborative work.
Then COVID 19 happened, Lockdown happened and our plans had to change. Suddenly, collaboration (in the way we were planning) had gone out of the window and we had to adapt. I wrote the Statement of Commitment during the summer Lockdown and was still determined to make the next few years arts-rich. The first way the arts impacted Lockdown, was through our staff collaborative video. We wanted a way to reach out to the children that we desperately missed and to connect our school community. It was a huge success and we went on to do lots more videos that raised morale and brought smiles to faces.
We also started to use the outside of the school to communicate with our community. The bus stop decoration was started in Lockdown, with the fabulous rainbow of hope, and has become a permanent feature of Denby Village thanks to Mrs Foulke's hard work and creativity. So many members of our community have told us how much joy it's given them and we are so proud of it.
During the numerous Lockdowns, we continued to reach out to our school community through the arts. We set challenges for families, competitions and even when we couldn't all come together in school, we worked on collaborative art projects together...but from afar! The stone snake was a collaborative art project that brought the community together. We invited people to paint a stone and add it onto 'Drake the Snake' outside school. We had over one hundred stones by the end of it!
Our Christian values are at the very heart of our school and we have always expressed these and celebrated different parts of the liturgical year through the arts. Throughout our Artsmark journey, this was heightened through events such as our Easter trails (2021 and 2022) in which the children experienced Holy Week through an outdoor arts experience, our Christmas and Easter performances and our many displays and creative R.E lessons.
We have always loved performing at Denby Free, and one of the most wonderful ways we showcase the talents of our amazing children is through plays, musicals and performances. The joy that is spread through our Christmas, Easter and end of year performances is magical. We see the value in developing children's confidence and self-esteem through performing and they've told us that being involved in these performances has transformed their self-belief. In fact, we've seen the impact that the arts has on mental health throughout our Artsmark journey and realised that the arts give our children a place to be themselves and feel less stressed.