Could you first introduce yourselves for the reader
Hi, I am Nicole Sullivan, a secondary school drama teacher at Selby High School. I am also the Specialism Enrichment co-ordinator and have been in charge of the Arts Award delivery here for the last eight years.
Which Arts Award levels do you offer?
We offer Bronze to the whole of Year 7, running it for those who opt for it - which is usually between 50 and 80 students. This year, we are delivering Bronze through 4 drop down days where students are off timetabled lessons to work purely on their Arts Award. Silver is available to anyone wishing to build on their Bronze award; this is run as an extracurricular club.
What about the Arts Award appeals to your students?
Working outside curriculum time. The ability to be creative. The free choice to participate in any art form they are interested in and to develop knowledge and skills in the arts. Freedom to present their work how they wish, whether it be the creative inspiration work in Part C or the way they put together their Arts Award portfolio.
What Arts Award creative projects have your current and previous students done in groups?
We work hard to enable our students to choose a personalised journey, therefore students work on individual tasks and projects to suit their interests and abilities. Some choose to work in pairs or groups to deliver Part D as they have similar interests and ideas that work well together.
What kinds of things have you got in mind or organised for your future Arts Award students?
To ensure the 'Arts clubs' that students wish to attend are available. To enable staff CPD (Continuing Professional Development) training to run these additional clubs where necessary i.e. photography and textiles were very popular this year and in order to facilitate this two of our wonderful HLTA's (Higher Level Teaching Assistant) have stepped up to provide these clubs. One of whom is an experienced Arts Award leader, and involved in teaching this year's cohort, Sally Lewis has sought professional photography training in order to deliver a quality photography club to our students.
This year the way we run Arts Award has changed significantly. To begin with, when Arts Award itself began we ran it as an extracurricular lunch club, uptake was between 10 and 20 students a year. This was then developed to run within the curriculum once a fortnight, again for opted in students of between 50 and 80 participants. However, with ever changing curriculum needs this was no longer possible. So the drop down days have been introduced and, so far, with two days out of the four delivered, it is proving highly successful. Monitoring and evaluation of these days will be ongoing to ensure maximum success.
What are the greatest challenges for your students undertaking their Arts Awards?
For some it is the reviewing a live event element. Going to see a live performance/event is something that some of our students have never done before and don't easily have access to. The English department runs an annual theatre trip and there are other performances by Selby High that we encourage all Arts Award students to participate in if they can. If not, we have an aspiring music artist coming to perform at Selby High, this professional standard enables a concert like performance so that those who have been unable to access the other live events still have the review opportunity onsite.
What is the greatest benefit in both yourself delivering the Arts Award and for your students in undertaking it?
I've seen a wide variety of students undertake a range of projects. I've been amazed at their creativity and inspiration. Sometimes seeing these students in a totally different light and giving them the chance to really flourish. Students always get an enormous amount out of it, but I think the section that really pushes them is Part D. The pride and self-satisfaction they gain when they realise how capable they are; often this is the area most say they worried about but got the most out of.
How do you think what your students have accomplished in their awards will help them moving forward?
Students have demonstrated high levels of independence, motivation, self-management, teamwork, research and evaluation skills alongside developing in self-confidence. They have more freedom and choice to work on what interests them. Having experience of planning and delivering a session to others shows students what they really can do when they put their mind to it. These skills are invaluable as a learner and can pay dividends in all areas of school and home life.
What would you say to schools considering delivering the Arts Award?
We would definitely recommend it. Whether it be run through one big project which all students take part in, or with a focus on the individual like ourselves, the benefits for students are endless. It is an engaging, exciting, inspiring and positive experience that is inclusive of everyone. Students can see and feel their own personal progression and take ownership of their Arts Award.
- Images courtesy of Nicole Sullivan and Selby High School