The First Day of Spring

One month into 2020 and a chance to take stock of the current Arts Award journey here at King's Worcester. (Follow us @KSWArtsAward)

Ok - I know not everyone counts 1st February as the first day of spring but many do and it makes a far more interesting title than “The First Day of February”!

The first day of spring 2020 for me was glorious. I sat with a coffee in the gallery cafe at the Royal Opera House gazing over Covent Garden on a crisp clear day. It was a chance to reflect on a very busy start to 2020 in the Arts Award Department...

The Autumn term at school had already been jam-packed, welcoming our new Bronze, Silver and Gold cohorts. Some projects had already taken place such as our Lower Years Christmas Show - a variety showcase for our Year 7 & 8s, many of whom were taking Bronze Arts Award and using it for Part A, run as their Unit 2 by those pupils taking Silver Arts Award with a Drama/Dance specialism. After a well-earned Christmas break, it was literally full-steam ahead on the very first day back. At the end of the school day, we loaded 50 of our Arts Award pupils on a coach and headed up to the Birmingham REP to see their production of Peter Pan.

From on Arts Award perspective, productions like this are gold dust (or even fairy dust)! The REP run an early bird discount scheme so for the last few years I have been booking ahead for the next year’s Arts Award cohort at a significantly reduced rate. Immediately, the trip is much more viable. They are great productions and, no matter what their specialism, there is something for any Arts Award candidate to research, review and reflect upon. It works at all levels so there is an amazing and vital social element to these trips with year groups from Year 7 - 12 coming together whether they are performers, visual artists, writers, etc. The rest of January has been dominated in our meeting groups by review sharings including Bronze and Silver Q&As and Gold blogging.

That first day of term may have been busy but the week itself was far from over. The working week continued on to Saturday as we were hosting our first ever Arts Award Open Network Event. As a Champion Centre, we have been keen to embrace our role as advocates for Arts Award. We have already hosted visitors from other schools to help them plan their own Arts Award offering and we realised we had an opportunity to widen that. With incredible support from Trinity and West Midlands Arts Connect, we opened our doors on the afternoon of Saturday 11th. Turnout was small, but these are early days - we were still very proud of being at the hub of some great new networks. Representatives from a training provider who were looking for inspiration for a qualification to work with their NEETs hooked up with the Director of OYAP Trust for advice and examples of good practice. The Worcestershire Poet Laureate also popped by to find out how she could help widen the Arts Award reach into the local world of creative writing and performance poetry. Some of our own students came in to get some valuable Gold planning done and various arts practitioners had a rare chance (and excuse) to simply have a cuppa and a chat!

January has also been used to get our moderation booked. We’re all set for May 20th! A May moderation visit is a key date each year for us. Our Gold Arts Award cohort complete their qualification in Year 12 and that May moderation ensures that they have their certification - and their UCAS points! - already in their pockets when they come back in Year 13 and start those UCAS applications. I’ve tried to steal a march when it comes to planning this year. Using the Trinity portal, I’ve been steadily saving our entrants’ names to avoid a lengthy, last-minute chore. I’ve entered over 70 names already...

We also staged our first Gold Arts Award Unit 2 leadership project of the current academic year this month. One of our dance candidates put together a charity dance showcase in aid of the Make a Wish Foundation. She recruited dancers from our extra-curricular dance clubs, choreographed a programme of themed dances and also took responsibility for teaching these to the groups. She negotiated the theatre hire with our Theatre Manager, designed posters and advertised the event, and recruited an army of minions from her classmates to act as front-of-house staff, comperes, bucket collectors, etc. She nearly sold out our 300 seat venue single-handedly and we are still waiting on a final total for the amount raised. A similar Gold Arts Award event last year, called Emotion in Motion, raised nearly £1,000 for the mental health charity BCAT so we hope the Make a Wish total is in similar territory!

...and then there’s the day job! The usual Drama Department cycle of lessons, clubs, productions, exams continues and that’s what brought me to London for the first day of Spring. Our GCSE and A Level Drama students left Worcester early on Friday morning. We toured backstage at the Royal Opera House, had our socks blown off by “Come From Away”, took part in a workshop with a Come From Away cast member at Pineapple Studios and saw the final matinee performance of Teenage Dick at the Donmar Warehouse. Half of our A Level group either earned their Gold Arts Award last year or are currently working towards it this year. All our GCSE Drama cohort took Bronze and most of them took Silver - a healthy proportion are looking forward to taking Gold next year alongside their A Levels. The arts feed the arts...

So, as the pupils enjoyed some well-earned free time shopping in Covent Garden on a beautiful Spring Saturday, I think I definitely earned that coffee and a breather. Welcome Spring...roll on Arts Award!!!

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Shara Parry

Shara Parry

I am Head of Drama and Theatre Studies at The King's School, Worcester. We are an Arts Award Champion Centre and I am the Arts Award Coordinator.

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