What goes on at... the Abbey Catholic Primary School?

The first interview with a 2017-2018 Arts Award Good Practice Centre, advisor, Rebecca Lonergan tells us what they did to get the accolade.

What goes on at... the Abbey Catholic Primary School?

My name is Rebecca Lonergan and I work as a Higher Level Teaching Assistant at the Abbey Catholic Primary School in Birmingham. Three years ago, I trained as a Bronze Advisor along with my colleague Jenny Marks. Following this we were joined by two further members of staff and all trained as Discover and Explore advisors. For the past two years we have offered Arts Award to pupils aged between 5 and 11 years. Over the last three years we have accredited 62 children across all levels.

Arts Award is so appealing to our students as they really enjoy the opportunity to express themselves creatively and have fun. It also enables them to try out new and exciting art forms as part of an after school club such as film and digital arts. Our pupils and parents are also delighted that they can receive a formal accreditation for their work through a scheme which offers progression as they move through school.

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  • A school play for the Shakespeare Schools Festival

Our students have experienced and participated in a wide and varied range of arts activities including:

  • Studying the work of Kandinsky using classical music – exploring abstract drawing and shape
  • Sketching, painting and 3D paper sculptures
  • Filmmaking – scripting, acting and directing and editing our own film which was screened at a local cinema
  • Cinema visits and film reviews
  • Attending a 'Blind Cinema' screening where students had to creatively audio describe a film they were watching
  • Participation in Shakespeare Schools Festival performing at 'The Old Rep' Theatre
  • Weekly Brass instrument lessons
  • Arts inspiration exhibition
  • Drama workshops planned and delivered to younger children

In the future, we plan to find ways of getting our Arts Award groups collaborating together, both creatively and also to provide our students with the opportunity to share their skills. We are also making links with local secondary schools to create a network that will enhance our offer and the variety of experiences we provide to our pupils. We plan to expand our Arts Award offer year on year as we believe that all children deserve the opportunity to experience quality arts provision.

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  • The Arts Award certificate ceremony

One of the greatest challenges our children face when undertaking Arts Award is the portfolio building, particularly for our youngest children.

The greatest benefit to us in delivering Arts Award is seeing the children's enjoyment and fostering and encouraging a love of the arts, which we believe will stay with them and have lasting benefits. We also find there are huge therapeutic benefits to arts work and this is beneficial to children's mental wellbeing. For students who do not feel that they are achieving academically it is a huge boost to their self-esteem to experience success.

Many of our students have moved on to Secondary School and feel that Arts Award has given them an excellent grounding in the arts which they continue to develop. The 'soft skills' that children develop through Arts Award such as presenting to others, communicating their ideas through different mediums will be hugely beneficial as they prepare for adulthood and careers. It also gives them the opportunity to express themselves and 'levels the playing field' for those students who may have additional needs. It also helps to widen our children's interests and experiences and gives them a taster of areas they may want to go on to study or participate in later on.

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  • Arts Award 'arts inspiration' marketplace event

If you are a school considering delivering Arts Award, we would say wholeheartedly: go for it! It is a valuable and worthwhile experience for both staff and pupils and the flexibility that comes with Arts Award means it can be adapted for any setting and any group of children.


  • All images courtesy of the Abbey Catholic Primary School, Birmingham

Author

Bhavesh Jadva

Bhavesh Jadva Voice Team

Former Media Editor on Voice and former Arts Award Editor on AAoV covering film, TV, music and comedy.

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