The Friary School are celebrating after receiving a prestigious Gold Artsmark Award in a momentous year for the programme as it celebrates 20 years of arts, culture and creativity in schools. 

The Artsmark Award is the only creative quality standard for schools, accredited by Arts Council England. It supports schools to develop and celebrate arts and cultural education, putting creativity and wellbeing at the heart of the curriculum. Artsmark ensures every young person can be creative and access a diverse, high-quality cultural education. 

In order to achieve our Artsmark Award, we have continued to develop our arts and culture provision to embed a broad and ambitious curriculum. This was achieved by creating an overall plan that was committed to and delivered across the whole school.  

 The Artsmark assessor was highly impressed in our provision and offered a full commendation:

 ‘The Friary School has done well to consolidate and strengthen its approach to the Arts during a period of disruption through COVID lockdown. To some extent the lockdowns forced further reflection about how to achieve the usual outcomes under new constraints, and this meant your Arts provision became more embedded in the whole-school curriculum. All staff members are more aware of the opportunities that are apparent when the Arts are integrated in their subject. You achieved this through CPD and have committed to continue to grow awareness and confidence throughout your Multi-School Trust. Your range of offer has strengthened. Film Studies and Creative Digital Media Studies have been introduced for GCSE and ALevel, giving further opportunities in different sectors of the arts. Your tutor programme and Character Award, provide non-curricular outlets for students to showcase their creativity. From lockdown inspired postcards of their COVID experiences to raising awareness of the White Ribbon charity for domestic violence, you have ensured individual expression through the Arts is becoming embedded as part of the fabric of your school. While COVID interrupted the usual practice of welcoming arts partners to help co-deliver learning opportunities, you are about to return to that, and the RSC is among the organisations you will be working with. As you continue it will be interesting to hear how the resumption of links to arts partners influences your own practice and how you share your philosophy of approach across your MST and more broadly.’

Elsewhere, Dr Darren Henley OBE, Chief Executive of the Arts Council, said: “I would like to congratulate The Friary School on their Artsmark Award. Becoming an Artsmark school demonstrates that through offering a broad, ambitious, and creative curriculum, every pupil can develop character and resilience, increasing their knowledge, curiosity and skills that will remain with them through to adult life.”

On receiving the award, Matt Allman, Headteacher, said: “We’re extremely proud of achieving our Artsmark Gold Award. We are committed to delivering a high-quality arts and cultural education and we look forward to continue to grow with Artsmark. This award sits alongside out top-rated Internet 360 Degree Safety Award and our Holocaust Beacon School Status and reflects our desire to test ourselves against national benchmarks in all we do. Certainly, our curriculum is the bedrock of what we offer as a school, and there is always more to do, but we know the more we can get that right the more happy and successful our students will be.”  

You can learn more about the Artsmark Gold Award here.