Respect Everyone #MyArtsAward

Published: 8th February 2018

In 2017 The Customs House began a partnership with Historic England. Historic England look after the historic environment. They provide expert advice and help people protect and care for their heritage., They help the public, including children and young people, enjoy and understand their heritage.

Elizabeth Kane Learning Officer shares her experience of developing partnerships to include Arts Award with Historic England…

Respect Everyone

Shared Priorities

Our partnership with Historic England came out of a meeting with Viki Angel Local Heritage Education Manager (North East). We shared our organisations priorities. Viki oversees the Heritage Schools programme for the North East. Heritage Schools was developed in response to the government report on cultural education in England, our Heritage Schools programme aims to help school children develop an understanding of their local heritage and its significance. Viki was keen to engage more schools in South Tyneside. The Customs House wanted to help schools think about their cultural learning offer in the widest sense.

Our First Year Working Together

In year one, our partnership involved running a CPD day for Primary school teachers and helping to provide grants for heritage education projects in two schools. This was a competitive process and grants were awarded to Westoe Crown Primary and Jarrow Cross.

Just to give you an idea of what this involved let’s focus on Westoe Crown’s project. Class teacher Lea Dobson came to a teachers’ heritage skills workshop and walk at The Customs House. This was led by staff from Historic England and local historian and former editor of The Gazette Janis Blower.

Following this training, Westoe Crown Primary successfully applied for funding to complete a project about their mining heritage. Four research teams from year 3, 4, 5 and 6 each worked researching a topic ‘What is Coal?’, ‘Mining Tools’, ‘Life for Workers and their Families’ and ‘Westoe Crown Colliery’s  History’.  Children met with former miners who shared knowledge about the colliery.

The project culminated in a special sharing day and installation of a new heritage information board for visitors to enjoy. We also repeated the heritage walk with all the teaching staff from Westoe Crown to make sure the training benefited the whole school community. From The Customs House point of view we really wanted to repeat this model but importantly wanted to include opportunities for young people to complete Arts Award.

We loved working with Lea at Westoe Crown she was so committed to helping the children understand their own heritage

Embedding Arts Award

Meeting together to talk about what went well and in what direction we wanted to go it became clear that we both (Historic England and The Customs House) valued the opportunities for young people to achieve an entry level certificate and increase their understanding of their cultural heritage.

Arts Award would mean we’d capture really high quality evidence of what the children learned and enjoyed. #MyArtsAward

We have now embedded Arts Award in our planning. We are running CPD at The Customs House targeted at South Tyneside Primary teachers on Monday 19th Feb (for further details or to book visit

Teachers can attend free CPD where they will find out about the history of protest and power in South Tyneside linked to the Mill Dam race riots, Jarrow Crusade and National Miners’ Strike with speakers from Journey to Justice and the local history collection at The Word.

Together, we have recruited three primary school partners. We are looking for two further partner schools (drawn from those who attend the CPD).These schools will each receive a full day working with Elizabeth to explore their local heritage and complete a Discover Arts Award.

Our Power and Protest Discover in a Day

In early January I delivered my first Heritage-Arts day with a mixed Year 3/4 class from Dunn Street Primary. It was really exciting to deliver such a challenging project. The children were fascinated and enjoyed exploring their local heritage.

In the morning we looked at photographs and artworks. We explored what we meant by protest and thought about the concept of power. We found out about the work by contemporary artist and arts-education advocate Bob and Roberta Smith. Children recorded what they discovered. As a last task before lunch the children generated protest slogans about the issues they cared about.

In the afternoon the children worked in pairs to create their own protest signs. Most had never used oil pastels and hadn’t worked at a larger scale (A2). For part C, the young artists shared what they had learned collecting feedback from other class members. I am yet to assess the children’s portfolios but I am confident they will have achieved a pass and look forward to delivering with more schools.

As Arts Award is about putting children at the centre of their own creative journey I think we should round things off with some of their feedback.

I enjoyed…

“This day because I learned about an artist.”       “People listening to my ideas.”

“I enjoyed when we wrote our protest words.” “Today because I got to make art till home time.”

“Doing a protest poster with my partner. I worked as part of a team.”    “Choosing the colours”