Artsmark Schools Supporting Arts Award

Published: 3rd November 2018

Artsmark Schools Supporting Arts Award

Supporting young people in achieving Arts Award or if your a teacher helping your school achieve Artsmark is really important. The first step is understanding the terms.

You may have seen them used interchangeably by people who aren’t actively involved in the process of becoming an Artsmark school or supporting the delivery of Arts Award. This can cause further confusion!

The Learning and Participation team shared Tracey Hutchinson a teacher at The Dales School’s perspective on Artsmark and Arts Award here.

So How Does Arts Award and Artsmark Differ?

The key difference is Artsmark encourages schools to think holistically about their school’s needs and how they deliver their creative curriculum, whilst Arts Awards are achieved by individual pupils.

If you are a South Tyneside school and you want us to share your story email Elizabeth Kane Learning Officer at

We’ll ask you to answer some questions and send over a photo that gives us a picture of the brilliant work you do. This will help us in supporting more people to understand.

The Arts at Priory Woods School

We talked to teacher Adam Featherstone at Priory Woods as a school that has embraced both Artsmark and Arts Award. Priory Woods is a 4-19 Creative Arts School and Arts College for pupils with SEN.  Adam shared how the school are extremely passionate about the arts as they bring out the best in their young people.

Young Artists Painting at Priory Woods (From the school's website)

Young Artists Painting at Priory Woods (From the school’s website)

Platinum Artsmark School

In summer of 2018 Priory Woods submitted their case study to Artsmark. The case study is the culmination of the whole Artsmark process. It evidences what schools identified as their focus, shows what they achieved and the impact of the work. Priory Wood’s case study focused on their work around the Shakespeare Festival for Schools. The school were elated to be awarded Platinum level.

Better Together Schools Working with Cultural Organisations and Artists

The Artsmark process involved the whole arts team and wider staff across the school as well as visiting arts practitioners.  Priory Woods highly values the children having the authentic experience of meeting artists, musicians and other creative people. Where appropriate the schools works collaboratively with cultural organisations. For instance they recently worked with the Captain Cook Museum to help children achieve their Explore Arts Awards.

The school has also worked with Tees Valley Music Service; TIN Arts and Sue Thornson on dance; The National Glass Centre and Sunderland Museum and Winder Gardens to widen their students’ range of creative experiences.

Adam writes,

Artsmark has opened up network opportunities for Priory Woods. It has allowed us to explore and validate external arts using the Quality Principles. We had many network opportunities with arts partnerships around the North East. It has helped us develop better project planning and communication with artists.

How Does Priory Woods Support Arts Award?

At Artsmark Platinum level schools have to show how they support Arts Award.

Every member of staff, whether directly involved in the creative arts or otherwise, are understanding and helpful in delivery if Arts Award. It is ran on rotation every 3 years in post 16, every year with a gifted and talented group in lower and every 3 years in upper. We do Arts Award across all areas of the school from Discover in Lower, Explore in Upper and Bronze in post 16.

Make Arts Award Personal

The school is an Arts Award Centre and have four trained Arts Award Advisers. As each of their students is unique the school approaches each child’s Arts Award journey differently. For example some may be able to do independent work, but for example some others may use symbols instead of writing.

Priory Woods intends to train more Advisers as this is obviously does take a little more time than might be found in other school settings. To find out more about Adviser training click here.

How We Deliver Arts Award

In Lower School Arts Award is ran with the Gifted and Talented children. In Upper School it is ran within the timetabled creative subject time.  Whilst the Lower school Arts Awards tend to focus on visual art the rest are based on children’s choice of creative option and typically cover art, drama, dance and music. Although Adam notes they have also had an Arts Award inspired by photography in the past.

Arts award is an important accreditation to our students. They enjoy the ownership and we can all use it to reflect on all the brilliant work that they do in school. It is accessible to our students and can be personalised to fit their needs.

Guitarist from Priory Woods School (Photo from school's website)

Guitarist from Priory Woods School (Photo from school’s website)

Arts Award Tips For Schools

  • If you plan to make Arts Award part of your school’s offer consider whether it would be good to get a train an Adviser in house. This could be a teacher or TA. You only need to train once. There are three levels Discover and Explore, Bronze and Silver and Gold.
  • Allocate plenty of time for delivery
  • Start with a small number of students to build your confidence and expertise
  • Talk to other schools/ arts agencies that have ran arts award, or perhaps even bring in an external agency to help with your first award.

At this point, The Customs House would like to signpost teachers across South Tyneside to our  learning programme many of our in school workshops and projects include Arts Award from Discover to Bronze,

If you work in a school and want more information about Artsmark contact The Forge.