Pupils at Cragside Primary School, Newcastle and Newminster Middle School, Morpeth have taken part in the Education Arts Festival 2021, producing some fantastic pieces of work, as well as sharing them on Twitter which you can follow at #EduArtsFest. Alongside this, both schools have used the creative arts to promote student wellbeing throughout the past year during the pandemic.
Cragside Primary School
At Cragside Primary, arts and culture is at the heart of everything we do. We understand the importance of arts subjects as a means of self-expression and creativity whilst also being vital in the development of critical thinking and the ability to interpret the world around us.
Recently, we took part in the Festival of School and College Arts using the hashtag #EduArtsfest. This was an opportunity for us to showcase our children’s fantastic work. This included textiles, sculpture and printing as well as a range of musical activities. To follow is a snapshot of some of the work we shared during the festival:
Year 6 are currently working with music specialist, Rob Kitchen, to develop their understanding of Samba music. They will lead a procession at Cragside Carnival which is an event for children and families in the penultimate week of the summer term. It is also hope that with their new-found skills, they will be able to lead some outdoors Samba workshops for the younger children.
These are some fantastic examples of clay work that the older children have created using a range of coiling techniques. Oil pastels were used to create a resist then watercolours applied.
Children in lower Key Stage 2 have been super busy honing their textiles skills. They have also worked hard to create form through careful use of light and shade.
The youngest children have created some eye-catching collage work and have started to develop their colour-mixing skills too.
Year 5 have been studying Neil Gaiman’s book, ‘The Wolves in The Walls’. They responded to the text by creating some large-scale collage pieces which are simply stunning – well done everyone!
The school are also very excited at the moment because Year 6 have just started their photography project with freelance photographer Lindsay Duncanson. During the 6-week project, the children will be introduced to photography as an art-form. As the project continues, the children will learn that photography can be used to stimulate imagination and evoke differing responses from the audience. They will also be involved in evaluating their work and that of their peers as well as curating an exhibition of their photographs. Here are some photos taken during the children’s first session with Lindsay.
They are particularly looking forward to ‘arts’ week in school this year which has a carnival theme. Circus Central will be running circus skills workshops; there will be Latin dance classes; Samba drumming lessons and much more! Meze Mundo, a world music street band, will also perform. We can’t wait to see it!
Newminster Middle School
The strong partnerships built with feeder schools have allowed budding artists of all kinds to experience a seamless experiential journey. These partnerships also encourage pupils to follow their own personal Arts Award journeys.
Newminster uses a combination of Arts Awards and Artsmark to unite the school community through the medium of the Arts. The Artsmark award structure has helped the school to build stronger external partnerships with a very diverse range of organisations. These links are richly supplementing skills, knowledge and experience thereby strengthening our internal arts offer. Students are offered the opportunity to take part in Discover, Explore and Bronze Arts Award projects during their time at the school.
Arts Award projects are offering a growing number of opportunities to students. Competition entries, visits to cultural venues and working with people from the creative industries, have all helped efforts to raise individual self-esteem and aspiration, contributing to the core values of creativity, achievement, co-operation, respect and resilience within the school. As Jill Woolley, Deputy Headteacher at Newminster Middle School says: “The Bronze Arts Award provides a structure with many benefits for our young students. They get to apply their creative skills within a wide range of purposeful contexts, reflect upon their progress and share ideas with others. Opportunities have included working with artists and exhibiting their artwork through the Laing Art Gallery ‘ARTiculate’ project, designing and making backdrops for school shows and following their own learning path to develop new skills. Their resilience and visual literacy skills really develop over the year, aided by peer support and input from a range of creative professionals.”
Working with a wide range of organisations, both locally and nationally and have been able to gather momentum with a series of recurring arts events such as Children in Need and Comic Relief; supplemented by new ones, this year they are adding Captain Tom 100. The yearly charity Sign2Sing event has been formative for pupils in an additional way by helping them to learn to sing and use Makaton sign language.
This year has been particularly challenging to deliver the level of arts opportunities and education previously. Approaching September 2020, it became clear to the school that the Health and Wellbeing of the community should be at the heart of all activities this year in order to support students and staff through the pandemic and the creative arts seemed the perfect outlet to provide these opportunities for the school.
One of those opportunities that all Newminster Middle School pupils have taken part in this year has been ‘The Lion King Experience’.‘The Lion King Experience’ – is an immersive, project-based exploration of theatre. Music curriculum teaching and Bronze Arts Award student activities are being embedded into this journey. It is an inclusive whole school project culminating in a filmed and live streamed production of ‘The Lion King’, giving everyone a sense of community and belonging which ties in with the message of the story.
Other whole school arts activities offering distraction from the wider world and giving staff and students something to look forward to, but above all putting smiles on faces, have included; a Pudsey Art Show for Children in Need, 100 Art Challenge for #CaptainTom100, Newminster Angel Project, Lockdown Limerick Book for Comic Relief, A Fairy Door Hunt around the school grounds for World Book Day, participation in Music Partnership North’s Choir for Crisis and Big Gig 2021.
In March 2021, after the second National Lockdown, Newminster‘ hit the ground running,’ by entering a National Poetry Performance Competition -’Poetry By Heart’- led by the KS3 English team. All pupils across KS2 and KS3 had the opportunity to choose from a selection of poetry, then learn and deliver it in their own unique way, embracing the musicality of language and the power of the voice.
Students engaged with specially commissioned, live ‘Poetry by Heart’ lessons, focussing on poetry delivery and the tricks for committing poetry to memory. Over the remaining weeks of the Spring Term, pupils were able to learn and video their performances. This competition provided an excellent vehicle for Oracy and it has awakened pupils to the power and versatility of their voice, something that will continue to be built on. A Year 6 Newminster pupil was selected as one of the 50 finalists; a fantastic achievement.The final will be held on 19th July at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, in London.
The positive student benefits and impacts from these arts events have helped keep pupils happy and safe at school and at home during Lockdown. The activities have also been met with huge team enthusiasm and spirit by staff who, working within strict guidelines, have risen to all the challenges and worked so hard to bring the schools plans from drawing board to reality. The coming together as a school community, boost to morale and sense of wellbeing that goes with it, are a testament to the benefits that the creative arts can offer.