Over the past two years, Taunton Chamber of Commerce member Spaeda has been supporting Somerset schools to further develop arts and cultural learning in their settings via the Artsmark SPARK scheme, funded by Real Ideas and Sound Foundation Somerset. The scheme has been a real success, with the 44 schools taking part receiving almost £60k of funding combined!
With the Artsmark journey at the heart of it, these schools are focusing on a range of priorities, such as increasing the range and quality of their arts, music and cultural provision, running Arts Award, CPD, development of the curriculum and inclusivity, and working with artists and cultural partners. In addition, with the challenges of the last couple of years, most schools also have a core focus on the wellbeing of their pupils and staff.
‘As a new school, we have been developing our whole school curriculum and feel that with the match funding we will be able to develop our art curriculum to engage the pupils, develop skills and inspire teachers’ planning. Given lockdown and the associated mental health impact this has had on our children, we believe that this is the ideal time for art to be at the forefront of our curriculum.’ ~ Northgate Primary School
The match funding* scheme sought to help schools to unlock ‘new funds’ within their setting – meaning money that wasn’t already allocated for arts or cultural activity such as pupil premium or PTA contributions – and by doing so create more varied and sustainable sources of funding and fundraising approaches going forward. It also covered the Artsmark registration fee that schools had already paid, allowing many to pursue this valuable national programme and creative standard award for the first time.
‘The match funding will allow us to begin our Artmark journey. This will allow us to implement an artistic framework across the school and further deepen the value of Art, Photography, Music and Drama. We will be able to further embed and develop creativity within our students and foster a sense of why the arts really matter/inherent value of these subjects.’ ~ Court Fields School
Spaeda, and SFS and other music partners, are providing dedicated resources and support to the schools along the way, including a suite of artist-led creative skills videos, CPD event and consultation, music support & provision, and Arts Award training bursaries. An Ambassador School Programme was also established by Spaeda, with three dedicated Artsmark schools leading on creative learning offering their ideas and inspiration to others.
So far via the scheme, 128 school staff have taken part in creative CPD. Plus, we have seen 26 new schools sign up to Artsmark, and two more renewing, taking the number of Somerset schools with Artsmark to 20%, which is ahead of the national average of 19%!
Although the Artsmark SPARK scheme has now closed, we will be continuing to support and celebrate the schools that are taking part, and look forward to sharing more of their learning and impact as the academic year goes on. If you are interested in pursuing Artsmark for your setting, you can read more / register for Artsmark directly here: https://www.artsmark.org.uk/
‘As Art Lead for the Redstart Learning Partnership (10 Primary schools) I’ve identified a need for the strategic leadership of this subject area including CPD for staff, targeted resources and greater engagement with local artists and the wider community. My aim is for our school to become a beacon for other schools within the Trust.’ ~ Castle Primary School