West Hill Primary School has been awarded the prestigious Arts Council England Artsmark Gold Award three consecutive times. First, in June 2007, then in June 2010 and most recently in September 2019.

Managed by Arts Council England, Artsmark is a national award scheme which recognises schools with a high provision in the arts. The scheme encourages schools to consider the opportunities they offer in art, dance, drama and music. By gaining an Artsmark, a school shows its commitment to the wider development of young people and teachers and to raising the profile of the arts in the school and the local community.

We are delighted that the Arts Council continues to recognise West Hill Primary School’s stimulating and exciting arts curriculum. Our Statement of Commitment and follow up Case Study/Statement of Impact was worthy of a Gold Award for a number of reasons. The Arts Council’s comments were as follows:

‘West Hill Primary School set out a very clear focus for its Artsmark plan which revolved around giving children more of a say in planning and reflection of arts-based learning, more CPD for teachers to build arts capacity, and a stronger sense of embeddedness of the Arts across the curriculum. Children reported that they are engaged by their arts learning and enjoy having a say in what they do. The children have enjoyed taking ownership of their learning. Written feedback after your drumming days from staff and children confirm a feeling of unity and supportiveness within classes. Vulnerable pupils (SEN/D, adopted, PP) were very engaged and thrived during their sessions. You have offered a good range of CPD. Working alongside professionals, such as Katie Murray (dance teacher), Hannah and Allan (drumming artists), Paul Painter from Devon Music Education Hub, Debbie Kent (TRC/TRYC conductor), Felicity Shillingford (animation artist), Fiona Lovell (Double Elephant print artist) and others. Links with Exeter Area Arts presented the opportunity for West Hill to work with a master’s student from the University of Exeter. The focus topic of ‘holistic art education’ and how it is perceived by teachers gave rise to lengthy interview sessions and explored the importance of the Arts within your curriculum and how it supports your children’s personal confidence, mental health and  well-being as well as the potential to unlock creativity, talents, depths and excellence. Such benefits have seen an upturn in use of extracurricular arts offers such as the BSO Orchestra Project, School Choir, Teachers Rock Youth Choir, Christmas Cathedral performance, village Art Festival and uptake of new instruments.’

It is our aim to continue to develop our arts provision and extend the effects and influence of our Artsmark engagement further through activities, experiences and CPD that benefit both pupils and teachers in tangible ways. Furthermore, as we reflect on our practice over time and cement our partnerships with arts organisations and other providers we aim to develop the school’s capacity to champion this approach to education and share our experiences more widely.

The Artsmark Award demonstrates West Hill Primary School’s strong commitment to the arts. It also acknowledges the relationship the school has developed with the local community through arts activity. The arts are very important to us at West Hill Primary School and we shall continue to work within the Artsmark scheme to help us develop our provision further.