Supporting schools on the Artsmark journey

February 14, 2017

We kicked of our first Collaborative Learning session of 2017 by exploring Artsmark and opportunities for cultural organisations and arts practitioners to support schools on the Artsmark journey.

Speakers from Arts Council England and A New Direction joined East London cultural partners at Stratford Circus Arts Centre for an afternoon of discussion and insight into the Artsmark process for schools and opportunities for cultural organisations to support them.

Artsmark is Arts Council England’s flagship programme for schools that helps them to plan, deliver and evaluate quality arts and culture provision in schools. The new Artsmark was designed by schools and relaunched in 2015 by Arts Council England – providing an excellent way for schools to ensure that arts and culture play a vital role in whole school improvement.

East London boroughs such as Barking & Dagenham and Newham have some of the highest number of schools signed up to the new Artsmark in London, and with the launch our Creative Schools Artsmark offer for East London schools for 2017/18, cultural partners have a great opportunity to test out how they can support schools to fulfill their Artsmark ambitions.

Artsmark is…

  • Refreshed!  Artsmark was relaunched in 2015 and was designed by schools for schools to make it more forward looking and relevant to the changing educational landscape.
  • Awarded to schools by Arts Council England and recognised nationwide as an accreditation of quality arts provision in schools.
  • A brilliant framework for schools to review and develop their offer to ensure that arts and culture play a vital role in whole school improvement.

Over 1,000,000 young people have now been engaged through Artsmark Schools across the country since the 2015 relaunch, providing a wide range of models of how schools are delivering their Artsmark ambitions.

Find out more about how Artsmark works and read insights from The Bridge School on attaining Artsmark Platinum.

What do schools need help with?

The Artsmark process that schools undergo can benefit cultural organisations by helping to understand what areas and improvement needs a school is keen to support.

As part of the Artsmark journey a school will complete a Statement of Commitment, which becomes their key arts planning document and will tie arts provision to overarching aims in the School’s strategy – as evidenced in School Improvement or Development plans.

For arts organisations, finding out if a schools is undertaking Artsmark can help shape and align their offer with core school priorities.

A New Direction and Arts Council England shared some of the critical areas of support emerging from schools across the country:

  • Teacher CPD that includes longer term development opportunities for staff
  • Support for digital arts and applying tech creatively in the classroom including; music tech, film, and animation
  • Help to raise standards across the school and deliver the curriculum in creative ways
  • Advice around fundraising including co-fundraising for projects
  • Opportunities to connect pupils with their local area
  • Creative perspectives that can support pupil resilience.

Opportunities for cultural organisations

Many cultural organisations are well placed to support schools with expertise and knowledge around the following areas:

  • Pupil Voice initiatives in schools and student involvement in decision making
  • Quality of cultural activities including impact evaluation approaches
  • Delivering creative approaches to STEM subjects
  • Career progression opportunities and projects that support employment and skills development
  • Working with non-mainstream schools including SEND and PRU settings on the Artsmark journey.

What can you do?

Some of the ways your organisation can support schools doing an Artsmark:

  • Provide advice and feedback for schools planning their Artsmark journey
  • Facilitate networks and partnerships including: hosting Artsmark events, joining a schools advisory board and supporting local consortia working
  • Deliver creative activities for pupils in the school aligned with their Artsmark Statement of Commitment
  • Diversify your CPD offer in response to school needs
  • Advocate and promote cultural education services locally with signposting and sector knowledge.

Top tips for getting started

First –find out if a school you are working with is on the Artsmark journey – ask them! The onus is often on schools to approach cultural organisations for specific support, but by understanding the Artsmark process schools go through cultural organisations can better target and shape their offers to meet school needs and align with strategic priorities.

Second – understand how Artsmark works by attending an Artsmark Development Day for cultural organisations with A New Direction.

Third  check your offer against the Arts Council Quality Principles for insights into how schools are delivering their Artsmark ambitions.

Get involved in Creative Schools Artsmark by emailing us


Image credit:  Calise Lewis, Creative Schools Symposium 2016