We are committed! Arts, culture and creativity in our schools

As we hit May full on, amidst the bank holidays and half term we are all running full steam ahead with our ambition that our children receive an education that is rich in the arts, design, cultural and creative activities.

We are preparing for the RSA Academies’ Festival of Arts and Creativity, Artsfest, which arrives in Whitley Academy in Coventry on Wednesday 18 July – to mark the city’s recent fabulous success in winning the bid to be the UK’s next City of Culture in 2021 following Hull’s triumphant year. All seven schools are coming along to create new artworks and scratch performances to the theme of ‘belonging’, and will be working with we are thrilled to say, Birmingham’s own super-spoken-word artist, Amerah Saleh.

The students are busying away with several competitions, the RSA Academies’ Art Prize, and RSA Academies’ Poetry Prize – as well as the now national RSA Pupil Design Awards. We’ve had a sneak preview of some of the poems, responding to the theme ‘window on the world’ and can tell you there’s some brilliant, emotion-provoking work in the shortlist already. We’ll announce the winners of the Art Prize and the Poetry Prize at Artsfest. And for the Pupil Design Awards, students are coming up with innovative ideas in response to one of three briefs; ‘knowing me, knowing you’, ‘learning independently’ and ‘food is not rubbish’; through using design thinking.

Students are also really busy rehearsing in their classes for the final Performing Arts Hub project, Song Cycle. This is going to be brilliant! Having heard a little from the stars-in-the-making at Abbeywood First School, this is going to be a night to remember for the children, their parents and teachers. This project is aiming to bring together our schools through the creation and performance of a new ‘song cycle’ celebrating the schools’ common mission and values. Composer Michael Betteridge has been commissioned to write a new song cycle created in a participatory way with young people, parents, teachers, governors and senior leadership teams from all seven RSA schools. Performances will take place on Monday 25 June at RSA Academy, Tipton, Tuesday 26 June at St Stephen’s Church, Redditch and on Tuesday 10 July at CBSO Centre. For more information about these please email Naomi Wellings, Learning Co-ordinator at BCMG.

Mental Pictures is also well underway too, having been launched at Arrow Vale RSA Academy in February by Royal Designer for Industry, Morag Myerscough and David Frost from The Samaritans. This project has been created in partnership with the Helen Storey Foundation and RSA Design Network. Students and teachers from Holyhead School, Arrow Vale, Whitley, Church Hill and Ipsley are exploring how they can use creative approaches to mental health issues in schools. The project aims to tackle issues openly and creatively and to naturalise discussions and work around mental health and wellbeing.

No wonder then that we are starting to look at Artsmark across the whole family as a strategic way of validating and providing extra challenge on this journey. RSA Academy in Tipton were awarded Gold Artsmark in January, Abbeywood First School and Whitley Academy are also on the journey, with Holyhead signing up soon. All RSA schools have committed to gaining with Artsmark Gold of Platinum by July 2019. Now isn’t that something to sing from the rooftops about.

Related project: ‘Arts and creativity’ and ‘world beyond school’ commitments Related project: Windows of the World Related project: Mental pictures: applying joy and colour to a challenging issue Related project: Congratulations RSA Academy on Artsmark Gold achievement