The importance of arts education for students

and how to get your subject noticed

The creative arts fuel innovation and imagination, developing lifelong skills that help enable a student’s perception, understanding, productivity and wellbeing. Yet recent funding and accountability measures plus a global pandemic have made the arts subjects more vulnerable and at a risk of being even more overlooked in education as the focus moves to core subjects and catch up. 

Music, drama, art, design and dance bring together students of all backgrounds to find ways to express themselves, and gain greater understanding of who they are and where they belong in the world. The creative arts offer such a wealth of immeasurable benefits to your students, your community and your own personal job satisfaction that we want to show you how you can promote the arts in your school, get your subject noticed and make your mark. 

We have pulled together the very best practices we have seen in schools and colleges to provide you with fresh ideas and inspiration to raise awareness of your subject and gain greater recognition for your department. Read on to learn how you can further inspire your students, get your department on the radar and foster a lifelong love of the arts within your school and wider community.

Art teacher and students in class

What are the benefits of arts education in schools?

National measures on which schools are judged tend to focus on English, Maths and sciences which can put the creative arts on the back burner. Schools are pressured into focusing more on the subjects they are judged against, yet it is widely recognised that young people benefit hugely from participating in arts subjects in terms of their confidence, leadership, working as part of a team and developing creativity.

Rather than a distraction, an arts education enriches and complements the core subjects, raising achievement rates across all subjects as well as improving wellbeing and enriching the school day. It offers a welcome break from the huge amount of desk-based learning the core subjects have to cover as well as providing a wealth of transferable skills, preparing them for further education and future career pathways.

On top of the obvious development of individual creativity and self-expression, the arts can increase young people’s confidence and motivation which in turn improves well-being and school attendance. Hands-on learning is enjoyable and engaging, helping students learn through experimentation and making mistakes. This learning extends across all subjects and time and again we see the aggregate benefits of cross curricular learning helping to improve academic outcomes.

An arts education benefits a student in so many ways, not least in boosting their academic performance in the arts subjects they love. There are also benefits of using arts and creativity as part of the wider curriculum which enhances the teaching of other subjects (such as history, English and PSHE). This then cascades across overall learning outcomes in core subjects. The Arts Council England conducted research on the value of arts and culture across schools in the US and found:

‘Schools that integrate arts across the curriculum…have shown consistently higher average reading and mathematics scores compared to similar schools that do not.’

The arts are also a vital part of a whole school ethos of cultural appreciation and diversity, equipping students with cultural knowledge and understanding that will enable them to make better sense of the world and their place within it.

Coming together for school trips to museums, galleries, theatres and historical sites forges ties with the community as well as within the school and enriches the enjoyment and learning journey of all involved. Connecting with arts and cultural organisations can offer students the chance to take part in placement opportunities or volunteering programmes that provide them with valuable life skills and may even open doors to future career opportunities.

Fashion student working

In-school workshops or artist in residence schemes also enrich subject learning and inspire young people. Experts in subject areas that you are exploring can bring fresh thought provoking ideas to get your students even more enthusiastic. Students have the opportunity to connect with practicing artists offering them insights into this career path as well as the wider professional arts sector.

Ofsted recognises the necessity of a ‘broad, rich curriculum’, pledging the importance of delivering ‘real learning’, not just a results focused, test based education. Yet we have seen cuts in funding and the Cultural Learning Alliance has recorded a 38% decline in arts GCSE entries from 2010 to 2021.

Recent reports are starting to point to the hours of arts teaching and numbers of arts teachers are finally stabilising as the benefits of the arts not only in education but also to wellbeing is finally acknowledged. During an era when our students are becoming increasingly stressed, there is no better time to recognise the value of an arts education. Nicolas Serota, CH Chair of The Durham Commission on Creativity and Education summises:

‘At a time when the mental health of children and young people is of concern, there is ample evidence of the value and importance of creativity in supporting wellbeing. Young people can find strength, inspiration, consolation and community in their shared experience of creativity.’

Beyond test scores, we know that an arts education can produce significant positive outcomes both socially and academically. The United Kingdom is a culturally rich country brimming with creativity and cultural diversity with arts and culture contributing £10.6 billion to the UK economy.

Before the pandemic, creative industries employment was growing at twice the rate of the UK economy, and it has been projected that post pandemic, the creative sector could recover faster than the UK economy overall. Recognised internationally as a cultural hub, vibrant with a wealth of arts and culture, the arts industry in the UK still promises bright, fulfilling future career pathways for creative students.

The evidence is clear that Music, Art & Design, Drama and Dance bring tangible, valuable and long-lasting benefits. So what practical steps can you take to bolster the prominence of the arts at your school?

How to motivate your students to create visual art and get your department noticed

Given all that we have experienced over the recent years with lessons being taught remotely online and many clubs cancelled, now more than ever is the time to make sure that visual art does not fall to the bottom of the school’s priorities list and get overlooked in the pressure to catch up on core subjects. 

The Tate explores why arts education is important in their article ‘Why Study Art’ and features students, artists and cultural figures speaking about the many benefits: 

‘School in general is so stressful…this is the one lesson I look forward to every week because I know it’s not going to majorly stress me out.’ Student, Three Rivers Academy, Surrey

You may feel that your setting has a fantastic visual arts provision but keeps getting overlooked. Or that the visual arts are less of a priority in your school than you would like and you feel your students’ achievements could be celebrated more. 

We have looked at some of the best ways to promote art through your students and get your department noticed.

Artist in residence

Fully funded opportunities for an artist in residence to join your school are an excellent way to help get your department noticed. Stimulating creativity and imagination with new approaches and ideas offered by the artist motivates students and the experience can open their eyes to potential careers in the arts. 

An artist in residence initiative can be set up so there are cross-curricular impacts. In this way, other subject leaders can see first hand the benefits that an artist and arts activity can have on their area of the school. This also extends the opportunities to promote your department by making a bigger ‘splash’ with a large, cross-departmental team. 

Art students collaborating

Trips

Appreciating arts, culture and heritage is close to the heart of every arts professional and what better way than organising trips and visits to extend understanding of the arts. Museums, heritage sites, exhibitions, galleries, theatre productions and trips to other arts events are valuable sources of inspiration. 

With some coordination and pre-planning, a single trip to a cultural venue can benefit a range of subjects - history, English and geography, for example - maximising the impact of the visit. Students can be tasked with critically reviewing their trip which can be used in school magazines and newsletters. It is a great way to develop arts vocabulary as well as learn to express likes and dislikes and explain why - and their review can be used towards an Arts Award. Students can also reproduce what they see which makes for eye-catching school displays. 

Of course it doesn’t need to be an actual ‘visit’ to be enriching and inspiring. Many galleries (and arts organisations such as Art UK) have great digital resources that students can make use of and some museums have placed their entire catalogues online which provide rich resources for research. Whether the experience takes place ‘in real life’ or is virtual, the Arts Award Supporter map can help you to find places nearby that have a specific offer for young people. Sharing your students’ resulting reviews and artworks with a local venue can forge a strong link and may result in the work being promoted through the organisation’s own channels. 

One student’s personal view on the value of visual art learning in schools is included in The Tate’s report, Why Study Art:

‘[School is] all very robotic. It’s all very ‘it needs to be this, this and this’. You can’t do this because it is wrong. It’s all following a strict script. That’s not what we’re made to do. We’re made to be our own person, we’re made to go off and do something that someone else hasn’t done before.’ Student, Ark Helenswood, Hastings

The importance of displaying your students’ work

Walls in schools are never in short supply and displaying your students’ work throughout the school is great for their self-esteem and sense of ownership of the art work, as well as showcasing your department. It may seem counterintuitive with  less visitors allowed in school due to the pandemic but this means that getting your work seen in as many ways as possible is even more important than ever. 

Using your school as your canvas provides a great opportunity to get creative to show your students’ skills where they can be seen and appreciated by staff and other students. Your school courtyard or other outdoor space is often the place where students congregate and is usually an important part of the school’s culture - being in open air makes it a great spot to show off public works like sculptures and murals, the benches are canvases waiting to be painted. 

You could task your students with featuring their public works digitally for those who cannot visit the school to enjoy and it will be a talking feature for future open events. You can reach a wide audience by showcasing your students’ work on social media. Twitter and Instagram are both extremely popular and it’s easy to set up a school account on either site for your department. 

Getting students involved in compiling an e-magazine devoted to the arts has the potential to pull in a lot of interest and can extend to featuring competitions, and termly or annual exhibitions. You could elect a student body from the sixth form to manage and promote these activities allowing them to develop a host of event management skills - this leadership experience could count towards a qualification such as Silver or Gold Arts Award

Competitions and partnerships

Receiving accolades for competitive endeavours doesn’t need to be limited to the school’s sports teams. Competitions are a great way to get noticed nationally and within the school community. The Royal College of Art holds an annual exhibition of students’ work aged 8 - 18 years. Travel Photographer of the Year holds an annual competition with a category for Young Travel Photographer of the Year with age categories split into under 14s and 14-18. 

There may also be local or regional competitions or festivals students can get involved with. The Arts Council's Bridge organisation local to your school may be able to help supply information.

More widely, it’s worth checking whether your setting is part of one of Arts Council England’s Local Cultural Education Partnerships (LCEPs). These partnerships are a great place to share successes, make new alliances and get support. Associated with the LCEP there may also be a local creative schools network or something similar, aimed at inspiring teachers and collaborating across schools. These networks can prove fruitful in raising your profile and making new connections: A new partnership with another school or arts organisation is something your senior team are sure to be keen to hear about.

Click here to download the Gold Guide

Fun ways to improve drama student engagement

Drama is well recognised for the transferable skills and employability skills it brings young people. Teamwork, confidence, critical thinking and listening, to name a few, are qualities vital to succeed in any aspect of life, and even the shyest of students can flourish in the creative open space of a drama department. With that in mind, it’s important that you promote the benefits of your subject for students and the positive impact that engaging with drama activities can have on the wider school community. We have come up with the most effective ways to grow your department and get it noticed. 

Putting on a show

Nothing brings a school more to life than a whole school production. Students who have the opportunity to take part find it deeply enriching and a chance to make new friendships and develop their confidence. School productions can be very inclusive with so many opportunities to get involved, with the benefit for drama teachers of being able to share out some of the heavy workload associated with putting on a show. Students learn and experience how to put on a drama production not just through acting, but through design, directing, writing, promotion and the host of disciplines connected with theatre. 

Parents and the local community enjoy seeing the vibrant heart of their school and the school production is talked about long after the last curtain. You can jump on the back of this attention and invite the local press to cover your production. You could also ask a photography student to take photographs which you can share in an online gallery alongside critical reviews written by your students.

Drama students doing face paints

Drama’s link to school development

Anything a department can do to support the school’s key strategic goals is sure to be noticed by senior management and will help to raise the profile of you and your department.

Drama can support whole school aims by working with the careers function in school to support the delivery of the recently published Government’s career strategy. The drama department can organise and run activities that build students’ communication skills which are essential for entry into further education and success in future careers. For example, students could act out typical interview scenarios or the drama team could offer an extra-curricular club aimed at developing students’ communication skills. 

Linking with other subjects such as English also connects drama to core learning and can be used to develop communication skills including confident public speaking. Drama can improve voice projection, articulation and persuasive speech as well as listening and observational skills. These can be further developed by playing drama games based around fictitious work scenarios to give students an idea of how to react and express themselves when placed in the real world.

Drama is such a versatile art form which can be used to enhance many other areas of teaching and wider school development. By taking a look through your setting’s School Improvement/Development plans, you are likely to come across a number of wider strategic aims that drama can support. These might range from improving boys’ literacy, to increasing engagement with parents, or from maximising student leadership and voice, to ensuring equality, diversity and inclusion across the school. Greater use of drama as a tool for wider development will gain your subject more exposure and support from leadership.

Offering graded exams

Offering drama graded exams or other assessments that cover the performing arts such as Arts Award enhances the credibility of the drama department with students and parents as students can gain qualifications and even UCAS points. Your senior leadership team will be keen to see measurable outcomes coming from your department as this can support reports for the governors and Ofsted. 

Choosing assessments that are inclusive is important to encourage wide-spread participation and support achievement. For instance, less confident students can be put forward for exams if the board you choose offers pairs and group exams

Chris, Head of Drama at a school in London highlights the benefits of running graded drama assessments for groups:

‘[Drama] students are encouraged to work together in order to achieve their joint goals. A lot of subjects don’t require students to do this or get a grade based on their combined actions within a unit: graded drama exams require collaboration, good listening, and compromise – really adult skills, which should be celebrated.’

Trips

Theatre trips bring so much joy and inspiration and it is always fascinating to go backstage and learn about all the employment and volunteer opportunities the theatre has on offer. Seeing a live play can help develop emotional intelligence as students learn the ability to appreciate how others think and feel. Going to the theatre also offers students the chance to see beyond their own perspective, as Adam, an actor and drama teacher, explains:

‘For a lot of children, their first introduction to Shakespeare is sitting in an English classroom reading it – that’s not how Shakespeare is meant to be accessed. No wonder so many people, even into adulthood, hate Shakespeare. What teenager wants to sit down and read this text from a book? I didn’t understand verse when I was 14.

But taking a group to see a production of ‘Othello’ and watch it live was amazing. All of a sudden things made sense to them.’

While the excitement of a trip to the theatre will promote your department by itself, you can use the buzz this creates to really get your subject noticed. There are also possibilities for stimulating professional theatre experiences without leaving your school building or town offered by the many live-streamed performances put on by national venues. 

Whether the experience takes place in a traditional theatre, pop-up venue or your local cinema, students could write critical reviews for the school magazine, re-enact highlights of the play in an assembly or even write and direct their own mini plays based on inspiration from the theatre trip. 

Workshops

Actors or travelling theatre companies can be invited into school to deliver workshops to inspire your students. There is the potential to extend the experience by arranging a ‘question and answer’ session where students interview the cast and production team. This can contribute to your school’s wider career education strategy, a qualification like Arts Award or similar outcomes.

This can be showcased on your department’s social media feed as well as the school’s main feed; make sure you tag the theatre company so they can see your post and they may share it with their followers. You could invite the local paper to cover the workshop and feature the students enjoying and learning at the same time. Don’t forget to share any coverage you receive with your senior team and governors.

Students doing a drama workshop

Past students

Keeping in touch with past students is a great opportunity to showcase possible career pathways to your current students. Do you have any past students who studied drama and went on to study or work in a related subject? Drama brings with it a wealth of transferable skills and a variety of career pathways available for those with a passion for the theatre arts, from front of house to marketing. 

By demonstrating the range of career options available, you may have an impact on students choosing to continue to drama past Key Stage 3. And your senior leadership team will be keen to see positive proof that theatre is a viable career option and that the skills developed by studying drama are highly desirable for a wide range of future studies and career... 

Voice magazine is also a great source of information for aspiring young creatives who can gain inspiration from initiatives, artworks and stories shared by peers. Articles such as ‘Drama is a useless degree’…How wrong you are! demonstrate the transferable skills your subject brings

Festivals and competitions

Drama competitions and festivals are an enjoyable experience for all involved and boost your presence and appeal with students and parents. There are several national drama competitions on offer. Here are some options as a starting point that may be suitable for your school: The National Student Drama Festival offers workshops, debates, masterclasses and opportunities to perform for 16-24 year olds. And there is the Shakespeare Schools festival which is the world's largest youth drama festival bringing Shakespeare to life in schools across the country with opportunities to participate and perform. 

You may also want to consider the National Theatre’s Connections programme, a nationwide youth theatre festival which provides students with the unique opportunity to access new works written by some of theatre’s most exciting playwrights and then to stage performances in theatres nationwide. Many towns and cities have arts festivals which are an excellent way to link with the wider community and promote your subject through your students. 

Inspiring design and technology projects the whole school can enjoy

The role of Design & Technology in schools can sometimes be overlooked, but by demonstrating the value of Design & Technology to students and parents you help boost your department’s profile.

Design & Technology hosts a wealth of career possibilities in industry growth sectors and opens doors to jobs that didn’t exist until recently and don’t even exist yet.  Young people with an aptitude for maths or science can often thrive with Design and Technology just as much as those with a flair for the arts, and many love the fun of hands-on learning and seeing their ideas become reality. D&T is a popular choice for students across the board and your department can gain profile-raising ‘quick wins’ by connecting with the visual arts and Maths within school.  

Tying into cross curricular initiatives helps raise your department's profile and what better than linking science and technology subjects, including physics, maths, chemistry and IT. When it comes to the sciences, having knowledge of how physical and chemical processes work can come in handy when designing different products. Linking with the arts reinforces the planning, design and practicalities D&T brings to the creative subjects.

'D&T prepares its students to participate in tomorrow’s rapidly changing world. Students learn to think creatively and solve problems as individuals and as part of a team.’ Jim Smith, Deputy Head Teacher, Meden School 

Engaging in design competitions such as those offered by Neon such as the Big Bang Competition or I’m an engineer, get me out of here! gives students the chance to sink their teeth into real-world, authentic projects as well as demonstrating how broad a design career could be. You need the technical skills to make designs a reality, but these would be nothing without the creative vision and artistic visualisation which sit alongside. And by entering competitions such as these you have an exciting talking point for staff meetings, assemblies and school newsletters as well as social media.

Another great way to raise the profile of design in schools is to engage with topics that spark excitement with your students. Cross-curricular learning can promote the importance of STEAM and how each subject can enhance the learning experience of each other and open up unimagined career pathways. Production and character design is a huge part of the film, TV and theatre industries, and many young people don’t realise that those incredible creatures and sets from productions like Harry Potter, The Mandalorian  and even Riverdale were first imagined by a design artist. You could arrange a school trip to a film set or Design Museum and then have students plan and make concepts for school productions or packaging for the school canteen.. 

‘Design and Technology should be as riveting and relevant as the career it channels into. Logical, creative and practical, it’s the only opportunity that school students have to apply what they learn in maths and science – directly preparing them for a future in engineering.’ James Dyson, Inventor

Thinking more widely, crafts offer a great opportunity to engage students who enjoy the practicality of Design & Technology and also the aesthetics of visual arts. One of the most accessible crafts for schools is textiles as it doesn’t require any specialist equipment. We have seen craft has staged a comeback over recent years and there are many opportunities for textile specialists to make their mark. Yarn bombing around the school, for instance, is a great conversation piece and can be shared virtually, as can tying textiles into other subjects such as geography for ethical fashion or exploring e-textiles in ICT. 

Budding fashion designers may be interested in platforms such as Awaytomars that welcomes students to collaborate in an online fashion design platform crowdfunded to produce the best fashion designs selected by the community. Textile students can also get involved in school productions with set and costume designs or even a proposed school uniform design can boost the subject’s presence.

Discover more with the Essential Guide to Gold Arts Award

How to boost the profile of music across the school

Music is traditionally a well respected subject, yet music education is struggling in some settings. Recent reports show that the take up of Music GCSE and A-level is declining and fewer young people are studying music outside of school. Veronica Wadley, chair of the new expert advisory panel for the National Plan for Music Education (NPME) recognised the value of a music education saying:

‘It is so important that every child and young person, from whatever background and area, has the opportunity to benefit from learning to sing and play a musical instrument, improving not only concentration, self-confidence and academic attainment but also raising expectations of what they can achieve in all areas of their lives.’

However, for many young people, their only formal education in music will be through school– and with music being such a powerful tool for students this is a real issue.

Creating bands, orchestras, choirs and other performance groups is a great way to engage lots of students, and the combined voice of so much music-making will raise the profile of your department without trying. Can students do live music for a school production or assembly? Is there the opportunity for a music concert or prom? Can students have access to the music room at lunchtimes or after school to develop their own music which might not fit into the curriculum?

Encouraging students to enter for assessments, exams and music competitions will not only give them an endpoint to work towards, but will give them professional feedback and something to enrich their CV.

The music world offers plenty of opportunities for students to get competitive. For example, the National Concert Band Festival is the UK’s largest wind band and big band festival where students can perform in front of an audience, with adjudicators offering feedback based on the NCBF award criteria resulting in a Platinum, Gold, Silver or Bronze certificate. There is also Young Songwriter Competition is a worldwide competition for young people aged 8-18 whereby students can have their songs heard by a star-studded panel of judges, as well as connect with like-minded peers. Another option is Denbighshire Urdd Eisteddfod 2022, one of Europe’s largest youth touring festivals with over 15,000 young people under the age of 25 competing in various artforms.

Connecting with your local Music Education Hub is a valuable way to forge links with the musical community and access music education services for children aged 5-18. Music hubs bring together music services, local authorities, schools, art and community organisations to make sure all pupils have access to a music education. Both Ofsted and Arts Council England advocate for schools to build stronger relationships with their local music hub and by doing this you will connect the work of your department with the Government's National Plan for Music Education.

Music tech students

Music technology is a great feature of the curriculum which can ensure that your subject has more profile and is recognised for the huge benefits it can bring. It is often a way to engage students who never considered music as a subject they can access, so when you’re next reviewing your music enrichment options, why not consider adding music technology to your range of clubs? Students with an interest in music technology may be well placed to offer support to school productions, acting as a useful point of contact with the drama department.

Composing music for video games is another instant hit with students. Along the lines of creating music for a film, students can compose music for different video games matching mood and style. They could work in groups to plan a short story or action sequence that they can tell with sound effects alone. Other students then have to guess the story.

Rap music is another possible popular genre that could be used to engage students. For younger classes, rapping a name is a fun warm-up. Students could also write a rap about themselves based on a structure and then record a rhythmic backing to go with the rap. They can then record their rap and the backing, and experiment with various post-production effects.

For those schools choosing to embrace the Model Music Curriculum as a framework to support their lessons and planning, between Key Stages 1 and 3 there are recommendations for a wide range of musical activity. This includes singing and listening, music technology, creating graphic scores, musical improvisation, whole class and small group ensemble learning and also dance. You could introduce a qualification such as Arts Award to accredit non-traditional music activities and those for which music grades aren’t currently available. You could even add topics such as music industry marketing for older students.

Motivating your students to dance

The late Sir Ken Robinson believed that dance is just as important as maths in school arguing for ‘...equity in educating the whole child’ and the ‘equal importance of dance with the other arts, languages, mathematics, sciences and the humanities in the general education of every child.’ Dance is, of course, an art form in its own right that should be celebrated not only for its inherent beauty and creativity but also for the benefits to fitness, coordination, flexibility and wellbeing this discipline brings. However joining forces with the PE department is an efficient way to piggy-back on the promotion and existing recognition sports often have in schools, while partnering with English and Drama for school productions and trips is another way to promote this subject.

Linking with national initiatives and programmes is an effective way to shine a light on your subject and demonstrate its value. The Royal School of Ballet partners with schools in its commitment to the belief that every child and young person is entitled to dance as part of a wider cultural education and their outreach programme is designed to introduce the art form of classical ballet to young people in a creative and dynamic way.

Dance students practising

Outside of school, if you have talented dancers, why not signpost them to CATs schools, the Royal Opera House Create and Dance free programme or suggest that they audition for the National Youth Dance Company? Taking part in activities like these will increase their skills, but also raise the profile of the subject within school as they could be profiled in an assembly, school newsletter and social media.

Young people love to dance and perform and their exposure to social media and music videos has made the latest dance moves common currency with many students. What better way to motivate your students than integrating up-to-date forms of dance into your practice. This could be in the form of the latest crazes on TikTok or even ballroom on Strictly, or through a study of the cultural heritage of dance introducing such practices as Bollywood or K-pop.

While dance remains a subject at risk in many schools there are ways to advocate and retain it as the valuable and wide-reaching subject it is.

Click here to download the Gold Guide

Harnessing cross-curricular connections

Cross-curricular is a creative way to deepen students’ skills, understanding and learning and can be a very motivating and stimulating method of working. Exploring topics through interconnected subjects stretches the imagination and can make for memorable learning. 

Companies and charities offer fun ways to combine skill-sets via such activities as The Big Knit, Sony World Photography Awards and The Young Enterprise Scheme. You could, for example,  task your older students with setting up cross curricular challenges based around a theme for The Big Knit or a photography competition or even making items for charitable causes. This can be divided into age categories for the younger years and can be shared in school assemblies, social media accounts and newsletters. Your older students may even want to set up a school club where all ages can meet to work on entries to the competition and share skills while having fun. 

Linking with other arts departments within the school is a great way to share ideas, get support and jointly advocate for the value of the arts in your school. You will all have your own areas of expertise, and by working together can generate great ideas for eye catching work and rewarding learning. Are there skills you can share with each other, or have certain approaches worked for you in the past you can share?

Using your combined skill and enthusiasm can attract a lot of attention in your school. Whether this is leading a reading week, a cross-genre arts week, school productions, careers events or end of year celebration activities, working together will help to keep your own workload manageable, and role-model team work for your students.

You could work with your colleagues in the English department for a week focussing on the power of language. You could work across year groups with the older students inspiring the younger ones:

  • In English, students could create pieces of creative writing
  • During Drama, students could bring this creative writing to life
  • The Art department could design the sets 
  • Design can help with props
  • Textiles can work on costumes, 
  • Dance can help with movement and choreography
  • Music can develop the soundscape or score

At the end of the week there could be a showcase assembly to celebrate the hard work which can also be shared with parents. The work could also be displayed during open events.

STEM subjects can also be involved with students learning about how to create circuits for the lights used. Maths is involved in the design and scaling of model boxes, and you could even link this to the History department by introducing themes studied in history as inspiration for the texts created in English. You may be surprised at the range of national programmes that have an arts angle, and some may already be enjoying a high level of prominence within your school. The Duke of Edinburgh's Award, for example, has included creating a work of art or music on The Experience List, a list of activities every young person should try and do to build their confidence, resilience and independence.  

How students can help raise the profile of arts education in schools

Students who enjoy your subject and teaching are the most powerful advocates for your department. If the opportunity is given, they will passionately speak about the changes your arts education has made to their school experience and life. Sienna James who achieved Bronze, Silver and Gold Arts Awards explains in an article for Voice magazine how students’ voices can help teachers to raise the profile of the arts in schools.

Enabling your advocates to share their experience is a highly effective way to promote your presence whether at assembly, school open day, as part of a showcase event or performance, even at a staff or governors meeting. They can highlight particular differences your subject has made to their life, to their achievements in other subjects and to their further education or future career choices.

Sharing arts enrichment activities of Key Stage 5 students is a superb way to inspire younger students and cascade awareness and excitement for your subject throughout the school. The exhibitions, performances, artforms and portfolios order students produce are outstanding in their own right and promoting their work will promote you. Beckie Voller, Ignite Leader for Arts at St Bede’s and St Joseph's Catholic College explains how this works in the case of her Gold Arts Award students:

‘Gold Arts Award increases the profile of your department and makes it more visible. It’s lovely to see the older students work with the younger students, showing them what they have done for their Gold. You see the younger ones looking at the older students' work and thinking ‘I want to do that'.’

You could encourage your older students to form a Student Arts Council made up of keen representatives drawn from across the school. What is better than a group of enthusiastic arts appreciators gathered together to create great visual art and promote their work and your department across the school and wider community. They can inspire fellow students, deliver whole school art projects, get involved with decision-making within the department, run assemblies and be your very best advocates.

You could also encourage them to organise a whole school Arts Week to showcase work and talent by bringing together budding artists, musicians, actors, singers for an inspirational week’s celebration of the arts (and your department) in school.

How Arts Award can benefit your school

Arts Award is a range of unique qualifications that supports anyone aged up to 25 to grow as artists and arts leaders, inspiring them to connect with and take part in the wider arts world through taking challenges in an art form - from fashion to digital art, drama to dance.

Through progressing through the Arts Award levels, young people get to:

  • discover the enjoyment of creating and participating in arts activities
  • experience arts events
  • develop creative and communication skills that are essential for success in 21st century life
  • explore the work of artists and craftspeople and gain insights into the professional arts world
  • gain experience and knowledge to help progress into further education and employment

There are no entry requirements, no time limit for completing the award, and no set rules on how to present final work.

How does it work?

Arts Award’s flexible framework means it can fit around a wide range of arts, cultural and heritage activities and projects, including creative and technical roles. It can be delivered in many ways and in a wide range of settings. You can map it to your existing activity or use it to kick-start something new. Arts Award delivery happens in curriculum or extra-curricular programmes and enrichment options, museum or heritage projects, weekly clubs or groups, and partnership projects.

'Whatever your curriculum or extra-curricular programme, Arts Award can map to what you are already doing. Accredit your KS3 activity and provide opportunities for older students to develop their leadership skills and gain additional UCAS points through the flexible Arts Award format.' Rachel Shann, Assistant Head and Arts Award adviser, Kingsmead School

Gold Arts Award can be part of your arts enrichment programme

Gold as part of your enrichment programme is an effective way to retain more students in Key Stages 4 and 5. Any student with an interest in the arts can work towards Gold Arts Award and the qualification is extremely popular to students who opt for non arts subjects but wish to continue with an arts subject they love. Arts students benefit deeply from taking Gold Arts Award as not only does it extend their arts practice, but it delivers transferable skills through the organisation and delivery of the public showing of their work. Students are extremely proud of their portfolio and it is an excellent opportunity to showcase their work during interviews, it gives them that extra edge.

The Level 3 qualification also carries 16 UCAS points and challenges young people to extend their own arts practice, supports them to connect with the professional arts world and gain hands-on experience of leading an arts project.

You can train to run the Gold Award regardless of whether you have trained to deliver the lower levels of the qualification already.

Gold Arts Award is not only a valuable addition to any young person’s qualifications but an extremely rewarding and gratifying experience to the adviser both personally and professionally.

The Gold level opens up a world of professional development and networking possibilities, the opportunity to forge links with art organisations and artists in your area and a myriad of ways to showcase the work of your department. As part of training to run Gold Arts Award you will get the chance to explore case studies and examples of Gold level work and meet other professionals from a variety of settings who are planning to run Arts Award and keen to share ideas and inspiration.

‘Gold Arts Award is one of the best additions that we have made to our extended curriculum. The award is genuinely different and seeing students challenge themselves and realise there is a world outside of school that is not organised in subjects and that they can connect with it and feel excited about it is one of the most rewarding things I do at the moment.’ Louise Wallace, Head of Drama, Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls

Discover more with the Essential Guide to Gold Arts Award