Staff and children at Sidegate Primary School in Ipswich enjoyed multiple celebrations last week, having once again been awarded the Artsmark Platinum Award, in recognition of the school’s commitment to excellence in the provision of arts amid the backdrop of the excitement around the King’s coronation. 

Artsmark is the only creative quality standard for schools and education settings, accredited by Arts Council England, Artsmark ensures that every young person can be creative and access a diverse, high-quality cultural education. The school, which is part of The Active Learning Trust, has seen the positive difference that a long-term investment in the arts can make and has intentionally pursued opportunities to initiate and lead projects that inspire a commitment to the arts. 

A key feature of an Artsmark Platinum school is developing a deep understanding of their own practice with a view to sharing it more widely. Championing arts and culture for other schools and equipping them with the confidence and skills to do so, is something that Sidegate Primary School is clearly dedicated to and the award is high praise indeed.

In its review of the school, the Arts Council England observed that: “Sidegate Primary has continued to curate impressive arts offers as part of its curricular and extracurricular strategies. In addition, you are clearly operating in a leadership role, helping to shape practice and build capacity….. What seems to be at the heart of your work is developing a deep understanding of your own practice with a view to sharing it more widely. This is a crucially important feature of Platinum Schools, and it is heartening to read that you place such a premium on it.”

Jane Ryder, Arts and Culture Lead at Sidegate Primary School said: “As an arts-rich primary school, we are committed to providing opportunities where we can co-create with our pupils so they become the culture creators of the future.”

The award recognises schools for putting the arts, culture and creativity at the heart of their curriculum and is high praise indeed for the Ipswich-based school. Matthew Ferrier, Head  of School at Sidegate Primary School said: “The ambition for arts and culture to be at the core of our curriculum has remained throughout the introduction and refinement of our revised curriculum over the last 3 years. Arts remain embedded at the heart of our formal taught curriculum and our focus on strategic implementation has shifted to the wider curriculum and how that offer is available to and accessed by all of our pupils. We have focused our attention on removing barriers to participation and actively supporting specific groups and individuals to participate more widely in arts and culture activities beyond the formal curriculum.”

Jane Ryder continued: “Learning from experts has enriched the ambitious and aspirational curriculum offered. The impact on pupils is evident in the confidence, motivation, ability to cooperate, resilience and oracy skills developed to articulate their thoughts. As we collaborate on projects with artists and arts organisations, children are encouraged to reflect, make links to other opportunities and become aware of careers within the creative industry thus raising aspirations and a sense of belonging.”

Lynsey Holzer, Chief Executive Officer for The Active Learning Trust added “I am delighted to see the children and staff at Sidegate Primary School enjoying these wonderful coronation celebrations and playing their part in marking this historic occasion. I hope it will be a day they will all look back on for many years to come. I would also like to congratulate the school on the fantastic achievement of receiving the Platinum Artsmark Award. This highlights the huge commitment and dedication of our staff to promoting and supporting the arts and shows how much our pupils benefit in their learning across the arts.”