Congratulations on Receiving – Artsmark Platinum 2020

Your Statement of Commitment and Case Study/Statement of Impact have been assessed and we are delighted to inform you that your setting has been awarded an Artsmark Platinum Award. Congratulations! We have made the following comment about your submissions: Your vision for the Arts at the Manchester Secondary PRU is impressive, particularly in light of the complexity of the organisation, which serves vulnerable young people who have been excluded from the mainstream system in various centres across Manchester, including commissioned places at independent schools. School leaders and governors are deeply committed to the Arts, and understand their value in successfully engaging and inspiring the most disaffected and distressed students. Your pedagogy comes with an understanding that the Arts are central to building the self-esteem, and developing the skills and talents, of these young people. Your curriculum is making a difference to children and young people’s lives through your universal arts offer, as well as specific targeted interventions, such as art therapy. You are offering arts courses which lead to recognised qualifications for your students, including Art and Design GCSE at Key Stage 4, as well as a strong arts enrichment programme. Despite the significant challenges of delivering services across 26 different sites located across the whole of Manchester, you are utilising the Arts to drive and facilitate collaborative working between a range of professionals, including teachers, youth workers and pastoral support workers. You have achieved this by strengthening your enthusiastic and skilled Arts Working Party, with the effect that practices are embedded securely and standardised across the different settings. The inter-school art competition that the Arts Working Party devised has been successful in further promoting the Arts and embedding creativity at the heart of your ethos. The school has capitalised on governors’ contacts to form partnerships with arts professionals, cultural organisations and venues across the city, affording pupils opportunities to take part in creative challenges, such as Manchester City Council’s ‘Skills for Life’ project, and develop their employment skills. Staff members have made links and collaborated with local community groups, such as ‘Rock Up Music’ resulting in opportunities to perform and recognise their achievements through Arts Award. Your commitment to high quality continuing professional development is evident in the three-year professional art therapy training that you’re funding, which is making a positive contribution to the overarching well-being work across the PRU. Furthermore, you are advocating for the Arts, and influencing practice and curriculum design in the independent school settings by providing training and ongoing support for their staff, as well as for your own, directly managed sites, leading to increased participation in the Arts and raised standards. Your willingness to share good practice might now evolve into taking an even stronger role in advocating for the Arts, perhaps in mainstream settings to support those pupils who are vulnerable to exclusion, or with other PRUs nationally. You do not offer an account of how you work to engage young people in planning and delivering authentic arts experiences and you might consider how you can empower them further and develop their ownership of their cultural lives. Representation on the ‘Arts Working Party’ might be a way forward, as might more widespread use of the Arts Award. You might look further at how performing arts can be developed so that dance, drama and music can match your excellent art provision.

Congratulations on your Artsmark Platinum Award!