Ellesmere College is a non-selective independent school, located in the rural market town of Ellesmere in North Shropshire. The school has been awarded Platinum Artsmark status – the highest possible accolade for arts provision that a school can reach. Ellesmere College was invited to apply for this level as part of Arts Council England’s pilot programme and as such, have contributed to the consultation on the new Platinum level. Zoe Fisher, Ellesmere’s Artsmark Facilitator, explains its importance:
“Ellesmere has always prided itself on our wide-ranging and ambitious arts provision. Our pupils have access to drama, visual arts, dance, music, media and creative writing; we even provide training to budding theatre technicians! We are lucky to have outstanding facilities here, with beautiful theatre and performance spaces.
“Creativity rests at the heart of our curriculum and is vital for academic and personal achievement; we firmly believe that creativity is as important in a maths or science class as it is in drama or art. We have been a Gold Artsmark school since October 2014 and see it a validating mark of our skills and ethos.
“This year we decided to go further and agreed to be part of the pilot scheme for Platinum status. This means that we are committed to sharing our learning and facilities with the community and other schools. So for example, we’ve hosted Arts Award training events, and our Directors of Music and Drama have worked with local primary schools to share best-practice. My role as Artsmark Facilitator is to work with Heads of Departments to enhance creative learning for our pupils, and also to make links outside of school with organisations or education centres who might benefit from our knowledge and experience.
“Arts Connect have mentored us through our Artsmark journey and put us in touch with other schools, with lots of support and advice. I definitely encourage any school considering Artsmark to go for it: just like writing a CV, the process of applying for Artsmark puts a spotlight on what a school already does well and highlights areas for improvement. It can only help to build skills and improve the life chances for all pupils.”
Zoe Fisher, St John’s House Mistress and Artsmark facilitator
“It has been a real pleasure to work with Ellesmere College to achieve their Platinum Artsmark Award status. It was clear to see how the Artsmark framework helped Zoe and her team to realise their aspirations and to strengthen their arts provision both within their school and also their local community.”