Arts Award is a truly golden opportunity for pupils of different ages to embrace the arts and, in my 8 years as an advisor, I have seen so many children benefit from what Arts Award has to offer. My own background is quite diverse: an architecture graduate who moved onto a Masters in media production and documentary film making – I try and bring as much of this diversity into my every day practice as I can as well as with my Arts Award work.
I have been an Art teacher now for almost 15 years and I am head of Art at Alvechurch Middle School in Worcestershire. We are a school with a strong reputation in the arts and I offer bronze level as an extra-curricular program; this is in addition to the silver level for my year 8 pupils who have achieved well at bronze level.
The way I approach Arts Award is that individuality is to be encouraged from the very beginning and it’s here the value of Arts Award is exceptional. Children can begin to make their own creative choices for their arts journey; this is where I see children achieve great things. My role as an Arts Award advisor is to help guide pupils to make effective and realistic choices with the ideas they have and have meaningful and valuable conversations about the content they wish to explore for their portfolio.
I begin my bronze programme in January with an aim for pupils to have six months to build and develop their portfolio. I have my candidates attend lunch time sessions to work on their portfolio with additional work completed at home – students from years 6, 7 and 8 take part. Pupils who participate are from a wide ability range; some are pupils who excel in the arts in some form, however there are also those pupils who may need more additional support, but have a real love of the arts and are bursting with enthusiasm.
I ask pupils to organise their work using a sketchbook to begin with, then it is up to them to tailor their work approach to fit in with their ideas. Moderation of my bronze award generally takes place in July and I have found the process of moderation an invaluable one. Moderators have a wealth of knowledge and you can learn a lot as an advisor by engaging with the process and having significant discussions that can develop your own practice further.
Arts Award has the power to raise ability and attainment, increase self confidence and self-esteem and encourage a real sense of responsibility. I have also found that it has had a positive impact on pupils taking G.C.S.E Art as an option; all of this goes to show how important and influential arts experiences like this can be and how effective the range and structure of Arts Award augments this further. As an advisor, I am hugely proud to be part of the Arts Award family and it has given me (personally and professionally) an enormous amount of satisfaction to be part of the journey my pupils go on and I thoroughly enjoy guiding them through the process.
Miss SJ Datta, Head of Art, Alvechurch C of E Middle School