Arts Award: for creativity, leadership, communication skills

Sponsored: Rory Harris, Head of English at QEH and Arts Award Adviser for English and Creative Writing, talks about the Arts Award and its impact

How did QEH first become involved with Arts Award? 

I heard about it through a friend who worked in a state school in Northamptonshire, as they offered the Bronze, Silver and Gold Arts Award as an alternative to GCSEs. We didn’t feel this was right for QEH but I saw the opportunity for Year 7s to work towards the Bronze Award as I liked how it rewards creativity and individuality. So, eight years ago we started working with Arts Award.

How does Arts Award work with the curriculum? 

We teach it through our timetabled lessons. For example, I am currently teaching A Monster Calls but with Arts Award working alongside it. The benefit of being an independent school is that we design our own curriculum and our Head is very supportive of new ideas.

Can you explain how pupils achieve Arts Award? 

Of course. Arts Award is all about awarding creativity and ambition in the arts and we have chosen to cover English. There are four sections that each pupil has to complete, which covers creative writing, reviewing a live arts event in their own time, researching their favourite author and teaching their arts partner something they have learnt during the process. Their arts partner is an important part of the process as sharing experiences is a key part of learning.

How have pupils reacted to Arts Award? Any success stories? 

All the pupils love it. A moderator visits the school at the end of the year and they ask a group of students for feedback, which is universally positive. One success story was a boy who decided that his creative writing was going to be film scripts and he ended up writing some very sophisticated scripts and explained how he would film them. The experience really stuck with him and he decided to do English literature for A-level and he was Head Boy!

Is QEH placing more emphasis on the arts? 

Yes, absolutely. It is a massive part of the school and we even have our own theatre which has been run as a professional theatre in its own right. It has become a significant venue in Bristol and our music department is also really strong. In a lot of schools there are cuts in the arts, whereas at QEH the opposite is the case.

Do you have any big events coming up which relate to the arts? 

In the last week of term, we have an arts festival. This involves music and drama performances and we display some creative writing there as well. Parents are invited to the event and we present it as our annual arts showpiece.

Why should other schools get involved with Arts Award? 

It promotes independence, creativity and enjoyment in the curriculum. With Arts Award, pupils have the opportunity to develop their own learning and interests, which is fantastic.

Arts Award is managed by Trinity College London in association with Arts Council England. It was launched in 2005 and is open to anyone aged up to 25. If your school would like to get involved, visit artsaward.org.uk/advisers or email annabel.thomas@trinitycollege.co.uk.