I was recently invited to Knightlow Primary School which is located in Stretton-on-Dunsmore in my constituency. My visit was scheduled to coincide with a special whole school event taking place to celebrate and profile the arts.
The headteacher and staff at Knightlow School are passionate about the arts and see them as an essential component to enable children to thrive and develop as confident, independent and successful learners. This is a school where the arts are rightly recognised as a vital part of the curriculum – unlocking learning potential and developing the self-confidence of every child.
My visit started with a tour of the arts-rich school environment that has been created. As I was shown around the classrooms by a group of pupils, I was able to see for myself the impressive level of engagement with and enthusiasm for the arts. From reception through to year six, the children were immersed in singing, dancing, painting and more.
The school has been part of Arts Council England’s Artsmark programme for seven years. Artsmark provides national recognition of excellent arts and cultural education in schools and Artsmark and Arts Connect (which works across the Midlands) support Knightlow’s provision. They provide professional support and guidance in developing the curriculum and teachers’ expertise, and also cultivate links with local museums, galleries and artists that enrich the opportunities available to the children.
Knightlow School is aiming to achieve Artsmark Platinum status and on the journey towards doing so they are specifically working to develop the way they promote and disseminate their good practice to staff and children beyond their school. They will also be developing how they embed provision and diversity in alternative art forms in the curriculum through linking creativity and wellbeing.
The day culminated in a whole school musical performance with the launch of their Stories 4 Schools book, All Creatures Great and Small. The book and performance were inspired by a whole school focus on the concept of creation, with the children thinking about their roles as stewards of the planet – writing stories, poems and creating artwork with an environmental focus. The project had clearly captured the children’s imagination.
The arts can enhance education and the school experience and the pupils showed that very clearly. I congratulate them, their teachers, the Arts Council, Artsmark and Arts Connect for all that has been achieved.