Bourne Westfield – My #Artsmark20 Story

Becky Beavis, of Artsmark Platinum school Bourne Westfield Primary Academy, gives us a look into the school’s journey to Platinum.

Bourne Westfield is a large primary academy in Bourne a small market town in rural Lincolnshire. We have 679 pupils including nursery. I am the Arts Director and have overall responsibility for developing creative provision and supporting our school through the Artsmark programme. I am also an Artsmark Ambassador for The Mighty Creatives and have supported a number of schools through training and events over the last few years.

We began our Artsmark journey in 2015 when we were looking for a structure to support our vision of developing creativity. Our music provision was already outstanding and we had seen the benefits for our whole school community in engagement, wellbeing, and school identity. But we wanted to develop this impact to include all of the Creative Arts.

We were very proud to achieve a Platinum Artsmark Award in 2017 but re-registered again in 2018 to continue our development.

What were the challenges? 

  • Unlike music where the planning, teaching and monitoring was done by one specialist music teacher, the rest of the Creative Arts provision is delivered by individual class teachers with varying degrees of skill, confidence and experience. 
  • Existing time pressures of a very full curriculum. 
  • Lincolnshire is a large, diverse, rural county with low cultural engagement.

How did Artsmark help?

The Artsmark process enabled us to break down our thinking in order to develop a road map. Of course we looked at our policies and, after building an Arts Team, we developed planning and supported teachers to be more creative in the way they used the Arts to build and broaden knowledge, but there were two main foci for our work: 

Training: We built a schools creative network with all of our local schools. The secondary schools have been brilliant at supporting our training needs. They have facilitated training in Art and Design and Drama, and continue to work with us to support one-off initiatives such as a Bourne Schools Music Concert, the Shakespeare for Schools Festival, and our annual Arts Week. This relationship is brilliant for pooling expertise and resources and great for transition and sharing workloads. 

Partnerships: Key to our rural locality has been our partnerships which continue to grow. We have worked on some brilliant national programmes such as The Royal Opera House’s Create and Dance programme, but we have also discovered treasures on our doorstep such as The Hub in Sleaford, our local Music Education Hub, Stamford Arts Centre, local arts festivals, and local freelancer artists –  all of whom have provided opportunities for us to increase engagement and our range of experience.  

The Artsmark process has also provided opportunities to forge partnerships with other schools on the same journey, including two inner city schools in Leicester which have provided us with authentic opportunities to learn about other cultures. Our work has also attracted the attention of STEM ambassadors and in 2018 two teachers from a school in Southern India visited for three weeks to share their arts and culture with us. This project will continue to develop – sharing ideas is inspirational and motivating! 

What’s next?  

Artsmark has started us on a journey of discovery; that’s what is so great about it. We continue to develop our partnerships and find new ways to engage children, teachers, parents, and the community. We are now looking at developing the programme throughout our whole Multi Academy Trust and have six of our schools engaged in Artsmark though The Mighty Creative’s Group School Offer. We are really excited to broaden our network and use our experience to support others, as well as exploring all of the opportunities that this work will bring for everyone. We may be rural but that doesn’t restrict our ability to engage in culture and creativity, which are as prevalent in your local community as they are in our cities. Children should be proud of where they live and also have an understanding of how their locality and its culture fits with the wider creative network of the country and beyond. 

What advice would you give to another school starting out on their Artsmark journey?

Embrace and trust the process, it really is a supportive framework. Be happy and proud of the baby steps as they will lead to greater things, but it’s not a solo journey – build a team, get SLT support and build a network with other schools and your community.