"Arts have the power to transform lives", says Peter Hewitt, Chief Executive of Arts Council England.


Five of the borough's schools have made their mark in the arts by being among 775 in the country to receive a national Arts Council of England award.

They are in the third round of schools to receive an Artsmark award in recognition of their commitment to music, drama, dance and the visual arts, both during and after school.

One school, Brackenbury Primary, received the top Artsmark Gold award; two others, Melcombe and St John's Walham Green primaries, gained Artsmark Silver while Phoenix High School and Woodlane High School both gained Artsmark awards.

Artsmark is a new national scheme developed by the Arts Council of England to encourage schools to increase the range of arts education provision and to raise the profile of arts education. Awards are given annually at three levels - Artsmark, Artsmark Silver and Artsmark Gold.

Andrew McMahon, headteacher of Brackenbury Primary School, said: "At Brackenbury we believe that the arts are a vital part of our school's curriculum. We aim to develop our children's ability to express themselves and provide opportunities that will enhance all aspects of their lives. Many of these experiences will be the beginnings of lifelong pursuits."

Mr McMahon said the Artsmark Gold was awarded in recognition of the huge amount of opportunities provided for pupils including: after-school drama, art, music and performing arts clubs for younger and older pupils; visits to galleries and museums and participation in borough-wide arts events, including the recent Dance Challenge project and the annual Visual Arts Season.

Excellent arts provision is a strong feature of the school's curriculum.
Pupils have recently been involved in creating a ceramic tile mural, now on display at the Kingwood City Learning Centre, and a collection of hats, which has gone on show at Hammersmith & Fulham's education department.

Staff and pupils at Melcombe and St John's Walham Green primary schools have had their enthusiasm for the arts rewarded with silver Artsmark awards.

Janet Moffat, headteacher of Melcombe Primary School, said: "We have very strong links with the Lyric theatre and always take part in the annual Performing Arts Week there. We are also committed to bringing a wide variety of artists into school to work with the children, as well as having strong links with HarperCollins, which enables pupils to work alongside people from the publishing world."

Pauline Morozgalska, headteacher of St John's Walham Green Primary School, said: "Our key project was the big tapestry that we made for the millennium, which every child helped to design and produce. This is still on display in the school. In 2001 the children made clothes for a big school fashion show and last year's arts projects culminated in a very successful music and arts week."

Both Phoenix High School and Woodlane High School received Artsmark awards.

Nick Holt, headteacher at Woodlane High School, said: "We have used the arts to expand the children's horizons beyond a small, special school environment, either by bringing artists into the school or by getting involved in outside exhibitions and events, including the borough's recent Art by Young People exhibition."

William Atkinson, headteacher of Phoenix High School, said: "I am delighted that the Arts Council has recognised Phoenix High School's arts education programme, which gives pupils many opportunities to develop their skills and benefit from a quality experience of the arts. It is another fantastic step forward for the school, and we will continue to build on this success".

Phoenix High School works in partnership with a number of artists. For example, students from all years work regularly with Niles Hailestones, an African drumming teacher, and they will be participating in the Borough's Schools Music Festival on 24th June. Other students work regularly with DJ Emerson Yearwood and street dance tutor, Chudi Obiora.

Peter Hewitt, Chief Executive of Arts Council England, said:
"Now in its third year, Artsmark continues to go from strength to strength. Our belief is that the arts have the power to transform lives, and that dynamic arts experiences offered by schools have a lasting impact on young people. This year, we are delighted to make the award to a further 775 schools. Artsmark celebrates the importance of arts in education, encourages schools to review and develop arts provision and recognises teachers for their commitment to the arts."

Cllr David Williams, deputy for education, said: "I am delighted that the Arts Council of England has recognised the progressive and well-balanced arts education taking place in our schools. Participation in arts subjects and events helps pupils to develop their confidence, which has an important impact on their all-round achievement.
All these awards are a great achievement but the gold award is only given after very rigorous assessment so Brackenbury is blazing the trail for other schools."

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