On Wednesday 23 May Arts Council England announced this year's successful Artsmark education providers. For the first time, these include 16 further education colleges, 14 of which are Founder Colleges of the National Skills Academy for Creative & Cultural. The Artsmark is a national award that accredits quality arts education. It is Arts Council England's flagship programme to enable schools, further education colleges and youth justice settings to audit, celebrate and develop high quality arts education. It is a key driver in their aim to ensure every child and young person has the opportunity to experience the richness of the arts.
For over ten years Artsmark, Arts Council England’s national award scheme for schools has set a standard for arts activity in schools. The award recognises quality practice across all school activity, including art and design, design, drama, music and creative writing, and enables teachers to audit their arts provision to ensure more young people experience the richness of the arts. Over the last 10 years, Arts Council England has celebrated the work of schools and teachers both through the award itself and by organising celebratory events all over the country for schools achieving the highest level award of Artsmark Gold. The scheme has focused on measuring schools by setting out rigorous national criteria, supporting networks of organisations committed to providing a sustainable arts programme and promoting good practice.
Arts Council England has encouraged its funded organisations to work with schools for over thirty years but there has been less engagement with the college sector so it was good to see, as part of its re-launch in 2011, that the scheme was extended to include Further Education colleges and Youth Justice settings. Both can provide opportunities for those young people who have fared less well in more academic settings to identify and develop their talent.
From September 2011 Further Education Colleges were invited to apply for a new customised version of Artsmark for Further Education. To achieve Artsmark, colleges need to evidence quality provision, to show that they have a clear vision of the future of the arts in their college, and to demonstrate how they encourage links with industry professionals.
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So it is heartening that of the first 18 college applications, fourteen were from our
Artsmark acts as a tool for training providers to reflect on and evaluate the place that the arts play in the life of the college. With the Training Quality Standard disappearing last year, and Ofsted Inspections looking at the college as a whole we believe that there is more and more need for our industry sector to play a role in determining the quality of sector-specific delivery. The new Ofsted Inspection framework for 2012 has now been confirmed and Artsmark can play a part in promoting wider values including the development of interpersonal skills.
Pauline Tambling is Joint-CEO of Creative & Cultural Skills, the sector skills council