Martin Smith, Joint Vice Chair of Governors, 26.5.22

In my role as school governor and the lead for the Cultural Rucksack programme in the City I visited the Mellers Primary school, earlier this year, to discuss how the School might become more involved with the Cultural Rucksack programme in Nottingham. This programme has been established to improve the relationship between City schools and the Arts provision available across the City in an effort to increase pupil participation in the Arts.
The school has a strong tradition of engaging in the Arts and it is probably the music provision that highlights this most strongly. Supported by the Nottingham Music Hub ‘In Harmony’ programme every Key Stage 2 pupil learns to play an instrument. Through class ensembles pupils are supported to pass accredited exams and have to opportunity to play in the Robin Hood Youth orchestra. Alongside learning to play musical instruments pupils are also taught to sing and while I was visiting, I saw Catrin leading one of her excellent lessons with a group of pupils. Such opportunities can be life changing experiences for young people and the commitment shown by the school is exemplary in terms of providing such an offer.
In terms of the visual arts, Nottingham Nursery has a long-standing relationship with Nottingham Contemporary through the Schools of Tomorrow programme that aims to embed an artist in residence over a period of time with a school. In terms of their recent work with The Contemporary, the Nursery school worked with Assemble a design collective to explore themes around play culminating with an exhibition at the Contemporary itself. I was lucky enough to visit the opening of this work and see some of our youngest children explaining their work and what they had done. A very proud moment for them all, including their parents who were with them. Thank you to Amanda the executive headteacher for supporting such excellent work.
As for the primary school Lila, our Arts lead, gave an excellent outline of how the school embraces the arts as part of a recent Cultural Rucksack teacher’s meetings. She outlined how the school is now undertaking Artsmark and that she links to the Nottingham Schools Trust Art network. She mentioned that staff are encouraged to build a strong, varied and diverse curriculum that incorporates the arts and that they make further links out into the community through contacts with the Primary Gallery and Theatre Groups.
All of this work has now been underpinned by the school signing up to the Cultural Rucksack Pledge, outlined below:

  • We are working towards embedding arts, creativity and cultural education within and across our curriculum.
  • We actively promote a broad range of creative experiences for all our pupils. This is part of our school ethos and is reflected in our vision and values statements.
  • Our curriculum reflects the rich diversity and cultural heritage of Nottingham.
  • We use our arts and cultural programme to strengthen connections to our local community.
  • We value the opportunity to work with a range of external arts and cultural providers and professionals across the City and will develop an in-depth engagement with at least one provider over a period of time.
  • We will engage with the arts and cultural support hubs across the City.
  • We have identified a staff member/team to take the lead on our arts and cultural curriculum and to be an ambassador(s) for culture and the arts throughout the school.
  • Staff have access to professional development opportunities to support arts and cultural teaching and provision.
  • We provide the opportunity for our pupils to reflect on their arts, culture and creativity experiences to influence future planning.
  • We actively share our commitment to arts and cultural education to our pupils and wider school community

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