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In Harmony school scoops top award

New Bewerley Community Primary School has become one of only a handful of schools in the country to receive a Platinum Artsmark Award.

The award recognises the school’s success in embedding the arts at the core of the curriculum, leading to a marked uplift in the pupils’ confidence, aspirations and educational attainment.

“Your aim to promote social mobility by up-skilling children through an aspirational, arts and culture-rich curriculum is impressive.”

– Platinum Artsmark Award Feedback

Artsmark praised the school’s innovative ‘Include, Create and Perform’ ethos, alongside the care which has been taken to foster and facilitate the children’s engagement with the arts.

In Harmony at New Bewerley Community Primary School © Tom Arber

Platinum is the highest level in the Arts Council England accredited scheme which celebrates educational settings where learning is brought to life through arts and culture.

The decision to start working towards the Artsmark Award was taken after New Bewerley Community Primary School saw the impact that joining the In Harmony Opera North programme in 2016 had on all aspects of school life. By providing regular musical learning for every pupil, including the opportunity to learn to play an orchestral instrument and to sing in a choir, self-esteem increased, concentration levels improved markedly, and academic attainment rose.

In Harmony Opera North at New Bewerley Primary School. Photo: Tom Arber

The school sits in one of the most economically-deprived areas in the country, so the value of the arts in increasing social mobility was an additional driver in seeking Artsmark status. As a result of their decision to put the arts centre stage, valuable performance opportunities have been provided for the pupils by Opera North and other arts organisations in Leeds, including Northern Ballet and Wrongsemble Theatre. This has helped build confidence among the children and engage the parents and wider community.

“Getting Platinum Artsmark means we’re an exciting school. The teachers change things that might not be fun and make them more exciting and this lets us become talented artists and musicians. My favourite things about New Bewerley are my friends, teachers and the activities we’re able to do.”

– Year 5 Pupil

In Harmony at New Bewerley Community Primary School © Tom Arber

Aspirations have also been raised with gifted and talented young players having been selected for Yorkshire Young Musicians, and dance bursaries being offered by Northern Ballet as the first steps to pursuing a career on the stage – something the children would never previously have considered as an option.

“The difference this commitment to an arts-based curriculum has made to everyone in the school is incredible. We are so proud of everything that the children and teaching team have achieved and to have been given this accolade in recognition of their hard work is quite simply the icing on the cake!”

– Gary German, Headteacher of New Bewerley Primary School

In Harmony Opera North at New Bewerley Community Primary School. © Tom Arber

Over 1,800 children each week are currently engaged in In Harmony Opera North across Leeds. The long-term residency sees Opera North’s Education team delivering structured music sessions within curriculum time every week for all pupils in the school. During the recent lockdowns, the transition was made to online learning to ensure continuity for all those involved until a return to the classroom was permitted under government guidelines.

Opera North gratefully acknowledges Arts Council England and the Department of Education’s support for In Harmony Opera North, alongside the project’s Ambassadors: The Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation, The Charles and Elsie Sykes Trust and Pinsent Masons. We are also grateful for the support given to the company’s Education Programme by The Whitaker Charitable Trust.

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