Saffron Walden County High joins the elite after being awarded Gold ArtsMark status

Saffron Walden County High has joined a a very select group of schools after being awarded Gold ArtsMark status.

The school has held the award at this highest level since its inception in 2000, making it one of only a handful of schools nationally who can boast the achievement.

Artsmark is Arts Council England’s flagship programme to enable schools and other organisations “to evaluate, strengthen and celebrate” their arts and cultural provision and is now delivered by Trinity College London.

After visiting the school and talking to both staff and students the assessor commented that it “values the arts deeply providing facilities, staffing, curricular opportunities and extra-curricular activities that allow pupils to engage with the arts in many ways”.

Also acknowledged were the “very high levels of achievement” and that “a number of bursaries are available to ensure that finances are not a barrier to involvement”.

Alan Broadbent, the director of music hailed the success as “a testimony to the skills, enthusiasm and dedication” of all the staff involved in the teaching of arts subjects at the school.

He added that the excellent arts provision and SWCHS benefited from the support of headteacher John Hartley and the governors for the place of the arts within a broad and balanced curriculum, enabling every child to achieve its full potential.

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Mr Broadbent prepared the bid along with Miss Foy from the drama department and throughout the process were particularly keen to emphasise the ever strengthening links between the school and its community. These will be further enhanced in the coming years, not only by the establishment of the Music Academy, but also by the expansion of the Arts Award programme currently run by Miss Foy.

This not only allows students to achieve recognition for their artistic endeavours, but also aims to train older students to be arts leaders or ambassadors and to take their skills and enthusiasm into local junior schools and other appropriate organisations.

The County High has already been approached by the world famous Royal Opera House, Covent Garden who have offered their support to help develop this exciting programme in the Saffron Walden area and talks are continuing at to how best to tailor this to suit local circumstances.