Billesley Primary School were awarded Platinum in September 2019.
Throughout their journey Billesley worked with a number of partners to create a varied programme of artistic experiences for their school community. They started working with Stan’s Cafe in September 2012, with a group of artists from a variety of disciplines, though primarily theatre practitioners, working under the artistic direction of James Yarker.
In Billesley, Stans Cafe aim to work with all the students in the school once a year; to engage parents as well as the wider school staff. They hope to help create outstanding moments in the school year that help energise and inspire everyone involved. They say that, ‘By collaborating with pupils and staff at Billesley Primary School we hope to challenge ourselves to make extraordinary art that we would never otherwise have made.’
With Stans Cafe, Billesley embarked on several project including ‘What is a School?’; a book that spans an entire school year, with contributions from every year group and staff member; an Ancient China Radio Drama by Year 4 and Moon Landing Poetry by Year 2.
Birmingham REP also does extensive work with Billesley both with staff and students to devise performances and upskill teachers in using drama in the classroom.
Over lockdown Billesley wanted to encourage the children to be as arty as possible while they were at home. So they set up some challenges, including making: sand art, abstract art, drawing to music and 3D Design.
In 2019, the ambassador network that Billesley is part of, the Elliot Foundation West Midlands, employed an animation artist called Sophie Burrows to work with the nine schools in the region around the artform. Due to lockdown, this project didn’t get completed but it is re-planned for next year. However, Sophie made them some instructional videos which have been used in lessons to create animation videos.
When Billesley were awarded Platinum, they were also awarded GOLD School Games Award. To celebrate they had a PE & Art Day where they looked at the art forms that crossed over into physical fitness like dance and explored artists that produced artwork with a sports theme.
To further support the delivery of cross-curricular arts activity, Billesley took part in the RSA’s Performing Pedagogy programme which was a school based research project about the impact that drama could have on children’s progress. Since the programme, Billesley have adapted their teaching structures to capitalise on its success so that drama is at the forefront of their learning.
From Angela Watson, Lead Practitioner and Art Ambassador
‘We were beyond excited when we were awarded our Artsmark Platinum! The experience was challenging yet inspiring as it encouraged us to reflect on the pedagogy and practice at the heart of our arts programme at Billesley and think about what we could do next to give our children the best experience we could in their primary education. The arts are truly at the heart of what we do here at Billesley so to be recognised for our efforts was a very rewarding experience.’