Darcey Bussell CBE visited Ellesmere College to recognise the school’s commitment to the arts. Darcey a judge on Strictly Come Dancing and president of the Royal Academy of Dance officially presented Ellesmere with the Arts Council’s new Artsmark Platinum Award, illustrating the school’s commitment to providing a strong cultural education. “I think when you see kids making such an effort and are so encouraged by the arts and drama, it shows they’re on the right path”, she said. “It’s making sure they enjoy all of it and its nice for me to inspire them. It’s incredibly important for a place like this to have a spark of life in the arts. I’m lucky that we have friends who come from here, so we hear lots of positive things going on at the school”.
The school is the first school in Shropshire to be awarded the new initiative following a successful bid last year where the school received the highest accolade possible, the ArtsMark Gold Award. Only nineteen primary and secondary schools in the midlands took part in a nationwide pilot supported by Arts Connect West Midlands and The Mighty Creative’s, two of the ten regional organisations across the country helping connect schools, children and young people with the arts. Deputy Head Vicky Pritt-Roberts who helped co-ordinate the school’s bid for the award said: “‘I’m delighted that Ellesmere College’s dynamic arts education has been nationally recognised. Holding Artsmark status means we are leading the way in providing children and young people with excellent arts and cultural experiences.”
Artsmark is Arts Council England’s flagship programme, which enables schools and other organisations to evaluate, strengthen, and celebrate their arts and cultural provision. The core of the Platinum Level Award demonstrates Ellesmere’s commitment to supporting and inspiring other schools and creative groups in the wider community. It also recognises the schools arts provision, which seeks to meet new challenges and push boundaries.
Ellesmere was praised for the high quality of education in all the key art subjects, including art, creative writing, dance, drama, music, technical theatre and media technology. The assessment also highlighted the schools nurturing environment for artistic talent which encourages progression towards professional success in the arts. Leadership possibilities for pupils and the impact on pupil’s well-being were also highlighted. Headmaster, Brendan Wignall, explained: “It’s really important that all of the hard work from staff and pupils is recognised. A school that just focuses on the academic side is only half a school. We have felt for some time now that Ellesmere’s provision across all the Arts – dance, drama, music, creative writing, and visual art – has been of the very highest quality, and to have this affirmed by Arts Council England is a very proud moment for the College.”