Sunderland special school reaches ‘huge achievement’ with art and culture award

Students from Barbara Priestman Academy celebrate getting Artsmark gold.
Students from Barbara Priestman Academy celebrate getting Artsmark gold.
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STUDENTS are proving to be good as gold when it comes to creating artwork.

Barbara Priestman Academy in Sunderland is thrilled to have clinched the Artsmark Gold award for commitment to, and excellence in, arts and cultural education.

Emily Landells, its music co-ordinator and arts leader, said it was a huge achievement.

She said: “Although we are a small special school, we are able to combine the performing arts, visual arts and media arts through theatre, film, radio, set design, costume and lighting and sound, and use digital technology to enhance these art forms.”

The teacher said because the majority of students are autistic, its curriculum focuses on communication and social skills, with the arts an area where students can express themselves in a variety of ways without having to cope with the structures of normal social communication.

Headteacher Carolyn Barker added: “The Artsmark Gold award recognises the quality and range of arts-based learning at Barbara Priestman Academy.

“We have been developing our arts provision to include a range of experiences for our learners who now access a rich and diverse arts curriculum.”

Katherine Pearson, Artsmark assessor, said: “The students I met during my visit were articulate and knowledgeable exponents of the arts.

“They provided great insight into the benefits which participation in the arts brought them both as hooks into learning and as individual subjects in which they could excel.”

She said the children had talked with “great pride and enthusiasm” about the school’s commitment and how their involvement had helped them develop resilience, team work and confidence”.