The Creative Arts
“We are all born as creative and inquisitive individuals. In a more complex society, we increasingly depend on the creative individual.”
Darcey Bussell, Ballerina and Strictly Come Dancing Judge
Arts provision throughout Damers First School is deeply embedded within everything that we do. It is a highly valued area of learning that supports the emotional, physical and general well being of every child. At Damers, all creative arts subjects are taught as discrete subjects in their own right as well as being used as a tool to help engage the children in other areas of the curriculum.
In recognition of our Arts provision we hold Artsmark Gold status. This is a national award that recognises our commitment, dedication and ongoing high standard of work produced by the children. Assessment by the Arts Council for this award occurs every two years and we have held the Gold award continuously from 2004. We are due to re-apply for our award again in 2019.
Arts provision throughout the school is taught mostly by class teachers with support and training from professionals across all fields. By working in partnership with creative experts we continue to raise standards in teaching and learning, motivate, set high expectations and inspire our staff and pupils. Working alongside professionals in any field is a very important and valued part of our curriculum.
At Damers we are fortunate to have a large and a small hall suitable for rehearsals and performances. Our music room is well resourced and we invested in a class set of Djembe drums as a result of professional staff training. Using drums is proven to impact on a child’s social, emotional, motor, and cognitive development. As a totally inclusive school we are continually developing methods to enhance and enrich the learning of our children with more complex needs. Drum and percussion experiences can also help in the areas of motor strength and control, speech and communication, social skills, emotional expression, and cognition. Drumming experiences also have a positive effect on social behaviours, self-expression, self-esteem, group cohesion and behavioural issues. It is a very popular part of music lessons.
DASP music service helps to support our teaching. During the summer term 2018 Year 3 children experienced a “samba band” ten week teaching block. This resulted in a performance for parents that was enthusiastic, well prepared and of an exceptionally high standard. DASP music service also provides us with parapetectic teachers in recorders, piano, brass instruments, violins and guitar.
An integral part of our arts provision focuses on the quality and significance of performance. We do this through key stage productions, showcasing projects, concerts, festivals, celebrations and community events.These opportunities are invaluable in developing a host of lifelong skills such as creativity, confidence, perseverance, problem-solving, collaboration and dedication. They are completely inclusive and enhance non-verbal communication. Last Christmas, the first on our new site, allowed us to create an outdoor “Carols in the Courtyard” which involved a lantern parade, singing and hot chocolate for all those who joined us. Here the children worked with a professional artist to create the lanterns. Children also had the opportunity to perform carols at the local ButterMarket and various old peoples homes. KS1 and Foundation children also had the opportunity to take part in their own Christmas productions and begin to experience the discipline, preparation, team work and enjoyment that are a part of putting on a performance.
A prestigious occasion for our KS2 children involves performing at Thomas Hardye School theatre after creating, writing and staging their own production. This annual event involves dance, drama, music and art skills of the highest quality. Parents and the local community consistently comment on the exceptional standard of performance that our children reach. This year we took the story of Beauty and the Beast and made it our own. Each class took a section of the story and interpreted it in a way of their choice. This ensured that there were six Belles, six beasts, six Gastons, and many other characters therefore giving lots of children an opportunity to shine. It is a fully inclusive performance where all the children are motivated and enthusiastic about the show.
At Damers, we take the well being of our children very seriously. In line with many mental health initiatives happening across the country we have been, and are continuing to, ensure that our children have access to outdoor education. This year our arts focus is to produce creative arts outside. This will involve environmental art, geometry, seeing the shapes and beauty of nature around us and how we are all dependent upon each other. It will also involve music and the sound of nature as well as dance and drama created within a given environment. We look forward to sharing our work with you towards the end of the year.
This year, for the second time only, after an amazing first attempt, we will be taking a group of year 4 children to Southampton to take part in a dance competition, Junior Rock Challenge, or JRock.
This is a national competition that is sponsored by the “Be your best foundation” which aspire to give children the opportunity to take part in dance and theatre production to help to encourage healthy lifestyles. Last year proved to be a totally incredible experience. Our team of year 4’s spent months practicing and rehearsing. The staging was built and painted. The stage crew became very proficient at moving the set quickly. Costumes were made and bought and make up practised. The day of the competition arrived and we were ready to perform in front of a packed audience of 1,800 people and a panel of judges. We were the youngest children to take part but came away with eight certificates of excellence, including certificates for soundtrack, choreography, stage crew and theme. The experience that this gives to our year 4 children is beyond anything we can provide within the school and increases their standard of performance. We are the only first school in the area to take part in this competition but passionately believe in the value of the project.
Throughout their time at Damers we strive to give all children the opportunity to take part in performances, share artwork and music, work with artists, visit galleries and see live performances. This includes a visit to the pantomime at Weymouth Pavilion.