As I wrote last week, leadership is about drawing out threads and joining the dots. As a leader, you need the ability to seek out patterns, draw on past experience and knowledge and simplify the complex.
At school, we are currently working through the complexities of two frameworks that will drive school development in the overarching areas of wellbeing and mental health (WMH). From workload to mindful classrooms, positive physchology to CBT in understanding pupil behaviour, our aim is to improve outcomes for pupils and staff through a focus on our collective WMH.
The reason for putting these two frameworks together is to explore how the opportunities presented in one have measurable outcomes in the other. The first framework is the Hertfordshire Schools Wellbeing Quality Mark (WQM), an opportunity to engage the whole community in collectively addressing WMH. The second is Artsmark, again designed to drive community-wide engagement this time in developing arts-based activity and cultural engagement across the school.
Artsmark is the ideal vehicle to plan for high interest, engaging activity, but it also serves to generate debate and discussion about the Arts and its place in the lives of our children and their families. It involves the children in the development of experiences that engage them in a wide variety of art-forms so that “the arts” are not “done to” the children, but they can gain experience, explore interests and pursue burgeoning talents. And, as the new OfSTED inspection framework places “cultural capital” squarely in the frame, we are able to explore how the arts impact on the wellbeing, aspirations and intellectual development of our children.
For us at Jupiter, and indeed the fellow Heads working in our NQPEL peer group, some of our most vulnerable children are those that, because of family socio-economic factors, are less likely to engage in culturally enriching, arts-focused experiences. As a result, the children’s aspiration, creativity and fundamental sense of self and others in shared human experience is greatly diminished. Therefore the arts leads to greater opportunity to experience and explore this sense of self and one’s place in the world. In turn this leads to improved wellbeing as well as intellectual and spiritual growth.
The WQM framework for Emotional and Mental Health and Wellbeing asks schools to address the following:
The teaching of the arts is used to support the mental and social needs of CYP. They have opportunities to explore a range of arts (1-1 tuition, visits, performances etc.) to enable them to explore talents and interestsHfl wellbeing quality mark
The question emerging therefore is: To what extent does engagement in the arts, enhancing wellbeing, lead to improved outcomes for our most vulnerable children? We intend, as we engage in the journey towards Artsmark, that we will fulfil many of the requirements of the Wellbeing quality mark. As a result our vulnerable children will be more fulfilled and happy at school, with improved progress and attainment in English and Maths.
More will be written on this, but most certainly we will remain very mindful of just what the arts will mean to our children and this will play an important part…